Sussex lose out on silverware to Middlesex
Middlesex proved too strong for Sussex in the Women’s Southern Counties Cup Final at Rectory Park on Wednesday evening.
Middlesex went ahead with two early goals, Sussex pulled one back after the break through Jess Lewry who converted from the spot, but the home side ensured the trophy was theirs and went further ahead bagging their third and then a fourth late on.
Karl Davy’s Sussex side saw a few changes in personnel which included four debutants, Abbie Measures and Amy Wollard of Crawley Wasps and Sophie Phelps and Tiff Taylor of Chichester City.
Middlesex started the encounter on the front foot and punished Sussex after just three minutes. Chloe Sampson caused problems from the get go and got the opener after she twisted and turned past Tiff Taylor and Jazz Younger in the Sussex defence, enabling her to slot beyond Graves with ease.
Sussex tried to react immediately as Jess Burke fizzed a ball over the top for Sara Tubby to run onto, but she couldn’t place her effort and fired into the palms of Lizzie Rose.
As the game progressed, Sussex struggled to keep hold of the ball and chances for Middlesex came thick and fast - this soon paid off for the home side when Alessandra Barreca spotted and delivered to Ashley Cheatley who buried past Lauren Graves after twenty two minutes.
Five minutes later, Graves was forced to pull off a fine save to deny Sampson’s powerful shot. Just as the number nines effort looked to be creeping into the bottom right corner, Graves reacted quickly, got down to ground and smothered the ball for dear life.
Sussex went close after half-an-hour when Lauren Amerena plucked the ball down from thin air and unleashed an arrow of a shot which rattled the right post, then bounced off of the left post and still failed to get past the white line.
Towards the final stages of the first-half Middlesex piled on the pressure, Lavana Neufville got the better of Younger, but the centre-back redeemed herself by making a terrific last-ditch tackle to ensure the striker did not cause further damage to the score-line.
Sussex came out after the break with a bit more urgency and managed to pull a goal back two minutes into the second-half.
Lizzie Rose in the Middlesex goal came charging out, brought down Lewry who was in a goal scoring positon and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. The number ten made no mistake in converting her penalty as she nestled the ball out of reach into the top left corner.
Ten minutes passed and Middlesex restored their two goal cushion after Cheatley skilfully tricked Rowe, chopped inside and steered the ball round Graves giving her no hope in between the sticks.
As the clock was ticking down, Sussex tried to find a route back into the final and Lewry was presented with two more opportunities. She found herself in plenty of space and tried her luck from twenty-yards out which looked to be drifting in but Rose pulled off a super save to tip it over the bar.
Lewry then wriggled through the opponents back line and drilled one towards the target which unfortunately flashed the wrong side of the crossbar.
With under ten minutes remaining Sussex didn’t give up, Tegan Ashley delivered a pin-point cross into the box for Amy Wollard, who chested it down nicely but could not make it count as she blasted her effort just over which seemed to sum up her sides night.
The last chance of the match came after Sussex gave away a cheap free-kick - Alissa Down whizzed a deep free-kick into the danger area which was pushed away by Featong Wilde, but her clearance fell to the feet of Anya Kinnane who stabbed home to seal the convincing victory.
Although Sussex topped the Southern Counties Cup Competition South group with a 100% record, it was their opponents Middlesex who finished their chances and made it count on the night resulting in being crowned as the 2018/19 Southern Counties Cup Competition champions.
After the game, Sussex manager Karl Davy said: “To be honest I am quite proud of the girls and I am sure the county is proud of the ladies we have brought in here - they’ve done really well.
“Our ladies put in a good second-half performance, they gave the ball away and nerves snuck into us in the first-half, we gave the ball away way too easy in the first twenty/twenty-five minutes and I think that’s where they hit us and that’s where the first two goals came from - our mistakes.”
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Chris Benn)
Goals: 4-1; Shots: 21-15; Shots-on-target: 11-9; Corners: 7-1; Offsides: 2-2; Fouls: 11-12; Yellow cards: 0-0; Red cards: 0-0.
Middlesex: Rose, Slater, Lopes, Laidler, Keightley, Kinnane, Petit ©, Kummaning, Sampson, Barreca, Cheatley.
Subs: Deluca, Horsnell, Dyzadyk, Down, Neufville.
Sussex: Graves, Burke, Ward ©, Rowe, Younger, Taylor, Ashley, Amerena, Tubby, Lewry, Bacon.
Subs: Measures, Wilde, Wollard, Wingsutton, Phelps.
Match report by Natalie Clarke