Baptists sink Town to go five points clear
Battle Baptists strengthened their hold on top spot in the Macron East Sussex Football League by winning a third versus first encounter on Saturday.
The Baptists struck twice in either half to win 4-0 away to Rye Town and go five points clear at the Premier Division summit, albeit having played two more games than second-placed Hollington United, who were without a fixture.
Thomas Cann and Glen Carrick netted in quick succession to put Battle two-up in the first 15 minutes before a brace of Adam Staplehurst goals in the final 20 minutes sealed their second successive victory and clean sheet at the start of 2018.
The result ended Rye’s remarkable 30-match unbeaten run in all competitions stretching all the way back to November 12, 2016.
Elsewhere in the top flight, Hawkhurst United climbed a place to sixth on the back of a 4-3 success at home to St Leonards Social. Chris Scott, Shane Ryan and Brett Patten scored for Social, but the Hawks came out on top via two goals apiece from Thomas McClintock and Steven Filmer.
The drier weather of the preceding week allowed the pitches to recover sufficiently for 17 league games and four cup ties to go ahead.
Three of those league fixtures came in Division One and leaders Northiam 75 were held to a 1-1 draw away to second-bottom Herstmonceux.
Stephen Housago’s goal for Northiam was cancelled out by Ashley Mutter’s strike for Herstmonceux.
The result extended Northiam’s points advantage into double figures, but third-placed Bexhill AAC - their main title rivals - have four games in hand having not played in any competition since way back on November 18.
Wadhurst United advanced into the top six courtesy of a 2-0 win at home to fifth-placed The JC Tackleway. Ryan Bateman and Matt Harman got the goals.
Third-bottom Rock-a-Nore made it back-to-back victories with a 2-0 success at home to Little Common II, who are now seven points adrift at the foot of the table.
Three fixtures were also played in Division Two and with neither of the top two in league action, Bexhill United II moved up to third by virtue of a 2-1 triumph away to Bexhill Rovers.
In a match moved to Bexhill Road, a Kenny Davison Mitchell goal wasn’t quite enough for a Rovers side which is three points adrift at the foot of the standings.
United are now just two points behind second-placed Sovereign Saints, albeit having played an extra game.
Peche Hill Select dropped a place to fourth - a point behind United having played three more times - after drawing 2-2 away to a Hollington United II side which is only a point behind them with three games in hand. Joe Worsley and Shane Friend were on target for Peche.
Sixth-placed St Leonards Social II are only three points outside the top three following their 3-1 triumph away to second-bottom Wittersham. Two Kieran Martin goals and one from Ashley McCann gave Social the points.
Punnetts Town surged five points clear at the summit of Division Three thanks to a 6-3 win at home to Victoria Baptists.
Tom Goodey, Jack Divall and Patrick Johnson scored twice each for Punnetts, while Thomas Macdonald and James Bellett replied.
Punnetts remain the only team in the entire league yet to drop a point this season having won all 11 of their league contests to date. They also have two games in hand on their nearest pursuers.
The only other match to go ahead in the fourth tier ended in a 1-1 draw between third-placed Pebsham Sibex and a Catsfield outfit which has climbed to fourth. Nick Gamble netted for Sibex.
Orington went top of Division Four via a 6-0 success at home to bottom side Burwash on the artificial 3G pitch at Bexhill College.
Adam How (2), Dale Matthews, James McGrath, Andy Swindles and Nick Sheppard found the net for Orington, who are now two points clear of long-time leaders Bexhill AAC II having played an extra match.
Third-placed Bexhill Broncos, who are six points adrift of Orington, kept in touch with the top two by winning 2-1 away to West Hill United.
Jack Harman was among the scorers for the Broncos, while Daniel Wilkes found the net for a West Hill side which had a player sent-off.
Also at Ark William Parker Academy, fourth-placed South Coast Athletico lost 2-0 at home to a Cranbrook Town team which is up to sixth.
Four games went ahead in Division Five - the most of any division - and Hampden Park went back to the top by winning 2-1 at home to previous leaders Sedlescombe Rangers III.
Strikes by William Coles and Chris Puttick put Hampden Park a point clear of Sedlescombe and avenged their single-goal loss in last month’s reverse fixture.
Battle Baptists III strengthened their hold on third place by winning 4-0 at home to Robertsbridge United II, who have dropped a place to fifth.
Jamie Crouch (2), Josh Barraclough and Aaron Jamieson hit the target for Battle, who netted three times during the final quarter of the contest.
Icklesham Casuals II moved above Robertsbridge into the top four by dint of a 4-0 success at home to West Hill United II. Adam Knight, Michael Beaumont, Mason Maddox and Christopher Osunsami did the damage.
AFC Hollington climbed off the foot of the table after winning 2-1 against a Beckley Rangers side which replaces at the bottom.
In a fixture switched from Beckley to Bexhill Road, Hollington prevailed thanks to the finishing of William Lelliott and Jordan Miller. Sam Roberts scored Beckley’s goal.
The league’s involvement in the Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup is over (unless Hollington United’s appeal against their removal from the competition is successful) after Sidley United lost 5-1 in their home quarter-final against Angmering Seniors.
Sean Baldwin nabbed a consolation for Premier Division club Sidley against an Angmering team which is yet to drop a point in the West Sussex League Premier Division.
Division Two leaders Icklesham Casuals booked their place in the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup quarter-finals, but were made to work for their 3-2 victory away to Division Three side Sandhurst. James Found and Craig Walsh struck for Sandhurst.
Doni Dovla plundered a four-goal salvo to give Premier Division club Bexhill Town a 4-0 win at home to Division One side Hastings Rangers in round one of the Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup. Bexhill will host holders Rye Town in the quarter-finals.
Sedlescombe Rangers II knocked fellow Division Three team The JC Tackleway II out of a cup competition for the second time this season.
Sedlescombe won 4-2 away from home to reach the Robertsbridge Charity Junior Cup quarter-finals. Harry Blunden and Toby Payne notched for Tackleway.
A full league programme is scheduled for this coming Saturday, and Bexhill AAC, Icklesham Casuals, Sovereign Saints and Wadhurst United are due to contest rearranged Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup fourth round ties.