Full day of football at last as weather improves
For the first time in a long time, the entire Macron East Sussex Football League programme went ahead on Saturday.
The drier and milder weather of the preceding week allowed league matches to take place across all six divisions, as well as in seven cup competitions.
As for the league, three games were played in the Premier Division and all the scorelines were fairly decisive.
Hollington United took advantage of previous leaders Battle Baptists being in cup action to go top of the table with a 5-0 win at home to Crowhurst.
Luke Woodley, Sean Ray, Ashley Kidman, Callum Smith and Jay Tomlin were on target as Hollington moved a point clear of Battle with a superior goal difference.
Sidley United went fourth on the back of a 6-0 win away to Ore Athletic, with three of the goals coming in the last 10 minutes.
Sean Baldwin and Gary Hempe netted twice each, former Hastings United midfielder Lee Carey scored on his Sidley debut and Josh Elliott-Noye also found the net.
Sedlescombe Rangers made it 12 goals scored and none conceded in their last two games by winning 5-0 at home to St Leonards Social. They moved up to sixth in the process.
Westfield II moved back up to second in Division One courtesy of a 7-1 victory at home to Mountfield United.
Billy-Jo Driver bagged a hat-trick, and there was one each for Kevin Allman, George Driver, Rob Higgins and Marc Barden.
The JC Tackleway climbed to fourth in a very congested table by virtue of winning 2-1 against third-placed Wadhurst United in a home game moved to Bexhill Road.
Mark Chandler and James Milton netted for a Tackleway side which is four points behind Westfield with four games in hand.
Herstmonceux won 2-1 away to Little Common II in a battle of the bottom two to go seven points above their opponents.
Strikes by Artur Mendes and Connor Middleton moved Herstmonceux within two points of third-bottom Rock-a-Nore, while Jordan Harris replied for Common.
Icklesham Casuals went back to the top of Division Two after winning 3-1 at home to Wittersham in their first league game since way back on December 9.
Bexhill United II slipped to second on the back of a 4-1 defeat at home to fourth-placed Hollington United II.
Michael Shaw, Jay Edwards, Rhys Warren and Jan Bailey netted for Hollington against a Bexhill side whose goal was scored by Andy Matthews.
Bexhill Rovers are guaranteed to finish bottom following a 6-0 loss at home to seventh-placed Mayfield. Gavin Winter grabbed a hat-trick, and Glen Wooden, Simon Betteridge and Harvey Poland also found the net.
Already crowned Division Three champions Punnetts Town saw their 100% league record ended by a 4-1 reverse at home to The JC Tackleway II.
Goals from Toby Payne (2), Andrew Olorenshaw and Danyal Aldous gave Tackleway a notable victory which moved them up to fifth in the table.
Pebsham Sibex went third with a 4-2 victory away to Magham Down despite having a player sent-off. Nick Gamble’s hat-trick ensured Sibex came out on top and their other goal was scored by Dayne Beaumont. Jamie Bundy and Jamie Cherryman notched for Magham Down.
Sandhurst became the first team in the entire league to complete their league fixtures and they signed off with a 2-2 draw away to Catsfield.
Jason Baldock and Chris Kember netted for a Sandhurst side which dropped a place to fourth, while Jacob Jones was among the scorers for sixth-placed Catsfield.
The bottom two went head-to-head and Hawkhurst United II prevailed 2-1 at home to Ticehurst to move six points above them.
In the only Division Four fixture, bottom team Burwash claimed only their second point of the season with a 0-0 draw at home to fifth-placed Sovereign Saints II.
Division Five leaders Sedlescombe Rangers III picked up three more points without even kicking a ball as scheduled hosts Wittersham II were unable to field a team.
Second-placed Hampden Park were the day’s highest scorers after winning 9-2 against West Hill United II on the 3G pitch at Eastbourne Sports Park.
Strikes by William Coles (3), Chris Puttick (2), Tobias Ekroth Smith, Eddie Dunn, Perry Hodgkinson and Carl Barnes kept Hampden Park five points behind Sedlescombe with three games in hand. Marius Viorica and Daniel Wilkes retaliated for West Hill.
Fourth-placed Icklesham Casuals II won 4-1 away to seventh-placed Herstmonceux II in a match where both teams had a player sent-off.
Ken Wadbrook (2), Michael Beaumont and Adam Knight struck for Icklesham, while David Russell retaliated.
Moving on to the cups and Battle Baptists’ defence of the National Christian Cup ended with a 5-1 semi-final defeat away to St Sebastians in Liverpool. A Dean Boyd goal was all Battle had to show for their long trip to the north-west.
Sovereign Saints reached a cup final for the second successive Saturday.
A 4-2 victory at home to Division Three side Victoria Baptists put the Division Two high-flyers through to the league’s Wisdens Sports Challenge Cup decider.
The Coopers Construction Challenge Cup quarter-final between South Coast Athletico and Robertsbridge United II was finally played on the 3G pitch at Bexhill College.
Division Four side Athletico edged out Division Five team Robertsbridge by a Ryan Wright goal to nil.
Division One promotion hopefuls Bexhill AAC triumphed 5-0 away to Battle Baptists II, from Division Two, in a Hastings & District FA Junior Cup second round tie. Craig Ray plundered a hat-trick in between goals from Darren Witham and Jason Cochrane.
Northiam 75 II reached the Hastings & District FA Lower Divisions Cup semi-finals by winning 3-2 away to Division Five rivals Battle Baptists III.
Adam Thompsett and Calum Parker scored for a Battle side which had a player sent-off, but the goals of Hayden Reed (2 including a 90th minute winner) and Dylan Head ensured Northiam edged through.
Rye Town just about kept alive their hopes of a successful Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup defence by scraping past fellow Premier Division club Bexhill Town 4-2 after extra-time.
Rye were behind twice and needed a 90th minute equaliser to force extra-time before netting twice in the final six minutes of the additional half-hour.
Rob Levett scored Rye’s extra-time goals after Charlie Stevens’ first half penalty and Dom Cruttenden’s late leveller. Doni Dovla and Ben Cornelius netted in either half of normal time for Bexhill.
Division One leaders Northiam 75 reached the final of the same competition after continuing their superb form with a third consecutive victory over Premier Division opposition.
A hat-trick from captain Steve Housago gave Northiam a 3-0 victory at home to Hawkhurst United and put them through to their second cup final of the season. That could yet become three because they have a Hastings & District FA Junior Cup semi-final coming up on Saturday April 7.
Two quarter-finals were played in the Robertsbridge Charity Junior Cup and both of them resulted in away victories.
Sedlescombe Rangers II, who are second in Division Three, came from behind to win 2-1 against Division Two side St Leonards Social II. Liam Baker and Ben Gardner were Sedlescombe’s scorers.
West Hill United pulled off a very good 4-1 win in the all-Division Four tie away to Bexhill AAC II.
A Conor Loake hat-trick did the bulk of the damage for West Hill, whose other goal was scored by Stephen Cresswell. Dominic Sinden grabbed AAC’s consolation.