The West Sussex League gained a creditable 1-1 draw against the Brighton & Hove district League, who have improved dramatically from the side they thrashed 7-1 two years ago.
The WSFL were forced to play central midfielder Ross Barnett at right-back after losing two defenders in the build-up.
Bradley Miles, instrumental for the Sussex division-three rep side when they won the inter-league competition last season, made his debut for the WSFL team and was made captain.
The WSFL’s only shot of the first half came from centre-back Rob Torode and it was well saved by keeper Paul Westgate.
Brighton took a deserved lead when good work from Danny Sheargold down the left resulted in Danny Stearman firing in a low shot which crept past unsighted WSFL keeper Alex Wadey at the near post.
Brighton’s Lorne Walls was put through but shot wide under pressure.
At the break WSFL boss Adie Konieczny told his team they should be embarrassed by their first-half performance and they needed to show greater urgency and play a far more expansive game.
The second half was a different story.
Nico Molijn came on after an hour and looked sharp.
James Wrigley replaced the injured Andy Hounsome after 65 minutes and this led to the WSFL equaliser. Wrigley settled into his natural wide-right position, Nick Tilley moved just behind the lone striker and Richie Carter dropped deeper.
Minutes later classy play by Carter set his Billingshurst team-mate Molijn free down the left wing. Molijn burst clear of the defence then showed great vision to pick out Tilley who finished coolly.
Brighton bounced back and almost won it at the death.
The WSFL had one further golden chance which was cleared off the line.
A frantic last five minutes saw WSFL man of the match Alex Wadey make a series of outstanding saves which earned his team a point they probably deserved.
The WSFL need to win their final two games to win the inter-league competition. Next up they face the Sussex division-three rep side at Three Bridges on December 14.
WSFL: Wadey, Hatton, Carragher, Torode, Barnett, Carter, Freeman (Braybon), Miles, Tilley, Hounsome (Wrigley); Robinson (Molijn).
Barnham Res 1 Lavant 4
Lavant dominated with flowing football for the first quarter-hour.
Ryan Seacombe gave them a dream start four minutes in, hammering home a rebound from Lou Weller’s corner. A fine save from keeper Gary Wimbledon prevented Seacombe doubling the lead.
Mike Bartley’s header was close from Weller’s deep cross and Jamie Timlick fired over under pressure from Chris Coe.
Lavant tried to force a second goal when control of the ball would have served them better. Consequently, battling Barnham deserved their inevitable equaliser when Harry Abraham scored in the 29th minute. The turning point came during Barnham’s spell when Neil Sanson pulled off two quality saves – in the 37th minute from Brad Nixon’s penalty kick and two minutes later from Abraham.
The visitors reasserted themselves and went in at half-time with a 3-1 lead thanks to a 42nd-minute goal by Seacombe and a Jon Wright free-kick.
The second half witnessed an all-out assault by the home side with Sanson again impressive in goal. The league leaders struck again through substitute Mike Neville as he finished a delightful move in the 76th minute.
LAVANT: Sanson; Coe, Purgavie, Wright, Lyttle; Weller, Brooks, Stevens, Bartley; Seacombe, Knight. Sub: Neville.
Sidlesham 0 Yapton 0
(Yapton won 4-3 on pens)
This cup tie was played at a brisk tempo with good football from both sides.
Sidlesham lacked a cutting edge but Yapton was resolute in their defending.
Neither side could score in normal time and, in extra-time, Yapton had their captain sent off for a second yellow, last-man tackle.
It went to penalties and Sidlesham’s Gary Jones was first to take one but struck it over. Yapton’s first spot kick was saved by Simon Keen before Tom Bailey’s kick cleared the bar and the clubhouse.
The remaining penalties all went in.
SIDS: Keen, Low, Carragher, Barnes, Jones, Miles, Whitmore, Derry, Dennis, Bailey, Rawlins, Bassil, Brown, O’Neill.