The East Sussex Football League has completed January without a single postponement in any of its league or cup matches.
The only game called-off during the first month of the year was an Eastbourne FA Junior Cup tie between Welcroft Park Rangers and Victoria Baptists on Saturday.
According to league fixture secretary Kevin Bray, 114 matches were postponed in January 2014, 77 in January 2015, 98 in January 2016, 37 in January 2017 and 73 in January 2018.
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At the end of last January, 120 matches had been postponed across the season as a whole. This term’s total currently stands at 37 (due to a couple of wet Saturdays in December).
In stark contrast to last season when there was a mad scramble at the end to get through the backlog of fixtures caused by prolonged bad weather, this season’s programme looks set to finish early.
One team in Division Four has only one league fixture remaining and there are several others in various divisions with just two or three league games to go.
In fact, the possibility of introducing an extra competition to give teams some more matches is on the agenda for tonight’s (Thursday’s) league meeting. Some of the various cup finals may be brought forward to March (from April).
Last weekend’s action again contained a mix of league and cup action.
Premier Division high-flyers Battle Baptists returned to form with a 4-1 victory away to Sidcup-based Newgen in a National Christian Cup last 16 tie.
Glen Carrick gave Battle a half time lead and although pegged back on the hour, goals in the final 20 minutes from Bradley Rayner, Dean Boyd and Dale Vinall put the Baptists through.
Two other Premier Division teams, Robertsbridge United and Sedlescombe Rangers, reached the semi-finals of the Hastings & District FA Intermediate Cup.
Robertsbridge prevailed 2-1 after extra-time at home to Northiam 75, while Sedlescombe received a walkover after scheduled visitors Bexhill AAC were unable to field a team.
Paul Barnes scored Robertsbridge’s winner after Chris Phillips’s opener was cancelled out by Northiam’s Nathan Clemans later in the first half of normal time.
Three sides booked their places in the last four of the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup.
Rock-a-Nore scraped past fellow Division Two outfit Peche Hill Select 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw. Richard Saunders netted for Peche Hill.
On the adjacent pitch at Tilekiln, Division Three title hopefuls Bexhill Rovers won 4-2 against Division Two leaders St Leonards Social II.
Division One high-flyers Wadhurst United received a walkover after hosts Wittersham, from Division Two, couldn’t raise a side.
Rock-a-Nore will host Bexhill Rovers in one semi-final and Wadhurst will visit Bexhill United II or Icklesham Casuals in the other.
AFC Hollington and Sedlescombe Rangers III progressed to the semi-finals of the Hastings & District FA Lower Divisions Cup.
Hollington, who are third in Division Five, won 5-0 at home to top half Division Four outfit Battle Baptists III. Kelvin Lowes and Harley Millward netted twice each, and Steven Payne got the other.
Sedlescombe prevailed 2-1 in an all-Division Four affair at home to Icklesham Casuals II. Luke Brundle’s double just eclipsed Adam Sully’s reply.
Sedlescombe will entertain Little Common III in the last four and Hollington will be at home to Burwash or Welcroft Park Rangers.
Battle Baptists II eased through to the semi-finals of the ESFL Wisdens Sports Challenge Cup following a 7-0 win at home to fellow Division Two team Robertsbridge United II.
Gary Bryant (2), Adam How, Adam Higgins Gooch, Ryan Souter and George Harris were among the scorers.
As for the league action, Rye Town recorded their biggest win of the season with a 5-0 victory at home to St Leonards Social in the Premier Division.
A Craig Pierce double, and one each from Darren Warne and Georges Gouet put fifth-placed Rye four-up at half time. Rob Levett completed the scoring.
Bexhill Town went back to the top of the table following a 6-0 win at home to Hawkhurst United last night (Wednesday).
Bexhill are three points clear of second-placed Sidley United and six ahead of third-placed Battle Baptists having played two games more than the latter.
Icklesham Casuals moved up to second in Division One courtesy of a 2-1 win at home to fifth-placed Crowhurst.
Asa Croucher and Harry Blunden were on target for Icklesham, who trail leaders Punnetts Town on goal difference having played an extra game and are two points ahead of third-placed Wadhurst having played three more matches. Jack Austen struck for Crowhurst.
Fourth-placed The JC Tackleway ran out 6-1 winners at Mountfield United. Kale Williams struck twice, and there was one apiece for Toby Payne, Toby Shaw, Charlie Cornford and Mark Chandler.
Catsfield moved up to fifth in Division Two courtesy of a 3-2 success away to The JC Tackleway II, for whom Jack Still scored twice. A Jacob Jones double and one from Josh Paige won it for Catsfield.
South Coast Athletico went three points clear at the top of Division Three on the back of a 7-0 triumph at home to Magham Down.
Connor Easton (2), Harry Jackson, Luke Darvill, Dayle McGurk, Mike Hawley and Bradley Owens were on the scoresheet.
Fourth-placed Bexhill Broncos drew 1-1 away to Bexhill AAC II, while Orington jumped up two places to sixth via a 3-2 win away to Sandhurst.
Thomas Blything’s hat-trick earned Orington an important victory as the goals of William Mantle and Jamie Young couldn’t prevent Sandhurst slipping to second-from-bottom of a congested table.
Cranbrook Town won 5-2 at home to Northiam 75 II in a clash between second and fourth in Division Four.
The goals of Ben Cooper (2), Wayne Beaney, Jon Bilsby and Thomas Budd won it for Cranbrook, in spite of Paul Rockett’s double for Northiam.
Cranbrook are now five points behind leaders Hampden Park having played a match less, while Northiam remain 12 points off the pace with three games in hand.
Bottom-of-the-table Ticehurst claimed their third league win of the season with a 5-1 success at home to West Hill United.
Toby Tapp (2), Joe Kennard, Oliver Skilton and Pruteanu Danut Iumut scored for Ticehurst against a West Hill side whose consolation was netted by Tyler Smith.
The Division Five title race took an interesting twist as leaders Little Common III were held to a 3-3 draw away to fifth-placed Hooe.
The goals of Kenny Davison Mitchell, Aiden Pierce and Matt Stretton for Hooe were matched by Connor Jackson’s brace and an Andrew McTear strike for the Commoners.
Common are now nine points clear of second-placed Welcroft Park Rangers having played three more matches and 12 better off than third-placed AFC Hollington having played four more games.
Weather permitting, matches are scheduled in all six divisions, plus six cup competitions, this coming Saturday.