Saltdean United vs. Newhaven HERO

Saltdean make history to lift Women's Cup

Words by Sophie Munro
Saltdean United 3-0 Newhaven

Last night saw Saltdean United write their name in the history books, winning their first Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup after beating a determined Newhaven side 3-0 at Culver Road.

From the outset, the tone of the game was very much set, with Saltdean dictating play and setting the tempo. 

Indeed, after just five minutes, the Tigers took the lead through captain Georgia Bridges, who took advantage of a breakdown in communication in the Newhaven box, which saw goalkeeper Annie Hills and defender Jess Mead both come for the loose ball, only for Bridges to get there first and fire at goal, which thanks to a deflection off Mead, ended up in the back of the net. 

With their noses in front, Saltdean immediately went about looking to increase their advantage.

Just over ten minutes later Saltdean almost doubled their lead through Caitlin Sullivan, who, after being picked out by the marauding Molly Hill in the box, blasted a fist time effort on goal, which required Hills to get down quickly at her near post to make the save.

However, after 22 minutes the Tigers persistence paid off, with Paula Howells firing home a low driven shot from just outside the box to send her side 2-0 ahead, after Sullivan had the composure to play the ball to her through Newhaven’s Jess Mead and Faye Hannaford.

The rest of the half saw Saltdean control the game, keeping possession for large suedes of time, and when losing it, pressing in numbers to win the ball back and prevent Newhaven from building any kind of attack.

Yet as half-time drew closer, frustration seemed to grow for Saltdean United, as despite their 2-0 lead, some poor finishing in the closing stages, suggested that an air of complacency might have started to creep in to manager Zak Dove’s side.

Indeed, with just over ten minutes to go before the break, a golden opportunity to put the game out of sight fell to Sullivan, who after picking up a perfectly weighted ball over the top from Bridges, went through with only Hills to beat, yet was unable to guide her shot on target around the onrushing goalkeeper.

The second-half started in much the same vein as the first concluded, with Saltdean content to be patient in possession and building up from the back, and then looking to find a way through the Newhaven backline.

The game continued in this way for 15 minutes, until Sullivan was rewarded for her tenacious play with a goal.

After being played through by a smart lay off by Hill, Sullivan used her speed to get the beating of the Newhaven defenders, and when she found herself one-on-one with Hills, she was able to take a touch and pick her spot, placing her effort in the far corner to make it 3-0 to Saltdean.

Only minutes later, the Tigers could have had a fourth through Bridges, who found herself in a footrace for a lose ball outside the box with Hills, but the Newhaven keeper was able to not only get there first to make the initial block, but also rush back to her line to tip over the Saltdean captains follow up shot.

Saltdean continued to press, constantly claiming possession and firing shots towards the goalkeeper however, but Newhaven gave little away in the manner of clear-cut chances.

At the full-time whistle it was jubilation for Saltdean who’s win against Newhaven, saw them well and truly banish any memories of last weekend’s League Cup Final defeat, and end the season with some well earn silverware.

Speaking after full-time, Saltdean United manager Zak Dove said: “In the first-half we really looked after the ball well, and had lots of chances, so probably should’ve been further ahead. We spoke at half-time about dictating the game, but overall, it was just the kind of performance I asked for going into the game.”

He was keen to praise his side for their hard work and their ability to bounce back following their League Cup Final defeat.

“That’s one thing you can’t question about us, the group of players we have, their mentality is brilliant,” said Dove.

“The group has been brilliant, they look after each other, and yes they have faults like everyone else, but mentality-wise, they’re top-notch, because with this team we always want to be better, and we know that, regardless of the result, there’s always room to improve.”

Dove was also quick to highlight the quality of the attacking display his team put in tonight.

“Since December we’ve been working really hard in training to unlock all of the attacking talent in this side, and tonight just showed the kind of rewards you can get for putting in that kind of hard work, week-in-week-out!”

Saltdean United vs. Newhaven YT
Saltdean United vs. Newhaven - 24-04-24
Highlights from the Sussex Women's Challenge Cup Final - powered by Your Instant Replay!

(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: (Saltdean United-Newhaven): Goals (3-0) Shots (16-1) On Target: (8-1) Corners (11-0) Fouls (6-4) Offside (4-0) Yellow Cards (0-0) Red Cards (0-0).

Saltdean United: Hamilton (GK), Brown, Steer, Boswell, Gates, McIntyre, Bridges (C), Andersson, Hill, Sullivan, Howells.
Subs: Sinden, Jellett, Robinson, Greenlees, Howell.

Newhaven: Hills (GK), Mead, Hannaford, Coade, Dutton, Markham, Franks, McKellar, Evans, Collinson, Empringham (C).
Subs: Quinn, Cook, Ripley, Turner, Cook.

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