Julie Abson’s lightning reactions gained Hailsham Ladies 1s victory over Mid Sussex 1s in the Sussex Plate, after a full-time score-line of 1-1 left the game to be decided on penalty flicks.
Mid Sussex started with push-back, but a bold interception by Susie Smith soon saw Hailsham piling the pressure on Middie’s defence. The first of many Hailsham penalty corners was awarded on eight minutes, but the strike by Alison Headey was deflected wide by defence.
Sue Cable nearly opened scoring minutes later, chasing a loose ball into the Middie’s D, but the keeper just beat her to the ball. It wasn’t all one-way traffic, and Mid Sussex were dangerous on the attack, winning penalty corners themselves which Hailsham defenders did well to clear. The Hailsham supporters had a heart-stopping moment when two Middies’ players cleared the defence and ran at pace at the Hailsham goal, but Julie Abson dived and deflected the ball away from the ball-carrier with her stick just as she got into striking distance. Eventually after 30 minutes of end-to-end play, Headey found the back-board with Hailsham’s tenth penalty corner to put the team into the lead at half time. The second half started at similar pace with neither side being able to finish attack with goal.
A second goal went in for Hailsham but was disallowed as the ball was struck too high into the goal from a penalty corner.
A penalty corner for Mid-Sussex five minutes later saw the scores levelled as they overwhelmed the Hailsham defence. Despite some excellent mid-field play from Lyndsey Horne and player of the match Sarah Haird, Hailsham struggled to mount any further serious attack, and so the game ended 1-1. This left the result to be decided on penalty flicks, with each team having five flicks and the most scored winning. With Abson saving faultlessly, flicks from Smith, Michelle Page and Midge James were enough to secure the victory, with rapturous cheering from the Hailsham supporters as James’ goal was lifted high past the keeper into the net.
In sight of Lewes castle, on the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes, Hailsham Ladies triumphed in their own Battle of Lewes!