Tussle for league title rages on
Although we're now into May, the race for the Macron East Sussex Football League title is still well and truly on.
Premier Division leaders Hollington United remain a point clear of second-placed Battle Baptists after both clubs recorded 3-0 victories on Saturday.
A brace of Callum Smith goals and one from Luke Woodley gave Hollington the points away to old adversaries St Leonards Social, while Battle needed second half goals from Trystan Mayhew, Harry Loates and Dean Boyd to triumph at home to bottom club Crowhurst.
Hollington and Battle both have three league matches remaining, including a potential title decider against each other at Gibbons Field. That match will now take place next Wednesday evening.
Rye Town moved back up to third after holding on for a 2-2 draw away to eighth-placed Hawkhurst United, despite playing the final 20 minutes or so with nine men.
Hawkhurst earlier went two-up through the finishing of Robert Briley and Thomas McClintock, but a brace of Richard ‘Alfie’ Weller goals had Rye back on terms by half time.
Rye are above fourth-placed Sidley United on goal difference and both sides have two league fixtures to play.
Fifth-placed Bexhill Town made it three straight wins with a 3-2 success away to a second-bottom Ore Athletic side playing its final match of the season.
Lee Short, Kelvin Lowes and Zack McEniry were on target for Bexhill, while Ollie Edmunds and Ben Gibbs netted for an Ore team which had a player sent-off.
Sixth-placed Robertsbridge United recovered from 2-1 down to win 3-2 at home to 10-man Sedlescombe Rangers. Paul Barnes and Guy Ballard were among the scorers for the Bridge against a Sedlescombe side which netted through Lex Russell and Ryan Edwards.
With Division One leaders Northiam 75 not in action, second-placed Bexhill AAC closed the gap with a 3-0 win at home to bottom-of-the-table Little Common II. Aaron Cochrane’s double and one from Andy Atkin took AAC past the 30-point mark.
The JC Tackleway guaranteed themselves a top three finish by winning 6-0 at home to Mountfield United. A Kale Williams hat-trick, and one apiece from Mark Chandler, Toby Shaw and Joseph Adams gave Tackleway their 10th league win of the campaign.
Rock-a-Nore will finish second-bottom after losing 3-2 away to third-bottom Herstmonceux, who won despite collecting two red cards. Artur Mendes, Connor Middleton and Charles Shearing scored for Herstmonceux.
Fifth-placed Wadhurst United picked up three points without kicking a ball after scheduled opponents Hastings Rangers were unable to field a team.
Sovereign Saints took a step closer to the Division Two after scheduled hosts St Leonards Social II failed to raise a side.
The Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup winners need four points from their remaining two games to secure top spot, although their superior goal difference means that three will almost certainly be enough.
Hollington United II moved up to second place after picking up four points from their double header against seventh-placed Mayfield.
Graham Stovell and Nathan Bradley hit the net as Hollington won the first game 2-0, but they had to make do with a goalless draw in the second match.
Hollington are above the already finished Bexhill United II on goal difference and a point better off than fourth-placed Icklesham Casuals, who like Hollington have two games left.
Wisdens Sports Challenge Cup winners Icklesham stayed in the hunt for a top two spot by winning 4-1 at home to Peche Hill Select. Phil Badrock bagged a brace, and Kieran Dighton and Steffan Davies netted once each for Icklesham, while Jack Godden scored for Peche Hill.
Division Three champions Punnetts Town completed their campaign with a 7-2 triumph at home to fourth-placed Catsfield.
Jack Divall scored a hat-trick, and Tim Johnson, Joe Rowland, Patrick Johnson and Anthony Harvey were also on the scoresheet as Punnetts chalked up their 17th win in 18 league games.
Their total of 51 points is the highest of any club in the entire league as things stand and their remarkable +70 goal difference is also the league’s best.
The JC Tackleway II jumped above Catsfield into third place courtesy of a 10-1 win at home to Hawkhurst United II - the biggest victory of anyone in the entire league on Saturday.
Toby Shaw helped himself to a hat-trick, Toby Payne and Daniel Banfield struck twice each, and there was one apiece for David Burch, Adam Hull, John Benton and James Robinson.
Tackleway have now completed their fixtures and must hope that Catsfield don’t win their one remaining game if they are to stay third.
Third-bottom Magham Down won 5-3 away to rock-bottom Ticehurst via two goals apiece from Matthew Sedgwick and Jamie Bundy, and one from Rossi Ari Williams.
Bexhill AAC II were crowned Division Four champions by virtue of a 3-1 success away to fourth-placed Bexhill Broncos.
Strikes by Dominic Sinden, Darrell Shaw and Ian Rise gave AAC a victory which ensures they cannot now be caught in what’s been a competitive division throughout the season.
AAC, who have one game left, are a point above a second-placed Orington outfit which completed its programme with a 3-2 win away to West Hill United.
Tyler Smith scored both goals for a West Hill team which will finish sixth regardless of the outcome of its final match, against AAC.
Already-crowned Division Five champions Hampden Park hit the 50-point mark following a 2-1 victory at home to seventh-placed Northiam 75 II.
A William Coles double gave Hampden Park their 16th win in 19 league games, but they were run close by a Northiam team whose goal was scored by Tom Powell.
Runners-up Sedlescombe Rangers III completed their league programme with a 5-1 success at home to sixth-placed Herstmonceux II.
Edward Manford Keen, Philip Hatch, Gary Underhill, Ricky Lamb and Liam Jeffery were the Sedlescombe scorers.
Fourth-placed Robertsbridge United II boosted their hopes of a top three finish by winning 4-3 away to Beckley Rangers.
Goals from Daniel Goodsell (2), Adam Hardy and Tom Ripley gave Robertsbridge the edge over a Beckley side which netted through Matthew Rogers (2) and Tyler Lawson.
AFC Hollington climbed two places off the bottom courtesy of a very good 7-3 win away to eighth-placed Wittersham II. Harley Millward plundered a hat-trick, and Aaron Hatton and Jamie Handy netted twice each.
That result means that West Hill United II will pick up the wooden spoon unless they win their one remaining game.
Three fixtures were scheduled for yesterday (Wednesday) evening, although in the end only one took place.
Sedlescombe Rangers moved up to seventh in the Premier Division by winning 2-0 against Crowhurst in an away fixture which was switched to Sedlescombe.
Bexhill AAC received a walkover at home to Wadhurst United, moving them within five points of Division One leaders Northiam with three games in hand.
The Division Three match between Ticehurst and Hawkhurst United II was postponed.
Although a number of clubs have now finished their league matches, 15 league games are scheduled for this coming Saturday, a further half-dozen for Monday and a couple for next Wednesday, as well as cup finals on Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The season will draw to a close on Saturday May 12.
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