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.