Sussex County FA vs. Royal Navy FA

Sussex Women sink the Royal Navy

Royal Navy 1 – 3 Sussex

Sussex’s Women utilised all the armoury at their disposal to sink the Royal Navy in the shadow of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard at HMS Temeraire on Wednesday night. 

At the aptly-named Victory Stadium, Sussex - with Culver Road coach Lee Hayes their helmsman in the absence of regular manager Karl Davy - secured a hard fought victory over their Naval counterparts with three first-half goals. 

Both sides had won their opening encounters in the Southern Counties Cup competition – 7-0 and 2-1 against Kent and Jersey respectively – so something had to give, and the visitors young, new-look side eventually and deservedly prevailed from a game played in bitterly cold conditions.

Although Holly Cole went close early on for the Navy, a Sussex victory never really looked in doubt from the moment Teagan Ashley put her side ahead in the 16th minute.She burst clear and fired in her finish beyond advancing keeper Louise Worsfold to kick-start a madcap six minutes.

Jess Burke almost inadvertently turned the ball into her own but recovered to clear before, moments later, battle-hardened Sussex broke and scored again though 17-year-old Skye Bacon with a carbon copy of her team mate’s clinical finish on 22 minutes.

Despite the Navy looking holed below the waterline, they continued to keep their heads above water and called visiting keeper Lauren Graves into action twice in quick succession. First, she kept out a header from Ellie Hayes-Wright and then denied Hannah Simpson whom tried her luck from distance. 

Worsfold saved superbly from Sara Tubby at the other end, but the keeper was powerless to prevent a third Sussex strike on the cusp of the half time interval.

Lewes’ Meghann Wingsutton, whom began the match on the bench cut inside and slammed the ball into the top corner on the angle to put the result beyond any lingering doubt. 

Worsfold, almost single handedly at times, prevented Sussex from running completely riot. She blocked well at the feet of Hayley Bridge and then flung herself low to tip a Jaime Quinn effort around the post. 

To their credit, the Navy plugged away and pulled a goal from the penalty spot through Anthea Kaptein, who dusted herself down to score a consolation having been felled by Michelle Ward. 

Cole fired wide and Ava Rowbotham headed off the line from home captain Natalie Bavister as it was all hands to the pumps for Sussex in the closing stages.

Despite their spirited second-half showing, the Navy were unable to turn the tide as Sussex held firm in the face of belated pressure.

Sussex now sit atop the four-team group in the Cup, and coach Hayes was pleased with the result and in particular his side’s performance. He said: “We played very well in the first half, second half they came out and put us under pressure but we coped well with that, there were a lot of niggly moments which disrupted us and the flow of the game.

“Jess Burke had a very good game at full-back, not her natural position, and I’m pleased that the team have gelled, as a collective we’re looking strong despite not being together long, a new, young group of players from different corners of the county can be difficult to mould into a cohesive side but we’ve managed to do that so far.

“A good win, we’ve got a home game next up with Jersey in the New Year, we’ve built up form and momentum so it’s important to keep that going now.”

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

Stats: (Royal Navy-Sussex)
Goals: 1-3; Shots: 10-13; Shots-on-target: 1-4; Corners: 4-1; Fouls: 7-6; Off-sides: 4-7; Yellow cards: 0-0; Red cards: 0-0.

Royal Navy: Worsfold; Boylan, Canning, Unsworth, Randall, Bowden, Cole, Bavister, Simpson, Kaptein, Hayes -Wright.
Sub: Messer. 

Sussex: Graves; Burke, Ward, Russell, Younger, Rowbotham, Bacon, Davies, Bridge, Tubby, Ashley.
Subs: Quinn, Winsutton, Philpott.

Match report by Jamie Spoor