Bexhill are champion of champions - Crowhurst and Little Common celebrate too

Bexhill Utd U18’s completed their historic 2021-22 season with a visit to Hassocks on Sunday to take on Southern Combination North league winners Alfold in the SCFL Champion of Champions final.

After reaching the last qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup and lifting the Southern Combination South league while remaining unbeaten all season, they travelled full of confidence.

Cheered on by a large Bexhill following, the young Pirates started strongly and dominated the early exchanges with the Alfold keeper making a spectacular save to deny Ollie Hull after just 10 minutes.

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Bexhill continued to dominate possession as Alfold struggled to contain their slick passing and their dominance was richly rewarded with a fantastic opening team goal.

Bexhill U18s celebrate their latest trophy win / Picture: Joe Knight

Aaron Cook picked up the ball just inside his own half after great work from Nathan Corke and found flying winger Ollie Hull, who threaded a perfect return ball onto Cook who coolly slotted under the Alfold keeper.

Alfold came back into the game after the goal without really creating any clear-cut chances, and keeper Cody Craddock dealt comfortably with a couple of long range efforts, while at the other end Bexhill always looked dangerous on the break with the movement of striker Luka Martinaj causing problems for the Alfold defence.

Bexhill came out for the second half full of confidence and continued to dominate possession. Cook saw a header just shave the top of the bar while Jhon Caicedo had a long-range effort just wide.

Little Common U15s celebrate

On the hour Alfold had their first and last real chance of the game. A cross in from the left was not dealt with and the dangerous Alfold striker struck the post with the rebound blasted high and wide.

This refocused Bexhill and they regained their control before a sickening injury to influential midfielder Joe Skinner held up play for seven minutes.

This visibly affected the team and as Alfold pushed players forward in the final quarter the game became a little scrappy. But Bexhill comfortably saw out the final 15 without any scares, the defence finally marshalled by the excellent Pat Kennedy and SCFL player of the match Delwin Duah.

Crowhurst with the cup / Picture: Joe Knight

Finally, after eight minutes of injury time the final whistle came and there were huge celebrations for the young Pirates and a well-deserved victory over an excellent Alfold team. Inspirational skipper Aaron Cook picked up the Champion of Champions trophy to add to the league title, an historic FA Youth cup run, and a record of over two years unbeaten in the league.

It is an incredible achievement at any level and huge credit must go to every member of this young squad and the coaching team.

The hard work has already begun for next season and any dedicated and committed players wishing to be involved with the u18s and u23s for next season should contact the club for further details.

LITTLE COMMON

Little Common under-15s lifted the Rother League trophy after an impressive season, winning 11 and drawing one of their 12 matches. The club wish to thank manager Terry White and coach Lewis Parsons for their hard work with the team.

* Battle Town lifted their second trophy of the season during a week in which Crowhurst also secured silverware.

East Sussex Football League Premier champions Battle made it a double by winning the ESFL Graham Ormston Premier Travel Chauffeurs Challenge Cup.

But they were pushed all the way by SC Pass+Move Arrows in last Tuesday night’s final at The Pilot Field, home of Hastings United FC, before prevailing 5-4 after extra-time.

Strikes by Glen Carrick, Ollie Jeffs, Trystan Mayhew, Shaun Utting and Tyler Mole gave Battle the edge over Division One side Pass+Move, whose goals were scored by Frazer Discala, Philip Hatch, Joshua Paige and Jonjo Wright.

Not content with that, Battle duly booked their place in the National Christian Cup final courtesy of a 4-1 victory at home to AFC Hope in Saturday’s semi-final.

Carrick bagged a brace, and Paul Weatherby and Mayhew also found the net as Battle came from behind to see off their Coventry-based opponents - and keep alive their bid for a treble.

The two-time National Christian Cup winners will face St John’s Bowling Eagles from Bradford in the final, which will be played at a venue and on a date to be announced later this month.

Having narrowly missed out on the league title to Battle, Crowhurst ended the campaign on a high by winning the Hastings & District FA Intermediate Challenge Cup.

Dominic Clarke’s double, and one each from Jan Bailey and Wes Tate ensured the Crows ran out 4-1 winners against Bexhill Town in last Friday night’s final. Olwethu Peterson netted for Town - who finished fifth in the Premier Division - in a match also played at The Pilot Field.

A cute turn and shot in off the post from Clarke put the Crows 1-0 up late in the first half.

Bexhill started the second half putting the Crows under immediate pressure, so manager Brett Moore made two changes, bringing on Tom Frazer-Bates and Jordan Slater for Stephen Greenfield and Luke Woodley.

The Crows got back into their stride and a passage of forward play found Slater on the right wing. He chipped the ball into the area where Bailey rose above the Bexhill defence to head home from close range to make it 2-0 and start a mass celebration in the Crows dugout.

Bailey then turned provider when he hit a delightful pass and found Clarke inside the area. He took the ball down and smashed it past the despairing dive of the keeper to make it three. To their credit Bexhill did not give up and continued to press for a goal and they were rewarded when a shot from the right side of the area took a deflection past Sean Hankinson to make it 3-1.

Moore made his final change taking off Allan McMinigal and bringing on Oliver Vidler, who immediately put Bexhill on the back foot with his direct

running and trickery with the ball.

Late in the game a one-two between Tate and Clarke in the box found Tate in space and he hit his shot high into the Bexhill goal to seal the victory for the Crows.

The man of the match award went to Ben Hollingsworth, who was immense at the heart of defence all evening alongside Ash Kidman.

Crowhurst said a massive thank you to all the supporters who came along to support them. And they thanked their sponsors Ashdown Hurrey Chartered Accountants, 1066 logos Print and Embroidery Ltd and Excel Roofing & Cladding Ltd.

It’s been a fantastic end of the season for Crowhurst, picking up three pieces of silverware and narrowly missing out on a fourth. It’s been a tremendous effort from everyone at the club.

On the same night at this final, Welcroft Park Rangers were edged out 4-3 by Polegate Town II in the Eastbourne FA Vice Presidents Cup final at The Saffrons, home of Eastbourne Town FC.

Two Jamie Bundy goals and one from Bill Coles weren’t quite enough for Division Three outfit Welcroft against opposition from Mid Sussex League Division Three South.

Battle’s national final aside, the 2021-22 season has now come to an end for East Sussex League clubs.

And there’s relief all round that the campaign reached a successful conclusion after the previous two terms were curtailed by Covid.

It was a season to savour for AFC Hollington, who scooped three trophies, while Battle, Rye Town and Crowhurst II all picked up two, although Battle could still add to their tally of course.

And there was county cup glory for the league as The JC Tackleway, from Division One, claimed the Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup.

After the summer break, the 2022-23 season will kick off in early September.