The 2017/18 Macron East Sussex Football League season kicked-off on Saturday, with 62 teams spread across six divisions.
Hollington United began their defence of the Premier Division title with a resounding 6-0 win away to Sidley United. Doni Dovla grabbed two of the goals on his Hollington debut, and there was one apiece for Sam White, Grant Payne, Ross Southwood and Luke Woodley.
Last season’s runners-up Battle Baptists needed a 93rd minute goal from Trystan Mayhew to win 1-0 at home to St Leonards Social.
Rye Town triumphed 2-0 away to Bexhill Town in a tussle between two of the promoted sides. Second half strikes by Rob Levett and Richard ‘Alfie’ Weller gave Rye the points.
The other two top flight games both ended in 3-1 scorelines. Goals from Ross Rogerson, Jon-Jo Wright and Wesley Irving gave Sedlescombe Rangers victory at home to 10-man Robertsbridge United, whose goal was scored by Jethro Warren.
Hawkhurst United prevailed by the same score away to Ore Athletic. Louis Hazell, Robert Guile and Oliver Lawrence scored for the Hawks, with Kale Williams on target for Ore.
There were goals galore in Division One, 38 of them in total from five matches.
Two teams won by a seven-goal margin, including Hastings Rangers, who triumphed 8-1 at home to Little Common II. Joshua Blanche (2), Jack Fletcher, Dan Hilder, Mark Blanche, Bradley Moor, William Lelliott and Louis Loureiro netted for newly-promoted Rangers, while Connor Jackson nabbed Common’s consolation.
Northiam 75 were equally dominant, winning 7-0 at home to Herstmonceux. Scott Embery plundered a hat-trick, Stephen Housago bagged a brace, and Nathan Clemans and Dan Hackett got the others.
The day’s highest scoring match came at Barley Lane where The JC Tackleway saw off Westfield II 7-3 in a 10-goal thriller. Toby Payne claimed four goals for Tackleway, whose other scorers were Adam Hull, Josh Eaton and Antons Poplavskis. Zak Hardiman, Marc Barden and Billy-Jo Driver retaliated.
Last season’s Division Two champions Bexhill AAC began life at the next level up with a 4-2 success at home to Mountfield United. Craig Ray struck twice for AAC, and there was one apiece for Luke Dangerfield and Brandon Miah.
There were plenty of goals as well in Division Two. Seven of them came at Gibbons Field where a Casey Ham hat-trick helped fire Bexhill Rovers to a 4-3 win away to Hollington United II. Luke Alais got the other for 10-man Rovers, while Graham Stovell, Michael Shaw and Kelvin Lowes netted for Hollington.
There was another narrow away victory as Bexhill United II prevailed 3-2 against Icklesham Casuals. Ben Barton (2) and Fabio Histed netted for Bexhill, while Charlie Cornford scored both of Icklesham’s goals.
Jack Griffin and Philip Broom scored two goals each for Sovereign Saints in their 4-2 victory at home to a Mayfield side for whom Gavin Winter netted twice.
St Leonards Social II won 3-0 away to Battle Baptists II via the finishing of Will Spice, Ashley McCann and Paimon Hamed.
Punnetts Town were the big winners in Division Three, running out 8-1 victors at home to Pebsham Sibex. George Coleman plundered four goals and Luke Goodey bagged a hat-trick for Punnetts, whose other goal came from Louis Walder. Nick Gamble got the Sibex consolation.
Elsewhere in the fourth tier, two matches ended 5-1 and the other two finished 1-1. William Mantle helped himself to a hat-trick, and Andrew Turner and Jamie Crouch were also on the scoresheet for Sandhurst in their victory at Ticehurst, whose lone reply came from Darren Nicol.
James Bellett scored a hat-trick and Joe Bellett got the other two for Victoria Baptists, who saw off Hawkhurst United II. Conrad Woodgate netted for the Hawks.
Danyal Aldous scored for The JC Tackleway II in their draw at Catsfield, who responded through Nigel Champion. Jamie Bundy’s goal for Magham Down was matched by Liam Baker for opponents Sedlescombe Rangers II.
Cranbrook Town came flying out of the blocks in Division Four with a 7-1 win away to West Hill United, whose consolation was scored by Tyler Smith.
Another promoted side, Bexhill Broncos, ran out 5-2 winners at home to Orington.
Callam Jones struck twice and Aaron Brindley once as Sovereign Saints II won 3-0 at home to Parkfield in the Eastbourne derby.
Bexhill AAC II won 2-1 at home to league new boys South Coast Athletico despite having a man sent-off. Aaron Tudor and Matt Simmons were on target for AAC.
In Division Five, Hampden Park won 4-0 at home to another new team, Beckley Rangers. Strikes by Sam Allward, Matthew Sedgwick, Daniel Weston and William Coles did the damage.
The other new club, AFC Hollington, fared rather better with a 4-1 win at home to West Hill United II. Matt Bricknell, Jamie Handy, Danny Leach and an own goal made up the Hollington tally, while Josh Bolt replied for West Hill.
Sedlescombe Rangers III won 3-1 at home to Robertsbridge United II. Sixteen-year-old debutant Tom Ellis, 17-year-old Edward Manford Keen and new signing Rob Dale were on target for what Sedlescombe describe as their youth development team, Dale scoring from 25 yards following a fine ball from skipper Steve Davey. Paul Rockett scored from the penalty spot for Robertsbridge.
Two goals by Ryan Bennett and one from Daniel Russell gave Herstmonceux II a 3-2 success away to Northiam II, for whom Joseph Powell and Brendon Doughty found the net.
Wittersham II and Battle Baptists III played out a 1-1 draw. Sam Garner’s goal for Wittersham was matched by Jamie Crouch for Battle.