There were some enthralling contests involving our local sides in the West Sussex Football League at the weekend.
In the Premier League, West Chiltington suffered their first league defeat of the season as they slumped to a disappointing 3-2 reverse at Lancing Utd.
The Chilt goals came from strike partners Dan Leppard and Craig Pulling but the visitors were guilty of slack defending to gift the points to their hosts.
Chilt boss Keith Tomsett said: “Our away form is really costing us this season. We had the majority of possession and played most of the game in the opponents’ half so it is hugely frustrating to lose.
“That said, we probably deserved to be punished for missing umpteen chances and some poor defending. I shall be looking for a positive reaction at Upper Beeding next week.”
In Division 1, with Cowfold’s First team’s cup game called off, Reserves boss Mark Hyde resisted the temptation to field any first team players, instead sticking with the players who have taken the side to the top of the league.
And his faith was rewarded with a display full of confidence in a 5-1 win over Selsey A.
Cowfold looked like match-winners from the word go, by far the superior passing team and on seven minutes they took the lead when Rhyse Nash outpaced his man for the first of many times to intercept a back pass and he then found the bottom corner with a low strike.
Michael Nash made amends for an earlier miss from a sublime Greg Brabon crossfield ball when he powered a shot into the bottom corner from Chris Bellison’s equally exquisite defence-splitting pass to put Fold two up.
Selsey rallied for the next 15 minutes without any real cutting edge and on 30 minutes Dan Skett won the ball and found Michael Nash, whose cross in turn found the in-form Phil Marshall to score and take his tally to nine.
Selsey though managed to pull one back just a minute later but Fold’s three-goal cushion was restored before half time when Michael Nash’s cross found brother Rhyse to score his second of the match.
As is so often the case Cowfold were unable to match the dominance they showed in the first half after the break and only produced one more goal for a sizable home crowd expecting double figures.
When Chris Bellison’s free kick was tipped over the crossbar by the Selsey keeper the resulting corner was only cleared as far as Dan Smith who, from 15 yards smashed home a volley which the goalie could only get fingertips to for number five.
Fold had a goal disallowed and Nigel Smith went close to teeing up Marshall, and overall it was a fine team performance for the management team to be proud of.
In Division 2 North Partridge Green continued their recent good run of form with a 5-0 win over Holbrook to move up to fourth in the league.
A hat-trick from Whales and one from Taylor and Partridge, who finally broke his goal drought, gave Green a comfortable three points.
Partridge opened the scoring with a tap-in after only three minutes and soon after Whales rounded the keeper for 2-0.
Holbrook created some chances but Angell pulled off some fine saves in the Green goal, and Jones sent Whales through for number three.
Taylor headed in a corner and Whales wrapped up the scoring from the penalty spot for his 16th goal of the season.
In Division 3 North an inspired performance by man of the match Craig Young ensured Forest came away comfortably 6-1 winners against mid-table Ashington Rovers to preserve their fine start to the season.
Young opened the scoring from long range from Ben Clements’ assist and made it 2-0 before half time when he found the top corner from even further out.
An own goal straight after the restart and a Russ Harwood goal put the game beyond Ashington, and sub Scott Shorey headed in a fifth from brother Dan’s cross. Ashington did finally find a goal but Forest had the final say when Martin Richardson set up Gavin Fowler.
Also in Division 3 North, Alfold Reserves showed good strength of character to come from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw away at local rivals Wisborough Green.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Craig Burrow’s firm low cross forced a Green own goal to pull one back for Alfold, and in the 89th minute Luke Pickett robbed the hosts’ pockets by squeezing a shot in from the narrowest of angles to snatch a late point for the visitors.
In the Tony Kopp Cup West Chiltington Reserves produced one of their best performances of the season in beating Capel Reserves 2-0.
Chilt went ahead on 15 minutes when an excellent corner from Tom Reeves was powerfully headed home by Lea Durrant. Chilt keeper Rin Tomsett made some excellent saves at the start of the second half before Durrent expertly netted his second from Tom Weedon’s through ball.
And in the Centenary Cup Barns Green continued their recent good form with a polished performance to beat Alfold 4-1 in an entertaining cup game.
Against higher league opponents Alfold were far from disgraced, though Green led 1-0 at half time after Steve Blick finished off a great team move with a classy turn and finish. Brother Mark Blick headed in a second after the restart and then added his second with a fantastic strike. A spirited Alfold were rewarded with a Bisset goal but Jack Pestridge rounded things off to set up a meeting with Yapton.
Meanwhile in the Worthing and Horsham District Sunday League, rumours of a job swap between Stevie Kabba and Mark Hughes are now rife as Ajax remain firmly rooted to the base of Division 1 following a 2-0 home defeat to Hillbarn.
A makeshift Ajax side put up a decent fight against their second-placed visitors, although Chris Polson was beaten tamely by a long shot to ruin his 250th appearance and then Tommy Hayes blamed the blistering winter sun for unsighting him for the second.
This spurred Ajax on and Marshall hit a post and Luke Bishop rocketed a header against the bar, while Polson pulled off two quality saves to celebrate 16 years in an Ajax shirt.
There was time at the end for a cameo for Ivica Stojanac on his 52nd birthday.