Saltdean United Ladies 1-2 Newhaven Ladies (HT 1-1)
Saltdean and Newhaven Ladies played out an enthralling game at Hill Park on Sunday in the Sussex County FA Women’s Trophy Quarter Finals in appalling conditions as the pitch became a bog after heavy rain just before kick off.
The Dockers just edged out the Tigers winning the game by two goals to one but it could have been very different.
Saltdean started the game very well and dominated the opening exchanges with some neat passing and build up play through the midfield. They created the first meaningful chances as crosses flashed across the box and a series of corners put the Newhaven defence under severe pressure.
Charlotte Young at the back kept a close eye on the league’s top scorer Chloe Winchester and was orchestrating the Saltdean play from the back and with Casey Sands playing on the shoulder of the Newhaven centre backs of Natalie Ring and Paige Bashford-Robertson she was always a danger as the through balls were being threaded through.
And it was on twenty minutes that one of these passes got past the Dockers defence and Sands latched onto it but Hannah Paul was quick and decisive off her line and with Sands certain to score Paul made a fantastic save as she made herself big and the shot went into her body to keep the score goal less.
Newhaven then stepped it up and went on the break at the other end as Paige Ripley picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and skipped a challenge to break into the box on the left but her left foot shot was wide.
Katie Franks was then played in down the right but Ellie Coade and her cross was saved by the keeper.
Then the breakthrough on 27 minutes as Charlotte Lloyd hit a big tackle on Sands on the half way line and played the ball forward to Winchester who in turned switched the play to the left to Lauren Smith who immediately took on the full back and sent in a long deep cross which sailed over the keeper and nestled into the back of the net at the far post to give the Dockers the lead (0-1).
However, this lead lasted just two minutes as Saltdean bounced back and deservedly equalised when they picked up a loose ball in the midfield and worked it quickly to the left where Kingshott slipped the ball into the channel for Sands to race through and place the ball past Paul at the near post. It was nothing more than Saltdean deserved (1-1).
Saltdean were now well on top and Newhaven’s usual slick passing game was not allowed to develop as they got deeper in their half and could not retain possession. However on a rare occasion Winchester got away from Young and turned and shot on the edge of the area but the shot was saved.
Saltdean then broke and worked the ball to the edge of the area where a shot from outside the penalty area just went wide of Hannah Paul’s right hand post.
But the last attack of the half fell for Newhaven as Ripley played a very good ball inside the left back for Franks to run onto and as she cut inside the box her last touch was just too heavy and the ball ran off and the danger was gone. (1-1 HT).
With the conditions deteriorating as the afternoon went on the pitch was becoming harder and harder for the players to stand up, particularly down the middle and so the second half kicked off with steady rain still falling and the floodlights on.
It appeared the Newhaven ladies had had a pep talk at half time as they came out with much more purpose and a far better shape, particularly in midfield. Immediately Coade and Ungoed started to dominate and Ripley found some more space in behind Winchester who was peeling off right and left and playing in the channels. Newhaven started to press higher up the pitch and were on the front foot.
Lloyd played the ball down the right for Franks who eventually won a corner and as this swung in from Smith, Lloyd and Coade nearly got on the end of it but the ball was cleared.
A break then down the left where Harker played the ball over the top for Smith who raced onto it and flashed a cross in but it just evaded everyone.
Ungoed then dispossessed the Saltdean midfield and broke through again feeding Franks who squared it for Winchester but Young came across with a last ditch tackle.
With the pressure building the Dockers found a breakthrough on the hour mark. Coade won the ball in midfield and passed to Ripley who had time to turn in the mud and thread a great through ball for Franks who cut in from the right and shot across the keeper and into the far corner to give the away side the lead (1-2).
The Dockers defence then had to stand strong as there was a barrage of attacks from Saltdean who searched in vain to get back in the game. Lloyd made a terrific tackle when the left winger looked destined to nip in and then a series of clearances from Ring and Bashford-Robertson maintained the lead.
Saltdean made a couple of substitutions to freshen things up and on 70 minutes the ball was worked towards the edge of the Newhaven box and a shot from 20 yards looked set to find the far left corner but Paul got down late and dived to her right tipping the ball just past the post for a brilliant save.
Newhaven defended the corner and broke clear with Ripley picking the ball up and driving forward and feeding Franks and she managed to get high up the pitch and win a corner. Smith sent the corner in and Coade rose above everyone but just put the header wide of the far post.
Saltdean continued to try and play out from the back but with the pitch almost unplayable the Newhaven front three of Smith, Winchester and Franks were pressing quickly and winning the ball back and when Winchester wrestled Young off the ball and played it to Smith the Saltdean defence stopped and waited for a free kick which was never awarded and Smith pulled the ball back for Winchester who shot at the keeper.
Into the last ten minutes and Newhaven sent on Paige Fowler for the tiring Ripley and she immediately got in the action picking up the ball and switching play. Then good work from Harker at left back stopped a dangerous Saltdean break and again Lloyd came in with a big tackle as Saltdean threw bodies forward.
Ungoed then dispossessed the Saltdean midfielder with a superb tackle and won a free kick at the same time to relieve some pressure. However Saltdean were to have another chance as Sands had a shot from the edge of the area which was straight at Paul.
Lucy Collinson replaced captain Ellie Coade with five minutes to go and Rachel Hamlet came on for Smith who had worked extremely hard on the left and was out on her feet. Newhaven now managed the game with the clock ticking down and worked the ball into the corners to see the game out and as the final whistle sounded there was elation for the Dockers in an excellent game for the healthy crowd.
Joint Manager Andy Cook was delighted after the game and said: “That was our toughest test this season without doubt. Much credit should go to Joe McTiffen and his Saltdean team who played some great football in the first half on a pudding of a pitch.
“They worked the ball really well and we were chasing shadows for much of the time. We couldn’t get a grip of the game and some of the Ladies were getting very frustrated with their performance and the conditions. Half time came at the right time and I was praying for that half time whistle so we could get in and regroup.
“We made a couple of tactical changes and came out with a real purpose second half and I thought the Ladies were great. We pressed higher, found more space, started to get Chloe in the game and defended really well and higher which enabled the midfield to push on.
“The winning goal was really well worked with a delightful pass from Paige Ripley to Francko who timed her run to perfection and her shot was even better. But I must pick out Hannah Paul who made two terrific saves in each half which were so important.
“The ladies never give up and the spirit in the camp is something else. A 100% winning record so far at the half way stage and two cup semi finals to look forward to can’t be bad for a first season for Newhaven Ladies.”
Newhaven: Hannah Paul, Charlotte Lloyd, Jade Harker, Ellie Coade (c) (Lucy Collinson), Paige Bashford-Robertson, Natalie Ring, Katie Franks, Georgia Ungoed, Chloe Winchester, Paige Ripley (Paige Fowler), Lauren Smith (Rachel Hamlet). Unused subs: Taylor Coade, Jas Godden.