As the weather finally allows a decent amount of football to be played in West Sussex, we have news of wins for Lavant and Wittering but a defeat for Chapel - and a decision on what will happen to the West Sussex League’s much-delayed cup competitions this season.
Newtown Villa 2 Lavant 3
West Sussex League premier division
Man-of-the-match James Brooks’ 57th-minute header gave Lavant the three points in their opening game of 2013 at Chalcraft Lane.
But two subsequent controversial refereeing decisions might have led to a different outcome.
For the opening ten minutes the two sides were evenly matched. Villa’s Matt Russell went close from his side’s early free-kick, while Mike Bartley forced a stop from keeper Keelan Belcher at the other end.
Lavant gradually took control but failed to convert their chances into goals, with Belcher’s save from Brooks and Jodey Rowlands’ block from Bartley’s mid-air volley being the highlights of several attempts at goal.
Lavant manager David Parker was just feeling his side might rue these failures to score when captain Matt Stevens ended a slick Brooks-Gabb-Seacombe move with a stunning 20-yard strike into the top corner on 25 minutes.
The home side, who had not looked like scoring, were awarded a free-kick just outside the D and Dan Hendrie sweetly struck home the equaliser 11 minutes from the interval.
But after the restart, the visitors struck twice through Bartley on 51 minutes and Brooks six minutes later and seemed set for a comfortable win. Then came the two momentous decisions.
Ben Purgavie was adjudged to have fouled Russell in the box and the Blues striker converted the spot-kick in the 69th minute to put Villa back in contention.
Before the restart, Lavant’s Jon Wright was shown a second yellow card and sent from the field of play for
arguing with the decision. But ten-man Lavant held out for the last 20 minutes to earn their win.
LAVANT: Sanson; Coe, Purgavie, Wright, Lyttle; Neville, Brooks, Stevens, Gabb; Seacombe, Bartley. Subs: Sandford, Knight.
Wittering Utd 2 Cowfold 1
Sussex Intermediate Cup quarter-final
After two failed attempts to get this tie on, the game was switched to Rookwood Road.
Gary Jones was handed his debut but Cowfold flew out of the blocks and put the home side under pressure early on, testing Ash Rochester in goal on numerous occasions.
The Warriors were unable to string more than one pass together and it wasn’t long before Cowfold opened the scoring. A cross from the right was met by their centre-forward unmarked in the six-yard box and he headed home.
Cowfold should have extended their lead more than once but found man of the match Rochester in fine form to deny them.
The Warriors made a tactical change that saw them gradually gain some possession and they had the better
of the last 15 minutes of the first half, with Greg Robinson closest to equalising with a long-range free-kick that went narrowly wide.
After stern words at half-time the Warriors came out and took control.
After 55 minutes Barry McCoy nearly levelled but his long-range effort was tipped over the bar by the away keeper. Moments later a quick free-kick from Robinson released Tom Jefkins, who crossed for Tom Kelly to fire home from six yards.
Fifteen minutes later tricky winger Joe Jefkins was upended in the box with a penalty awarded. Before it could be taken, Jefkins was man-handled up off the ground.
Martyn Westcott intervened but his actions earned him a red card - just three minutes after he had come on.
Darran Cox fired home the penalty to put the home side ahead with 20 minutes to go.
Cowfold threw caution to the wind and Rochester again saved well to deny them and send the Warriors through to a semi-final against county three side Haywards Heath - Wittering’s fourth semi-final in two years.
WITTERING: Rochester, Pearce, Cowell (Green), Smith (Westcott), McCoy, T Jefkins, Robinson, Jones, J Jefkins, Kelly, Cox.
Milland 8 Chapel 3
Division five south
The players and officials of Milland worked hard to clear water from the pitch so that both sides could play for the first time in over a month.
Both defences found it difficult to turn on the slippery surface and this led to many chances at both ends. Twice Chapel took the lead early on through Chris Smith and Ben Marriner, but each time they were pulled back within five minutes.
Chapel had their best spell of the game around the half-hour, but the whole game changed in the last five minutes of the first half with two goals in three minutes from Milland.
Milland were the better side in the second half and two goals midway through the half gave them a comfortable lead. A late flurry of goals saw the hosts score twice either side of a Lee Bayliss goal for Chapel.
After very careful consideration, the West Sussex League’s competitions committee has decided to abandon all of this season’s cup competitions.
Having looked at the various stages the rounds had got to and taking into account the number of league games left following a multitude of postponements in the past couple of months, the committee felt there was no alternative.
A spokesman said: “The decision was not taken lightly as we realise the impact on all concerned but on this occasion the weather seems to have beaten us.”
Sussex county cups and external competitions are not affected.