Sussex County FA under-18s vs. Jersey

Sussex stunned by jubilant Jersey

Sussex 1 - 4 Jersey

South East Counties Youth Championship (Under-18s) newcomers Jersey stunned reigning champions Sussex at Culver Road on Sunday afternoon with clinical finishing proving to be the difference between the two sides.

The afternoon looked to be taking a different path when James Waters fired Sussex into an early lead from the penalty spot, but Jersey equalised with half an hour gone and took the lead just before the break, both goals from the impressive Sol Solmon.

Sussex tried in vain to get back into the game in the second-half with Thomas Harris adding a third for the visitors and Andy Roxburgh a fourth late on to seal the points and make their journey home that little bit sweeter. 

Sussex controlled the early proceedings of the match and took the lead with little over five minutes on the clock. A short goal-kick from Jersey played themselves into trouble and Waters nipped in to get a toe on the ball before the advancing Jersey goalkeeper Josh Jehan to win the home side a penalty. Waters stepped up to take the penalty himself and sent Jehan the wrong way as the ball nestled in the bottom right corner.

Further opportunities came and went for Sussex in the opening half hour, Waters dragged a shot wide when well placed, Dylan Gifford tried his luck from range which was well dealt with by Jehan and Josh Gould saw a speculative effort on the half-volley drop narrowly wide of the far post.

The visitors would make Sussex pay for those missed chances as Solomon pulled his side level with their first shot-on-target on thirty one minutes. The striker did well to evade a few challenges in the penalty area before firing low across Mitch Bromage and into the net.

The game opened up then as play went from end to end with Jersey nearly scoring again five minutes later as Josh Coutanche whipped a free-kick from twenty-five yards out narrowly wide of the post. At the other end neat interplay between Waters and Gould presented the latter with a great opportunity for Sussex but he could only blaze over the crossbar when well placed.

On the stroke of half-time Jersey took the lead. A corner from the right was cleared by the Sussex defence and picked up by Jersey full-back James Carr who strode forward purposefully wriggling past several players before laying the ball off to Solomon who scored his and Jersey’s second, again striking low across Bromage and into the corner.

Sussex came out for the second-half full of purpose and were on the front foot from the off looking for a route back into the game. Skipper Luca Cocorachio nearly equalised with fifty five minutes on the clock when he advanced from the back, played a neat one-two with Darius Goldsmith, and then delicately lifted the ball towards the top corner only for it to fly marginally wide of the angle of post and crossbar.

Five minutes later a free-kick in a dangerous position for Sussex was struck by Gifford into the wall, with the ball falling kindly for Tyrese Mthunzi in the box, but Jehan was off his line quickly to smother the shot and preserve his side’s lead.

Jehan was called into action again a minute later when he was out quickly to thwart Gifford one-on-one as Sussex were pushing for the leveller.

Frustration started to build for Sussex and Jersey grew into the half. They nearly extended their lead with two opportunities in quick succession with twenty minutes to go. 

The first came about in similar style to their goal in the first-half as Carr again ran forward with the ball and laid it off to Solomon, but this time the strikers high curling effort was just off target. Their second chance was spurned by Andy Roxburgh as he rose highest to meet a deep ball into the box but Rudy Stilgoe did well in the Sussex goal to dive across and hold on to.

Sussex were still a threat however and Andrew Briggs saw a well-struck curling free-kick on seventy one minutes cannon off the crossbar and over before the real turning point in the match followed minutes later…

A cross-field ball to the lively Gould presented the Sussex striker with the opportunity to run at the Jersey back line and just as he made his way into the penalty area he was fouled, with referee Steve Hughes correctly pointing to the penalty spot for the second time in the game. The outcome of the penalty however, was very different.

With Waters off the field through injury the penalty responsibility fell to Briggs, and despite striking low and powerfully into the corner Jehan dived across expertly to get a glove on it, and was then up quickly to deny Briggs from slotting in the rebound - a fantastic double stop by the goalkeeper.

That penalty save changed the game and within two minutes Jersey extended their lead. Kushal Frankson cut inside from the by-line and played the ball across to Harris who struck a sweeping effort first time into the top corner from eight yards out.

Sussex looked dejected, contemplating what might have been, and three nearly became four on eighty three minutes, as Solomon played the ball off to Jack Lowrey but his shot was repelled by Stilgoe with Solomon unable to adjust himself quickly enough to make anything of the rebound.

There was still time for Jehan to deny Sussex once more, this time using an outstretched leg to save from Gifford after the attacker had got in-behind the Jersey defence.

Jersey did get their fourth goal with three minutes left on the clock, and Sussex really only had themselves to blame, after casually losing the ball in midfield, Roxburgh spotted Stilgoe off his line, and from distance lobbed the ball over the keeper and in to the net to cap off a fine day for the islanders.

After the match Sussex manager Jay Lovett reflected on the performance and how the outcome could have been much different had his side take some of their chances in-front of goal: “It’s a frustrating performance considering we controlled large portions of possession and created a lot of chances but just couldn’t find the back of the net today.

“I think we got frustrated not taking our chances, and the more frustrated we became the less our quality shone through. If you take our last performance we played the ball around and were clinical in front of goal, this week we had some of that performance but we just weren’t clinical enough and it came back to bite us.

“Credit to Jersey they played well and their keeper pulled off a few fantastic saves including the penalty, for us it just wasn’t to be today, it was frustrating to watch and I imagine frustrating to play in.”

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

Stats: (Sussex-Jersey)
Goals: 1-4; Shots: 17-12; Shots-on-target: 10-6; Corners: 2-4; Offside: 5-0; Yellow: 2-1; Red: 0-0.

Sussex: Bromage, Pittock, Harper, Briggs, Addy, Cocorachio ©, Mthunzi, Goldsmith, Waters, Gifford, Gould.
Subs: Allen, Stilgoe, Brady, Rawlinson.

Jersey: Jehan, Huckerby, Carr, Thompson, Watts, Le Seelleur, Frankson, Harris, Marcinko, Solomon, Coutanche.
Subs: Roxburgh, Pallett, Pereira, Lowrey, Baines.

Match report by Darren Ford