The U’s upset Steyning in Cup Final thriller
Eastbourne United emerged victorious from a five-goal thriller to win the Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy. A dramatic winner late on in extra-time made the difference in what was an entertaining end-to-end battle.
Eastbourne started stronger, getting two shots off within three minutes, they took the lead shortly after, the header by Melisa Ferguson from a corner made it 1-0.
Steyning nearly equalised after Abby Chriss flicked the ball over a defender before Sophie Isted rushed in to make a last-ditch tackle. She found some space on the right side soon after with another chance to score but her shot flew wide.
Steyning continued to be a threat, Ellie Kinloch showed great feet to beat the defender and tried to slot it into bottom right corner, but Meagan Sagar kept it out.
Eastbourne had a few chances of their own and eventually scored a second after the ball broke for Laura Stew in the box, she finished into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Steyning were desperate for a goal before half time, but their efforts did not trouble Sagar in goal. Kinloch’s effort from distance before the break was comfortably caught. Ruby Melis attempted a volley from a corner, but her strike soared just wide of the post.
The first-half was close fought with end-to-end action, but Eastbourne United were rewarded for being clinical and went into the break with a two-goal cushion.
Steyning dominated the second-half, with a lot more shots than their opponents. Eleanor Shephard turned the defender and curled a shot towards the bottom corner, but Sagar tipped it wide for a corner.
Chriss tried the spectacular with an overhead flick, but the looping shot was caught. She would get her goal in the end, the forward capitalised on a loose ball and finished into the far corner to pull it back to 2-1.
Eastbourne did not have many chances to grab a third within ninety minutes, the best chance came from substitute Adebola Adewale who was sent through on goal, but her shot was saved by Rebecca Smallman who’s save hit the inside of post before being cleared.
Kinloch tried her luck from distance, her poor shot ended up being the perfect pass for Shephard who controlled it and squared it to Chriss, but she skied it from just a few yards out.
She had another chance to score from a defensive scramble in the box, her shot beat the keeper but was cleared off the line.
After several chances towards the end of the half, Eastbourne’s equaliser came from Ruby Melis’ long shot which Sagar tipped over her head and into the net, which took the final into extra-time at 2-2.
Extra-time was a more even affair with both teams creating scoring chances. Abi Leake found space on the left for a shot, but her effort flew just wide of the post. Omar took a free kick from distance which was tipped onto the bar and over by Smallman.
Several players across the pitch suffered from cramps and injuries as everyone gave it their all, but it was Eastbourne United who scored the winner. Smallman saved the initial shot but palmed it into Hill’s direction who headed it in to make it 3-2, which won them the trophy.
Eastbourne United manager, Phil Hawkins, wanted more from his side in the first-half despite their two-goal lead.
“We started really well, the set piece was something that we worked on in training last night so I was delighted when that came off. Even though we were 2-0 up I still was not happy with the way we played in the first-half.
"I thought we let them get back in the game and got to half time, they did respond, it was hard work we know what Steyning are about they will keep the ball and make you run, so it was all about how we defended and what we did off the ball.”
Hawkins also claimed experience was the difference on the night.
“It was a little bit more experience, we slowed the game down in extra-time to play to our strengths, we knew we could not go gung-ho at them for ninety minutes, if we did that they would have come out on top, but we slowed the game down at the right times. We’ve got a lot of quality and big players in there and they turned up in the last eight minutes.”
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats: (Steyning Town-Eastbourne United): Goals (2-3), Shots (19-17) Shots on target (12-11), Corners (7-6), Fouls (3-2), Offsides (0-1), Yellow cards (0-0), Red cards (0-0)
Steyning Town Community: Smallman, Cardy, Creasey, Derham, L. Bridgewater, Norris, Melis, Kinloch, Shephard, Chriss, Leake.
Subs: Buckley, K. Bridgewater, Newnham, Joyce, Downes.
Eastbourne United: Sagar, Ferguson, Sweetman, Isted, Copeland-Dinan, Townsend, King, Hawkins, Omar, Stew, Hill.
Subs: Rabey, Sutherland, Adewale, Crotty, McKenzie.
Match Report by Jack Bryant