Hailsham Ladies blew away their New Year’s cobwebs with a hard-fought Sussex Plate win against Lewes Ladies 2s on Saturday, the result decided by penalty flicks when the game finished 1-1 after full-time.
Early on, Sue Cable came close to opening the scoring for Hailsham, Lindsay Horne dribbling the ball from her own half into the Lewes defence, passing on to Katy James who then found Cable with a precision pass, only for her shot to be just outside goal post.
Lewes counter-attacked, but defender (and Hailsham player of the match) Alison Headey easily picked off the attacker and returned the ball back up to the Hailsham attackers.
The ball spent equal amounts of time at either end as the two equally-matched sides each tried to find the other’s goal.
The deadlock was eventually broken by Hailsham five minutes from half-time, James dribbling the ball to the back line of the Lewes penalty area before passing to Cable who was in place in front of the imposing Lewes goalkeeper; the keeper dived to save Cable’s shot, but the rebound fell to James whose own shot at the keeper was deflected up and over the grounded keeper and arched into the Lewes goal.
The second half started briskly, but once again neither side was able to break the status quo.
Hailsham came close when Susie Smith caught out Lewes defenders by running with the ball from half-way line to set up a one-on-one with Lewes keeper, her deflected shot scooped away from danger by a recovering defender a split second before Cable could get her stick to it in front of an open goal.
The rain, which up to this moment had been light, then started to fall vigorously, but both teams struggled on despite the awful conditions. With Lewes equalising two minutes from the end of full-time, penalty flicks were necessary to decide the outcome and, having lost to Lewes 2s previously on penalty strokes, Hailsham Ladies were not optimistic on the outcome.
Yet six strokes later, with Hailsham having scored five and Lewes only four, the home team set up their place in the final against Mid Sussex Ladies 1s.