Title race hotting up as Baptists close gap

Bexhill AAC on the ball against Sedlescombe Rangers. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Bexhill AAC on the ball against Sedlescombe Rangers. Pictures by Simon Newstead

The race for the Macron East Sussex Football League title looks set for a fascinating conclusion.

Second-placed Battle Baptists narrowed the gap to Premier Division leaders Hollington United to seven points with a 3-0 win at home to Old Hastonians.

Bexhill AAC midfielder Darren Witham keeps a close eye on a Sedlescombe Rangers opponent.

Bexhill AAC midfielder Darren Witham keeps a close eye on a Sedlescombe Rangers opponent.

Dale Vinall, Yordan Yordanov and Dean Boyd were on target for the Baptists, who have won their last eight league matches and still have three games in hand on Hollington.

Elsewhere, the top flight’s bottom side, Rock-a-Nore, claimed their first league win of the season with a 2-0 victory at Eastbourne Rangers. The Rocks are now just three points adrift of second-bottom Westfield II.

Robertsbridge United moved into the top half on the back of a 2-1 win away to St Leonards Social. Daniel Goodsell and Joshua Macnab scored for Robertsbridge, with Andy Garman getting the St Leonards goal.

In Division One, Bexhill Town’s proud unbeaten league record was finally ended by a 5-2 loss to neighbours Little Common II.

The Sedlescombe Rangers left-back blocks the path of a Bexhill AAC opponent.

The Sedlescombe Rangers left-back blocks the path of a Bexhill AAC opponent.

Zack McEniry (2), Daniel Tewkesbury, Connor Chilton and Russell Eldridge were on target for Common, who led 3-0 at half time. Town responded through Regan Smith and Shae Whyborne.

The result means Common have jumped above Bexhill into the top three, albeit having played five more matches, and leaders Rye Town need only three points from their final two fixtures to clinch the title.

Second-placed Crowhurst were held to a 2-2 draw at home to a Northiam 75 side which is now certain to avoid the bottom two. Karl Tomlin and Jonathan Rich-Spice scored for Crowhurst, but goals from Daniel Garcia Cruz and Aydin Jones gave Northiam a share of the points.

Mountfield United climbed off the bottom as their resurgence continued with a 3-3 draw at home to Wadhurst United. Kieran Tincombe, James Mitchell and Harry Bateman netted for Wadhurst.

A Sedlescombe Rangers player assesses his options against Bexhill AAC.

A Sedlescombe Rangers player assesses his options against Bexhill AAC.

Mountfield are above Icklesham Casuals on goal difference, albeit having played an extra match, and a point or better in their final fixture of the season away to Bexhill this coming Saturday would lift them above third-bottom Herstmonceux, who have already finished.

Hastings Rangers kept their Division Two title hopes very much alive via a 3-0 win away to fourth-placed Mayfield. Joe Harmer and Danny Turner found the net for Rangers before Terry Smith completed the scoring.

The result moved Rangers up to second place and within two points of leaders Bexhill AAC. Both teams have two games remaining and they will face each other in a potential title decider on Saturday.

Peche Hill Select look set for a top half finish after Tony Rhodes scored the only goal in their 1-0 success against Ticehurst.

Bexhill AAC defender Andy Atkin brings the ball away from a Sedlescombe Rangers opponent.

Bexhill AAC defender Andy Atkin brings the ball away from a Sedlescombe Rangers opponent.

Anthony Atkin scored four goals for St Leonards Social II in their 5-0 defeat of Burwash, who remain in the bottom two on goal difference. John Walker also found the net.

Hollington United II went top of Division Three following a 5-0 win at Catsfield in which five different players got on the scoresheet.

Goals from Sean Ray, Michael Hollands, Joe Murray, Graham Stovell and Kelvin Lowes put Hollington top on goal difference having played a game less than second-placed Bexhill Rovers. Hollington need four points from their remaining two matches to make sure of top spot.

Third-bottom Sedlescombe Rangers II ensured they will avoid the bottom two by beating fourth-bottom Pebsham Sibex 1-0. Gavin Moffat Bailey’s goal means that Orington will finish second-bottom and Hailsham Athletico bottom.

In the only Division Four fixture played, Hawkhurst United II edged out Bexhill AAC II 3-2 to move into the top half. Goals from Daniel Morgan and Scott Oliver were not quite enough for Bexhill as Cameron Clark, Marco Palumbo and Tyler Charles won it for Hawkhurst.

Second-placed The JC Tackleway II received a walkover as opponents Mayfield II were unable to field a team. Three points in their final fixture away to Parkfield on Saturday would secure the runners-up spot for Tackleway.

The two games in Division Five produced just the one goal, but it was at least a spectacular one. A Sam Cawkill free kick from the halfway line gave Northiam 75 II a 1-0 win against Bexhill Spartans, who remain second-bottom and four points above the basement.

Battle Baptists III missed the chance to climb into the top four as they fought out a goalless draw with Sedlescombe Rangers III.

Hollington United are through to the final of the Hastings & District FA Intermediate Cup after a narrow 1-0 win at Sidley United.

A Grant Cornelius goal settled the all-Premier Division semi-final in favour of Hollington, who will play Old Hastonians in the final.

Division Four club Magham Down reached the Hastings & District FA Lower Divisions Cup final courtesy of a 4-1 success away to Division Five side Icklesham Casuals II.

Mason Maddox scored for the hosts, but goals from Jamie Bundy, Sam Hover, Glen Purcill and Darren Weller won it for Magham.

In the other half of the draw, Wittersham II set up a semi-final meeting with Sandhurst by virtue of a 3-0 win against Bexhill Broncos. Goals from Billy Blackford, Tom Barlow and Jonjo Andrews settled a quarter-final clash between the top two in Division Five.

The final of the Robertsbridge Charity Intermediate Cup will be between Rye Town and Bexhill AAC after both sides overcame Premier Division opposition.

Division One leaders Rye, who the previous weekend reached the Hastings & District FA Junior Cup final, edged out Hawkhurst United by a Charlie Stevens goal to nil.

Division Two top dogs Bexhill AAC are into their fourth final in two seasons after upsetting Sedlescombe Rangers 4-1. Wayne Easter, Matthew Brolly, Darren Witham and Ashley Carey found the net for the victors, with Sedlescombe responding through Matthew Noonan.

Cranbrook Town, who are third in Division Five, booked their place in the Robertsbridge Charity Junior Cup final by winning 3-1 away to Division Four club Sandhurst.

Jamie Crouch scored for Sandhurst, but goals from Shane Norman, Ben Cooper and Lee Elliott gave Cranbrook the spoils.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make this website your homepage

2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex

3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!