East Sussex League kicks off - and teams waste no time showing they mean business

After an absence of nearly six months, East Sussex Football League clubs finally returned to competitive action on Saturday.

Northiam 75 - pictured after cup success last year - were among ESFL teams back in league action last Saturday
Northiam 75 - pictured after cup success last year - were among ESFL teams back in league action last Saturday

The 2020/21 season kicked-off, on schedule, with 24 matches across the six divisions amid the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions which caused the 2019/20 campaign to be halted in mid-March and subsequently curtailed.

And there were plenty of goals as the strikers were quick to find their shooting boots despite the long period of inactivity.

The five Premier Division games produced a total of 28 goals, with Hawkhurst United and Northiam 75 both hitting a magnificent seven.

Sam Anderson claimed four of the goals as Hawkhurst triumphed 7-2 at home to Punnetts Town. Toby Lansdowne netted twice and Darren Nicol got the Hawks' other goal.

Northiam ran out 7-3 victors at home to Wadhurst United. Joe Maylam plundered a hat-trick for Northiam, Charlie Stevens bagged a brace, and Scott Embery and Adam Page chipped in with one apiece.

Battle Town - who led the table when the 2019/20 season was cut short - prevailed 4-0 at home to Crowhurst.

The goals of Jamie Lindsay, Mark Dowling, Joe Brister and Dean Boyd got Battle off to a winning start in their quest to finally land the title after four runners-up finishes in the last four completed campaigns.

Rock-a-Nore - the only new team in the top flight this season - got three points on the board straight away with a 2-0 success at home to Bexhill Town.

St Leonards Social edged out Robertsbridge United 2-1, making it a clean sweep of home wins in the top tier.

George Farrance (penalty) and Zac Olujobi were on target for Social.

The standout result in Division One was a 5-3 win for Bexhill AAC - who led the division last term when the pandemic struck - away to South Coast Athletico - who topped Division Two when 2019/20 was abandoned.

Ben Packer's brace, and one apiece from Ben Barton, Jacob Lee and David Pugh eventually earned AAC the points against an Athletico side which fought back from 3-0 down to level at 3-3 via the finishing of David Burch, Connor Smith and Tyler Smith.

Sedlescombe Rangers II, who like Athletico have come up from Division Two, pulled off a very good 2-1 victory at home to Battle Town II.

Lucas Zon's double gave Sedlescombe the edge over a Battle team whose goal was scored by Josh Reuter.

Kale Williams was among the scorers as The JC Tackleway began with three points and a clean sheet, winning 2-0 at home to Rye Town.

Newly-formed Sidley United II picked up a point from their opening encounter after drawing 2-2 away to Victoria Baptists.

The goals of James Bellett and Michael Payne for Victoria - another club which played in Division Two last term - were matched by David Chasumba's double for Sidley.

The four Division Two games produced 20 goals and the biggest winners were Westfield II, who triumphed 4-0 at home to Northiam 75 II.

Lee Paine was at the double and Andrew Wallbank grabbed one of the others.

Bexhill Rovers also hit the ground running, triumphing 5-2 at home to the newly-created Peche Hill Select II.

Iain Stewart-Pownall (2), James Jeffreys and Matt Simmons were among Rovers' scorers, while Kieren Martin and Asher Grindle replied for Peche Hill.

Little Common II - up from Division Three - made a strong start at the next level up by winning 2-1 away to SC Pass & Move.

Connor Jackson and Nickolas Kavanagh struck for Common, while Ross Williams was on the mark for Pass & Move.

Herstmonceux - down from Division One - and Catsfield picked up a point each following a 3-3 draw at Lime Park.

Rory Collins netted twice and Ade Fermin once for Herstmonceux.

Kent neighbours Hawkhurst United II and Sandhurst were quick out of the blocks in Division Three, both winning by five-goal margins away from home.

Hawkhurst ran out 6-1 victors away to Robertsbridge United II.

Louis Hazell and Morgan Todd hit the target twice each, and Thomas Allen and Thomas Gransbury also struck for the Hawks.

James Found (2), James Hsuan, Ben Cooper and Daniel Beechey were on the scoresheet as Sandhurst prevailed 5-0 against Hampden Park at Eastbourne Sports Park.

Bexhill AAC II triumphed 3-2 in a much closer contest at home to AFC Hollington.

Luke Dangerfield, Charlie Morgan and Dominic Sinden found the net for AAC against a Hollington outfit which won all of its Division Four matches last season.

The game between Hastings United Youth and The JC Tackleway II was postponed.

Hooe didn't drop a point in Division Five last term and started life in Division Four in the same dominant vein with an 8-1 victory at home to Parkfield.

Callum Holt-Burgess, Grant Wright and Aidan Pierce grabbed two goals each, while Rob Pierce and Luke Keagle completed Hooe's haul. Oliver Truman nabbed Parkfield's consolation.

Sovereign Saints II also started strongly, winning 4-0 at home to Welcroft Park Rangers. Ben Usher (2), Travis Anderson and Nicholas Barden were the men on the mark.

By contrast, there was only one goal between the sides in the fifth tier's other two contests.

Sedlescombe Rangers development triumphed 3-2 at home to Battle Town III, with Jake Warner and George Brooks among their scorers.

Strikes by Phil Badrock and Joe Fraser secured a 2-1 success for Icklesham Casuals away to Orington, whose goal was scored by Adam How.

Some emphatic victories were recorded in Division Five as 31 goals were scored in four fixtures.

West Hill United II were the biggest winners of all on the opening day in light of their 9-1 triumph at home to Welcroft Park Rangers II.

Frank Baden Hubbard helped himself to a hat-trick, Shaun Spurdens netted twice, while Eid Sheekh, Ethan Bilsby and Conor Loake all weighed in with one for a rampant West Hill.

Ticehurst were close behind in the scoring stakes, running out 8-2 winners at home to Herstmonceux II.

Jack Savage and Guy Ballard scored two apiece, and one each from Adam Brotherwood, Alex Cheeseman, George Brown and Billy Brightmore made up Ticehurst's tally.

Hastings Comets were also in free-scoring form as they prevailed 6-1 at home to league newcomers Hampden Park u23s.

Brandon Smith blasted a hat-trick, while Ryan Penny, Ben Tudor and Mason Mockridge also notched for the Comets. Vince Rembridge replied for Hampden Park.

It was honours even in the other game as AFC Hollington II and Wadhurst United II fought out a 2-2 draw.