Eastbourne Ladies and Girls winners of the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup Final (Under 16s)

Hat-trick hero Simmons leads Eastbourne to lift Cup

Eastbourne Ladies & Girls 4 - 3 Crawley Wasps Ladies

Eastbourne Ladies & Girls lifted the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-16s) after producing a magnificent display against Crawley Wasps Ladies at Culver Road.

 Eastbourne, an under-15 side competing in this year’s under-16 competition, were firmly on top for much of the contest and although Crawley Wasps were resilient throughout and pushed Eastbourne, they held on right up until the final whistle.

The game’s opening stages saw a hatful of chances created by both sides, but it was Eastbourne who drew first blood after nine minutes.

Megan Cranford registered her thirtieth goal for the club in just seventeen appearances as she completed a sweeping attacking move by slotting the ball in at the near post from close range.

However, Crawley equalised just three minutes later through skipper Chanelle Gainsford, who saw her initial effort parried away, but she regained possession, rounded goalkeeper Amber Pisani-Cleland and poked the ball into an empty net to draw level.

The third goal of the game went Eastbourne’s way, and saw Cranford go from scorer to provider as her long, mazy run down the left flank allowed Becky Simmons to tap home with ease after the Eastbourne captain squared the ball across the face of goal.

Despite Eastbourne’s dominance, Crawley found another equaliser on the stroke of half time; this time through Emily Flegg, who latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area and finished coolly to give the Wasps a crucial goal against the run of play.

In the second half Crawley began pushing for the lead, and they got their goal fourteen minutes after the restart, and what a goal it was; Chloe Bosher firing a perfectly-executed lob over the goalkeeper after picking up the ball in space on the edge of the area.

Eastbourne responded well, and managed to level the scores yet again when Simmons grabbed her second. She latched on to a fantastic through ball from Katie Cooper to slot the ball underneath the goalkeeper and equalise with just over twenty minutes to play.

Paul Critchfield’s  Eastbourne side found another gear in the closing stages, passing it around the Crawley players with skill and precision, and they grabbed the winning goal with four minutes to go.

Winger Elise Jorgenson found herself in acres of space on the right flank and picked out Simmons at the back post, who found the top corner to complete her hat-trick in dramatic fashion and clinch the trophy for Eastbourne.

Critchfield praised his side’s remarkable performance after the match, hailing his team’s latest success as the product of a “fantastic effort all round”.

“We came in today just to play our football and see how we fared against an older side, and we were fantastic,” he said.

“Today there was some really nice passing, they’ve all got confidence and let’s just hope they carry on playing football for a long, long time.”

Eastbourne Ladies & Girls celebrate with the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup under-16s
HIGHLIGHTS - eastbourne Ladies & Girls Vs. Crawley Wasps Ladies
Watch highlights of Eastbourne Ladies & Girls magnificent display to win 4-3 against Crawley Wasps Ladies.

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and also on YouTube - courtesy of FilmMyMatch)

Stats: (Eastbourne Ladies & Girls-Crawley Wasps Ladies)
Goals: 4-3; Shots: 12-7; Shots-in-target: 7-4; Corners: 4-2; Fouls: 3-5; Yellow cards: 0-0; Red cards: 0-0.

Eastbourne Ladies & Girls: Pisani-Cleland, A. Critchfield ©, Burcombe, M. Critchfield, Sheppard, Cooper, Frith, Creese, Jorgenson, Cranford, Simmons. 
Subs: Hasib, Stevens.

Crawley Wasps Ladies: Graves, Livingstone, Mullen, Tilford-Carey, Watts, Gainsford ©, Upton, Nicholls, Flegg, Sullivan, Bosher.
Subs: Hughes, Delaney, Sinden.

Match report by Archie Griggs