Brighton vs. Saltdean HERO

Saltdean seal spot in Women's Cup Final

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Saltdean United

Saltdean United sealed their spot in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final following a 1-2 victory over a Brighton & Hove Albion development side at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre on a blustery Sunday afternoon.

Goals from Hannah Sturdy and Caitlin Sullivan either side of half-time was enough to secure victory for the visitors, Leah Lane with the sole reply for the Seagulls from the penalty spot, in what was a thoroughly entertaining and hard-fought encounter.

The afternoons first meaningful chance went the way of the hosts as the ball made its way across the edge of the box to the aforementioned Lane, but she could only direct her effort straight at Blair Hamilton in the Tigers goal.

Brighton arguably had the best of the opening proceedings, but Saltdean grew into the tie and in her eagerness to affect the game early on Sullivan was finding it difficult to break the Brighton offside trap.

However, after several attempts she succeed on 17 minutes, getting in behind the defence only to be thwarted by a good save by Nicki Kardel at her near post to deflect the shot wide for a corner.

That corner was worked into a shot from distance by Lucy Jellett which as well-held by Kardel.

Further opportunities came and went for Saltdean as Naomi Robinson saw a free-kick go narrowly wide of the angle of post and crossbar, and the influential Paula Howells strike through the crowd from the corner of the box went straight into the grateful gloves of Kardel who held on well.

As the game looked to be heading to a stalemate at half-time, Saltdean for all their endeavour found the breakthrough with 42 minutes on the clock.

Howells’ in-swinging corner caused mayhem in the penalty area and broke for captain Georgia Bridges who had two or three quick-fire attempts from close range blocked, before teeing up Sturdy and her flighted shot found the top corner via a deflection.

Just seven minutes into the second-half and Saltdean doubled their lead, Bridges was involved again, this time breaking away down the left side and playing the ball inside to Sullivan, who’s expert first-touch took her away from the defender, and she kept her composure to slot the ball low past the advancing replacement keeper Comfort Erhabor.

The lead was halved just five minutes later though with referee Paul Barratt pointing to the spot after a foul inside the box, Lane stepped up and confidently dispatched the spot-kick into the top corner, sending Hamilton the wrong way, and pull her side right back into the cup tie and keep dreams of the final alive.

Brighton pushed for an equaliser and shortly after the hour mark Chelsea Ferguson stung the palms of Hamilton with powerful near-post effort that was turned away for a corner.

With a strong wind behind them the Seagulls were soaring forwards, but the Tigers defence roared back and kept them at bay, time and time again, often it was the final pass that just seemed to evade the home side, as they played the ball around purposely but lacked that cutting edge.

In the end Saltdean held on and celebrated jubilantly at the final whistle as they secured their place in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final on Wednesday 24 April 2024.

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Steve Mills Photography)
Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Semi-Final Results

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