Hassocks Ladies winners of the Sussex Women's Challenge Trophy

Hassocks see off Burgess Hill to take Women's Trophy

Burgess Hill Town 1 - 2 Hassocks

Hassocks Ladies lifted the Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy for the first time in their history as they held on to beat Burgess Hill Town Ladies 2-1 at Culver Road.

Headed goals from Kelly Rushworth and substitute Liz King either side of half-time clinched the title for Hassocks, who turned the game around following Jade Chapman’s opener for the Hillians.

Burgess Hill began the game with a sense of urgency as they looked to take the lead early on; Diana Vilciu missed a great chance to open the scoring inside the first minute after she had latched onto Jess Saunders’ cross-field pass, but couldn’t find the target with her effort.

The opening goal came with eleven minutes on the clock as a pinpoint delivery from Saunders out wide found the awaiting Chapman who thumped a bullet header past the goalkeeper and into the top corner. 

Hassocks responded well, beginning to move the ball smartly, and could have drawn level seconds later through Rushworth but the Hillian defence stood firm to thwart any potential equaliser.

Martin Lee’s side continued to ask questions of Burgess Hill, with striker Billie Phillpot once again their focal point in attack.

The club’s top scorer threatened every time she picked up the ball, and came close in the 21st minute when her snapshot from the edge of the box narrowly evaded the near post.

The equaliser arrived with just over ten minutes of the first period remaining; Rushworth made no mistake with her second bite of the cherry in the match, arrowing a close-range strike into the far corner after she was allowed room to turn inside the penalty area.

Hassocks, rejuvenated by the goal, began to grow into the game, with most of the play taking place in the Burgess Hill half as half-time approached, and after the interval they maintained their momentum as they hunted a second.

Phillpot had an excellent opportunity to put Hassocks in front when she latched onto a long ball forwards, but was denied excellently by Casey Dunford who parried her effort beyond the post.

The elusive winner came with twenty minutes remaining when King rose highest to meet an in-swinging corner and put Hassocks firmly in the driving seat, and they maintained their dominance in the closing stages despite an aggressive late onslaught from Burgess Hill, with Maria Bardea coming closest as her effort looped over the bar.

Phillpot was denied twice by the woodwork in added time as she looked to seal victory, but Hassocks saw out the match regardless, continuing their remarkable unbeaten run which stretches back to September 2018.

Manager Martin Lee was full of praise for his side following the final whistle, singling out Phillpot, who worked tirelessly all game to create countless chances.

“Even though she didn’t score, she made so much trouble for them. She’s a fantastic player,” he said.

“It’s the first time we’ve got through to the final. It was a tough game and it means everything to them.”

Hassocks Ladies celebrate winning the Sussex Women's Challenge Trophy
HIGHLIGHTS - Burgess Hill Town Ladies vs. Hassocks Ladies
Watch highlights of the Sussex Women's Trophy Final between Burgess Hill Town Ladies vs. Hassocks 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 Your Instant Replay) 

Stats: (Burgess Hill Town Ladies – Hassocks Ladies)
Goals: 1-2; Shots: 7-15; Shots-on-target: 3-5; Corners: 2-4; Fouls: 4-1; Offsides: 0-0; Yellow cards: 0-0; Red cards: 0-0.

Burgess Hill Town Ladies: Dunford, Harvey, Lawrence, Vilciu, Ashby (c), Bardea, Saunders, Gittins, Nash, Gray, Chapman. 
Subs: Lees, Bucur, Morley, Pollendine, Goulding-Huckle.

Hassocks Ladies: S. Chappell, John, Stevens, Newman (c), Young, Bright, Craig, K. Chappell, Mair, Phillpot, Rushworth. 
Subs: Larmar, King, Banitas, Johanson, Hannes.

Match report by Archie Griggs