The magnificent battle for the South East Counties Division One West title has gone right to the final day, with Worthing Minors needing just a draw to clinch the championship.
Minors, who had led the league all season, were finally overtaken last weekend when they were without a game and rivals Seahaven Harriers were awarded a walkover after a no-show by Adur Athletic.
The three points collected by Seahaven take them top for the first time this season, a point ahead of their great rivals. But with their fixtures now complete, they can do nothing but wait and hope that Worthing make a horrendous hash of things in their game at Bexhill United Reserves.
Yet although Seahaven were handed their final three points – their 15th “win” in their 18 matches – on a plate, it might just have scuppered their outside hopes of winning the title.
Their goal difference is inferior to Worthing’s, meaning a draw would be enough for the Minors to take the crown.
Andy Ring’s side might have fancied playing the game against an Adur side with nothing to play for, in the hope of making up that goal difference.
When they lost to Worthing three weeks ago, Seahaven’s goal deficit was 15 with just two games to play. They more than halved that in just one game, hitting eight for the third time this season (they’ve also scored nine), against Bexhill.
Another seven against Adur – whom they beat 5-0 away – might have made things interesting.
But in reality, if Worthing fail to beat Bexhill on Sunday, it will go down as one of the division’s shocks of the season.
Minors and Harriers have both registered for promotion after initially showing reluctance because of the added commitment required at Premier Division level and a potential shortage of players next season.
And both could progress, depending on the complexities of the promotion and relegation system in the South East Counties and London regional leagues.
Abbey Rangers, who finished third in their debut season in the league, have also applied to go up.
Goal-crazy Chrimes hits 15 in two matches
One team who won’t be playing at a higher level next season are Wivelsfield Green, who, Sent Her Forward understands, did not apply.
Given the start to their season, when they lost three of their first four fixtures with a net goal deficit of minus-22, it’s not surprising.
But Wivi’s recovery during the second half of the season has been one of the most amazing features of an excellent year of women’s grassroots football in the region.
Since losing 9-2 to Brighton in the Sussex County Cup in October, they have won 10 and lost only three of their 14 league games, culminating in two double-figure victories in successive games against bottom club Dorking.
After beating the Surrey club at home 13-0 a fortnight ago, they won 11-1 away, making them the joint-second-highest scorers in the division.
Emma Chrimes, whose remarkable seven-goal tally in the first game was slightly overshadowed by goalkeeper Helen Bashford’s first ever for the club, went one better in last week’s rematch, hitting eight – the highest two individual hauls in the league.
Her 15 goals in Wivelsfield’s final two matches took her tally in an injury-hit season to 29 in just 14 games, and had she not missed a big chunk of the season, after suffering a serious ankle injury in the 8-2 opening-day defeat to Seahaven, she would surely have been challenging Rachel Johnson, Danni Lane and Lauren Smith for the division’s top scorer prize.
Divison’s top scorers
|Rachel Johnson (Abbey Rangers||36||22 (+2 as sub)|
|Danni Lane (Worthing Minors)||33||18 (+1 as sub)|
|Lauren Smith (Seahaven Harriers)||32||22|
|Emma Chrimes Wivelsfield Green)||29||14|
Eastbourne Town facing the drop
While there has been a tremendous battle to earn the right to move up to the London & South East Regional League, there’s been an equally tough one going on in the division they’re trying to join to avoid relegation.
Hassocks are already down – subject to the decision of the South East Joint League Committee – and FA Cup giant-killers Eastbourne Town look set to join them after failing to climb out of the bottom two.
Their 1-1 draw with Crawley Wasps on Wednesday means Emma Parslow’s side will finish second-to-bottom, regardless of how they get on in their final match on Sunday at home to AFC Wimbledon, meaning an anxious wait while the JLC does its stuff.
Town’s plight also provided a reprieve to Aylesford and Bexhill United, two clubs promoted from the South East Counties League last season and who have fought a tough battle to survive at the highest level.
They will finish ninth and 10th respectively in the 12-team league after Aylesford beat KIKK United 4-3 last weekend – their fifth victory of the season.
The Kent side had beaten Kate Wilde’s Bexhill the previous week to ensure the higher placing.
Five teams still have mathematical chances of winning the London league, but leaders Old Actonians and second-placed Carshalton Athletic look best placed.
Actonians‘ surprise defeat to London Corinthians last weekend gave Carshalton fresh hope of overtaking them after the west London side had beaten them the previous week.
Carshalton‘s 3-0 victory over Crawley Wasps meant they remain ahead of Fulham Foundation by a goal difference of one, and with a game in hand.
They have two in hand of the leaders, with four points to make up. But conceivably, AFC Wimbledon – three points further back from the same number of games as Carshalton – and sixth-placed Corinthians, who still have five games to play, could still take the title.
Corinthians still have to play three of the top four – including AFC Wimbledon, who have announced they will be playing on Sutton United’s new all-weather pitch next season, twice.
But neither they nor Old Actonians will be making inroads into their remaining fixtures this Sunday – the two meet in the League Cup final in Carshalton.
London & South East Regional League title battle