Action from Sussex vs. Royal Navy

Spirited Sussex comeback seals a point against the Navy

Sussex 3 - 3 Royal Navy

A Sara Tubby brace forced a spirited Sussex County FA comeback against the Royal Navy FA at Culver Road on Wednesday night in the Southern Counties Cup Competition.

The Navy came out of the blocks and pressed the home side from the start, and their early pressure came to fruition as soon as the sixth minute as Annie Timoney played a beautifully timed pass to put Ciara Boylan through. The striker finished calmly, stroking the ball onto the inside of the post which lead its way into the back of the net. 

Continued pressure from the visitors led to them doubling their lead just 15 minutes later. A poor clearance from the Sussex goalkeeper Nina Wilson fell to Anthea Kapein, and her precise chip from 25 yards caught the keeper stranded out of position resulting in her being helpless to stop the ball hitting the target.

On the brink of the half-an-hour mark, the Navy put themselves into a three-goal lead thanks to a well taken corner by captain Nat Bavister. Her delivery found the unmarked Nadina Green, who tapped into the bottom corner from 6 yards out giving Wilson no chance. 

The visitors were deservedly ahead at the break, a three-goal lead was maybe flattering for the Navy but their clinical finishing in front of goal was what separated the sides at half-time.

Sussex came out high spirited in the second-half with a slight change in tactics by manager Nici Rice, putting the home side on the front foot; and the changes created a wonderful opportunity for Sussex to pull a goal back.

A free-kick from 30 yards out was well struck by Kellie Larkin and it dipped and bounced just in front of the Royal Navy keeper Keris Abbott. She could only parry the ball into the path of Sussex striker Ariana Fleischman, who got minimal contact on the ball, however it was destined for the net until Nat Brierley miraculously cleared the ball off the line and kept the visitors clean sheet intact.

The Royal Navy’s 3-0 scoreline didn’t look quite as secure as it once had, with Sussex playing like a different team in the second-half. Despite this, the final ball wasn’t coming off for the home side and a bit of luck or individual talent was needed to get themselves back in the game.

That finally came with 15 minutes remaining. Nicole Webley put a perfectly weighted pass through the Navy defence, finding the lively Sara Tubby and she bore down on goal waiting for the right moment to slot past the keeper which she did with a calm, cool and collected finish.

The intense pressure from Sussex didn’t stop there as they pulled another goal back eight minutes from time. Fleischman’s effort on goal was blocked but the ball fell kindly to the feet of striker partner Tubby just inside the box, and she blasted the ball into the bottom corner.

Sussex got the all-important equaliser with just 3 minutes remaining. Relentless pressure on the backline of the Navy proved too much as a loose ball ricocheted nicely into the path of Fleischman, and she spotted Abbott off her line and struck a looping effort over the goalkeeper to complete a late comeback.

Tubby had a fantastic chance to steal all three points and complete her hat-trick, but, after a poor goal kick from Abbott she was unable to capitalise as she snatched at the opportunity and dragged the shot narrowly wide.

After the thrilling match Sussex manager Nici Rice said: “I was quite optimistic, we were playing better football than the opposition and they capitalised on our errors early on.

“At half-time I said don’t over play, keep it simply but get the ball forward more, let’s get them under pressure and go out and win the second-half, we did exactly that, and nearly snatched the result right at the end.”

With some new faces in the squad Rice commented: “Sara Tubby came in and did very well, in the second-half she came on and showed what she can do.”

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

Stats: (Sussex-Royal Navy)
Goals: 3-3; Shots: 10-9; Shots-on-target: 5-6; Corners: 1-6; Fouls: 4-2; Offside: 0-4; Yellow: 0-0; Red: 0-0.

Sussex: Wilson, Kemp, Ward , Elphick, Howell, Webley, Tucker, Larkin, Pilgrim, Tubby, Hyland ©. 
Subs: Fleichman, Robinson.

Royal Navy: Abbott, Perrin, Field, Shorter, McGlashan, Brierley, Bavister ©, Timoney, Green, Kapein, Boylan.
Subs: Flatters, Goodrum, O’Leary, Carragher. 

Match report by Jordan O’Sullivan