All our local sides in Sussex County League Division 1 got off to losing starts on Saturday.
Hailsham opened the league season with a 3-1 home defeat to 10-man Lingfield – although the result doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Stringers more than matched their opponents but were beaten by a hat-trick from former Brighton & Hove Albion legend Nicky Forster.
His first goal came against the run of play in the 40th minute. And his and Lingfield’s second didn’t come until the 87th, when his looping header went in off the post.
A 90th minute Steve Dallaway goal – a powerful effort from the edge of the box – at least gave Hailsham some late hope, but Forster rounded off his hat-trick moments later when a home side pushing up in the search of an equaliser found themselves caught on the counter attack.
If having ex-Albion, Hull and Reading striker Forster in their ranks wasn’t enoughh, Lingfield, who saw a man sent off for a foul on Patrick Johnson, also had former Premier League star Jamie Lawrence in their line-up. Jamaican International Lawrence played in the top flight for Leicester City and Bradford City.
Hailsham now travel to Dorking Wanderers on Tuesday for another league fixture.
Rimgmer went down 4-0 away to Lancing, with the hosts’ goals coming from ex-Blue Dom Shepheard (4 mins), Owen Callaghan (26), Charlie Romain (88) and Alex Howell (90+2).
The Blues now travel to Horsham YMCA on Tuesday for their second league fixture.
Newhaven’s first game back in County League division 1 for a number of years also ended in defeat when they went down 3-1 away to Worthing United.
The Dockers actually led early on to a seventh-minute Mark Probert goal, but the hosts, reprieved from relegation despite finishing bottom of division 1 last season, bounced back to win with goals coming from Grant Philpott (28 mins), Ryan Bradley (55) and Titus Paterson (60).
Newhaven play again on Wednesday when they host Rye United at Fort Road in the league.
However, there was a positive result in division 2 at least when Seaford Town superbly came from three goals down to earn themselves a point at Haywards Heath Town.
Seaford were 2-0 down at the break thanks to an own goal and a Kieron Purkis effort, both scored within a minute of each other and before the first quarter-hour was out.
A second Purkis goal two minutes into the second half seemed to have sealed all three points for the hosts – but a sensational comeback from Seaford saw them snatch a draw.
First, Stef Richardson-Webster pulled one back on 52 minutes, before Matt Hayward made it 3-2 on 65 minutes. Then a minute after that, Russell Ayliffe ensured Town would return to East Sussex with a share of the spoils.
But Saltdean United’s 5-0 home defeat to Loxwood meant Seaford’s heroics was the only bright note amongst the local teams. The Tigers went down to goals from Tom Lyons (25 mins), Tim Martin (63), Shaun Findlay (75) and Dean Wright (50, 84).
Saltdean now host Rustington in the first round of the John O’Hara Cup on Tuesday night.