Worthing United 1 (E Chrimes 37)
Saltdean United 5 (Sands 28, 42, 71; Evans 39; Young 90+2)
Less than five months ago Charlotte Young was helping Brighton to their best result in the spring series of the Women’s Super League. Today she was parading her skills among the young (and not so young) hopefuls of the Sussex County League, light years away from where she has become used to playing her football.
Young, a sometimes combative midfielder and sometimes cultured centre-back (and today, both), made her shock debut for Saltdean United – a brand new team whom she hopes to help progress towards the standards her former team have achieved.
In return, mentoring the talent at her adopted club will help her towards a higher coaching level as she increases her off-the-pitch options.
Everyone’s a winner – except Saltdean’s unfortunate opponents. And today it was Worthing United, another newly formed club who are helping raise the standard of the Sussex County Women and Girls League, who suffered.
She was the difference between the teams in today’s Sussex FA Trophy clash, according to Worthing’s manager, Jason Downer.
That might have been a bit harsh on some of Saltdean’s other outstanding performers – hat-trick hero Casey Sands in particular – but you could see what he meant.
Young’s inclusion, a few months after being released by Brighton on the eve of their WSL 2 campaign, was the talk of the touchline before the game kicked off. You could be forgiven for thinking Worthing were half-beaten before they started.
Yet Downer’s side played their full part in an impressive, entertaining match in which their performance in the first half-hour of each period was rather more convincing than the scoreline ultimately suggests.
But they were soundly beaten by a rampant Saltdean, whose busy, bustling strikers, Sands and Chloe Evans, thrived on the service from midfield, where Young inevitably imposed herself, and whose defence was magnificent against a forward line who themselves are no slouches.
Saltdean, who are second in the county league, ahead of their opponents on goal difference, will play leaders Newhaven – who crushed them 7-3 in the league last weekend – in the quarter-finals.
That all three teams grace the entry-level league for Sussex’s women footballers speaks volumes for the strength of that division this season – but can’t be much fun for the other seven sides.
Worthing swept forward from the kick-off and won a free-kick on the edge of the area inside the first minute. But Steph Carter’s quickly taken effort struck the Saltdean wall and was cleared.
Within 60 seconds the visitors had one of their own – though twice as far out – and Young floated her seemingly effortless shot just wide.
On four minutes, Saltdean keeper Katie Burr had to be alert to cut out Emma Chrimes’ low cross after she had powered clear down the right.
Goals have not been a problem for either side in the early days of their maiden campaigns, but in Sands and Evans Saltdean boast a lethal combination at this level, and the pair sent an early warning to their opponents on seven minutes when the latter found her strike partner with a perceptive pass, but Nicole Webley – who was to play a big role in the game – thwarted the attack with a terrific block.
Worthing United won the first corner in the eighth minute, and Chrimes’s height caused brief panic in the Saltdean defence before the ball was cleared.
A minute later Sands had a sight of goal after Chrimes had failed to cut out Amy Perkins’ long clearance, but the nine-goal striker failed to find the target.
Worthing goalkeeper Stacey Johnson was called into meaningful action for the first time on 13 minutes when she got down low to keep out a fierce effort from Emily Towner.
The home side won their second corner after 15 minutes – and almost immediately their third, as Perkins again came to Saltdean’s rescue, blocking Chrimes’s header.
Steph Carter’s flag kick was headed back to her by Madeleine Tester and her cross again found Chrimes, but the striker could not keep her effort on target.
The game was open and eventful, with chances at both ends.
The visitors were piecing together the more fluent movements, though, and on 17 minutes Evans and Young combined well before the latter pierced the Worthing defence with a fine pass, but Chloe Ansell averted the danger with a good block.
Sands’ pace and strength were posing problems for the Worthing defenders, but Kim Chrimes matched her stride for stride to thwart the striker’s progress down the left.
At the other end, Freya Bowie did well to shepherd the ball back to Burr after Kayleigh Thaxter, with all the time in the world, tried to send Ansell through.
Sands again threatened on 23 minutes when she cut in from the right and sent over a dangerous cross-shot which Kim Chrimes appeared to do well to get a touch to, but referee Paul Preston awarded a goal-kick.
Young had another opportunity from a free-kick on 25 minutes, a couple of yards outside the Worthing United box. But she screwed her effort horribly wide.
At the other end, Johnson came well out of her goal to block Sands, but it only delayed the inevitable.
Evans, who was enjoying a fine afternoon, found Sands with an intelligent pass, delivered to perfection, and the striker controlled the ball in an instant before striking a superb shot beyond Johnson to give Saltdean the lead with 28 minutes gone.
Evans was at the centre of another threatening Saltdean move a couple of minutes later, collecting from Young and finding Dayna Kingshott. But again Kim Chrimes came to the rescue.
The pendulum was swinging the way of the visitors, and on 31 minutes Young – of all people – was allowed the freedom of Worthing as she strolled through some half-hearted challenges before finding Kingshott, whose shot was held at the second attempt by Johnson.
Yet on 37 minutes Worthing were level. Bowie put Burr under pressure with her back-pass and the goalkeeper’s clearance found only substitute Abz Beadle, whose low cross was bundled home by Emma Chrimes.
Parity lasted barely 60 seconds, though, as Sands tore through the Worthing defence and fired in another effort, which Johnson parried, but the alert Evans followed up to restore Saltdean’s lead.
And there was worse to come for Worthing as Sands bagged her second – and Saltdean’s third – just four minutes later – and it was another goal that would have graced the highest levels of the game.
Young, deep in her own half, arrowed the pass of the match through Worthing’s midfield into the path of the grateful Sands, who accelerated beyond her marker and struck a superb left-foot finish over Johnson.
Bowie again came to Saltdean’s rescue when she halted Thaxter’s progress after Emma Chrimes had headed on a throw, and even won a throw-in of her own into the bargain.
On the stroke of half-time Evans tried her luck with a snap-shot after a series of defensive mistakes, but it was easy for Johnson.
Then Towner was allowed to waltz through a flagging Worthing midfield before firing high over from 30 yards.
And as the referee prepared to call a halt to the first half, Webley again denied Saltdean when she halted Evans’ progress following another astute ball from Towner.
Half-time: Worthing United 1-3 Saltdean United
The match had been very much in the balance until – ironically – the home side equalised, triggering a mad five minutes that took the tie away from them.
They had to raise their game – and more importantly, their energy levels – again after the break, and sure enough, they started strongly, Lucy Jellett shooting straight at Burr from eight yards within seconds of the restart.
Evans responded, blasting a strike well over the top, before Carter hit a great effort from 30 yards which landed on the roof of the Saltdean goal.
Still less than five minutes into the second half, Young blasted well over from 25 yards after she had dispossessed Thaxter.
But Worthing were enjoying more possession – and considerably farther upfield. Yet their efforts were foundering on the slightly revamped Saltdean back four in which Perkins was becoming an increasingly crucial element, getting her head to a series of ambitious high passes.
Jellett was looking a useful outlet for Worthing down the left, but the ball rarely came her way, her team-mates preferring a more direct approach towards Emma Chrimes, in the middle.
When she did get clear, after robbing Saltdean substitute Jennifer Casey, she cut inside and curled a good shot from the edge of the area, unfortunately for her too close to Burr.
Chrimes was sent clear by Beadle on 56 minutes, but the striker, under pressure, was unable to hit the target.
Two minutes later, Katie Burling made a crucial interception to halt Kingshott’s progress down the right.
Moments later Kim Chrimes had to be substituted after being winded by a full-blooded strike from Sands that struck her in the back, forcing a defensive reshuffle by Worthing.
On the hour they won a free-kick on the edge of the Saltdean penalty area. Carter’s cross was headed behind by Young for a corner.
The home side were managing to maintain the pressure well inside the Saltdean half, while the visitors, boasting the pace and power of Sands, Evans and Kingshott, were content to rely on breakaways – from which they continued to threaten.
In the 62nd minute Emma Chrimes so nearly crowned a terrific Worthing United move with a goal when her left-foot shot went inches wide following a passing move out of defence, initiated by another superb Webley challenge.
On 65 minutes, three former Worthing Ladies players combined, Carter finding Burling, whose wonderful ball into the path of Chrimes presented the striker with another opportunity. But her left-foot effort was kept out by Burr’s excellent diving save.
Four minutes later it took a fine stop by another substitute, Amy Davey, to prevent Saltdean’s Kingshott getting away again.
And in the latest in a series of substitutions from both sides, Young moved into the Saltdean back four after Ellie French replaced the attacking Evans.
Left-back Burling, who was playing an increasingly influential role in Worthing’s attacking moves, again found Chrimes with a perceptive pass on 70 minutes, and when she received the ball back she delivered an even better ball to Jordan Lucas, but the danger was eventually cleared.
A minute later Saltdean had four – and Sands her hat-trick – inevitably from one of their lightning-quick breaks, the clinical striker racing clear and scoring with another superb finish.
Worthing, who had thrown everything at Saltdean since the break, were flagging, and their opponents were cutting them open on the counter-attack with neat, quick-fire passing.
From one such move, on 78 minutes, Casey turned defence into attack with a pass to Kingshott, who moved inside and fed French, whose weak shot rolled wide.
Worthing could have had a consolation on 81 minutes when substitute Jessica Mead’s clever long throw found Emma Chrimes, whose cross-shot bounced awkwardly in front of Burr, and she had to tip the ball over her own bar.
Johnson saved Casey’s shot at the other end before Charlotte Royston came to Worthing’s rescue, intercepting Sands’ cross after Towner had sent the rampant striker away down the right.
The visitors looked certain to score a fifth on 86 minutes when Kingshott was allowed to waltz through the tiring Worthing defence, but Johnson stood up to her and saved the attacking midfielder’s effort above her head.
Sands was finally given a rest three minutes from the scheduled end, but her side continued to enjoy the better of the closing stages.
On 90 minutes Towner and Anika Wilson combined to feed Emily Hale, but her shot on the turn sailed just wide.
The fifth goal was coming, though, and it arrived in the second minute of stoppage time. Saltdean won a free-kick near the left touchline and Young crowned a fine debut with a superbly flighted direct effort that flew into the top corner.
This was a cup tie, which will have no direct bearing on the two sides’ Sussex league title hopes. But it does represent a psychological blow for Saltdean, who had already drawn at Worthing United in the league.
Once again, the magnificent Casey Sands was a chief tormentor, but this time the home side also had to contend with another top addition in midfield – an area where Worthing are generally strong.
Charlotte Young would have enjoyed her debut against a decent, willing but perhaps too respectful Worthing United, who struggled to shackle the playmaker. She will have enjoyed her goal all the more.
But while the Brighton club march on to a Sussex Trophy quarter-final tie against arguably even stronger opponents in Newhaven, Worthing United do not need any lengthy inquest into why they were second-best today.
They still have a strong, talented squad who will undoubtedly be thereabouts come the end of the season.
Jason Downer (Worthing United): “We’re still gelling”
“We would have liked to have a couple of other [players] here, but ultimately, a player that shouldn’t be at this level was the difference.
“Every goal came from her. Unfortunate for us, but if you’re lucky enough to get a player like that, then good luck.
“We’re still gelling. We’re still trying to work out what we’ve got. The team is changing every week at the moment, with injuries, but we’re getting there. It’s a long-term project. We’ll gel and we’ll get better.
“We’re yet to name the same 11 to start with, so it’s hard. Players have got to learn with each other, because it’s a whole new team. But we’ll get there.
“We played some nice stuff today, as well, at times. Our problem at the moment is we’re not killing teams off. We’re getting in front or levelling it, but we’re just not pushing on a little bit more to get clear of teams. But it’s something we learn from and get better at.”
Joe McTiffen (Saltdean United): “They struggled with our pace”
“I think the first half was very even. I thought Worthing moved the ball around quite well and we didn’t really get our shape… We got a bit nervous. From last week’s result (7-3 defeat at Newhaven) there was a bit of nerves in the camp.
“But actually, second half, we came out and I think we started to play some nice football. We started to get the ball down and to move the ball a lot quicker. And I think they struggled with the pace of our play.
“[In] the last 15 or 20 minutes, fitness definitely told. I’ve half the squad with me at BHASVIC (the Brighton college where he teaches and runs the girls’ football team) and the rest of them play for Sussex (schools representative side, which McTiffen coaches), so it’s quite good for me because they know how I want them to play.
“In training we work a lot on moving the ball quick and getting the ball down, especially from Katie [Burr, the goalkeeper], all the way through. And I think it’s slowly getting into them. It’s only six or seven games in now, but I think slowly we’re starting to appreciate that.
“We were poor against Newhaven, but it wasn’t just that we were poor. [Newhaven] were very good. They’re a cracking side, and I think the only way to deal with us moving the ball quickly is to press high, and that’s exactly what they did.
“We need to learn from that, but fair play to Newhaven. I think to be honest, they’ll be the side to beat this year.
“But today was 100 times better. We moved the ball a lot quicker. We were fighting for the ball, whereas last week it seemed we weren’t fighting enough.
“But of course, having [Charlotte Young], with experience, in there, talking to the girls, I think that makes a massive difference for the girls to look up to, as well. I think she’s been out since she got released from Brighton, and she’s had a bit of a break.”
The Young ones
Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know, and a chance quip, more in hope than expectation, led to the extraordinary appearance of a Premier League championship-winning footballer, who featured in seven of Brighton’s nine Super League spring-series games just a few months back, in grassroots football.
Former England Under-23 international Charlotte Young, who has played for Fulham and Reading as well as Brighton and Lewes, in her career, was released by Brighton in June as they invested heavily in talent they believe can help them to the next level – the Super League’s top tier.
Young, a teacher at Brighton’s Dorothy Stringer School and manager of Sussex Schools FA’s under-14 boys, is also looking to add to her coaching qualifications – and a chat between her and Saltdean boss McTiffen, who also coaches the Sussex under-19 girls, led to the move that is bound to take local women’s football by surprise.
McTiffen told Sent Her Forward: “The only reason she is playing for us is that she is going to be doing a Uefa B [coaching] licence. She needed a team to work with, and I’m good friends with her from Sussex [Schools FA]. I said, ‘You’re more than welcome to come down’.
He added: “She won’t be playing every week. She’ll be a part of the coaching team (which also includes former Lewes Foundation boss Martin Perkins), helping me analyse our performance, and then go from there.
“But of course, she’s strong on the ball. She’s experienced. She does things that the girls are still not up to. But hopefully, the girls are going to learn from her, and certainly I will, as well, as a coach.
“It was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek question a couple of weeks ago. I said, ‘Can you come and help me out at Saltdean?’ And here she was today.”
Sent Her Forward player of the match: Casey Sands (Saltdean United) 8/10
Yes, it could have been Charlotte Young. It could well have been Chloe Evans, both of whom were pivotal figures in Saltdean’s convincing win.
But Sands was once again electrifying and key to her team’s success. Her pace worries defences. She can cope with strong-armed defenders. And she is one of the best finishers I have seen in the women’s game.
Her treble brings her goal tally to 12 in five league and cup appearances for the newly formed team – and the partnership she is developing with Evans and Dayna Kingshott promises plenty more.
Young (8) had an enjoyable debut. She was composed on the ball, tigerish in the tackle and visionary in her passing. She struggled to find her range today, too often over-hitting the spectacular through-balls for her willing strikers, but her pass for Worthing’s third, from deep in her own territory into the stride of Sands, was worth her eight out of 10 alone.
At the opposite end of the experience scale, Evans (8) is a relative novice. Not yet out of her teens, the attacker is mature beyond her years. She showed her intelligence as a 15-year-old, with Lewes’s under-16 side, but her progress has stalled as she coped with a series of injuries.
But today she was back to somewhere near her dynamic best, back on the score sheet but proving a valuable provider of goals, too, with an array of uncannily perceptive passes to her strike partner.
Midfielders Dayna Kingshott (7), in an attacking role, and more defensively, Emily Towner (7) proved reliable foils for the composed Young, while the back four – in its various guises throughout the 90+ minutes – were mightily impressive – Amy Perkins (7) in particular, with some crucial headers as she gave the dangerous Emma Chrimes (7) as good as she got.
Worthing contributed to a thoroughly decent game, though. Chloe Ansell (7) impressed in midfield, as did Steph Carter (7), while Lucy Jellett (7) posed plenty of problems out wide – when she actually received the ball.
And considering the firepower they were facing, Kim Chrimes (7) and Katie Burling (7) stood out in defence.
But pick of the defenders – and unlucky not to win player-of-the-match – was the impeccable Nicole Webley (8) who could have an outstanding future ahead of her.
Sent Her Forward match rating: 7/10 A competitive and entertaining cup tie played in an exemplary sporting atmosphere.