Horsham Women’s first chance of lifting silverware and joining the men’s team by celebrating cup success this season was not to be after they went down 4-1 to all-conquering Saltdean at Sussex FA’s Lancing HQ yesterday evening. Steve McGrane’s side gave it everything they had, even taking an early lead, but The Salts clinically capitalised on moments of defensive uncertainty to win the tie and add the Sussex County Women & Girls League Cup to the Challenge Trophy and league title already won during this historic campaign.

In front of an enthusiastic crowd both teams came out of the blocks fast, passing and probing each other and looking for weaknesses to exploit. But it was Horsham who drew first blood when Georgia Bowen smashed a 25 yarder in off the underside of the crossbar for a stunning opening goal, worthy of the occasion.

Saltdean gradually grew into the game and began creating the better chances, their passing was crisp as they zipped the ball around the pitch before pouncing on a mistake to level the scores. You sensed the champions would push on and add to their advantage but, instead, it was the Hornets who went close to restoring their lead when only a fine save kept Fliss Love at bay.

However, it was Saltdean who struck next to take a 2-1 lead into the break, a rather harsh reflection of the first forty-five minutes. But whatever was said in the Salts dressing room at the break clearly did the trick as their relentless second half pressure saw them secure two further goals, again disappointingly aided by rather charitable defending, to deservedly lift their third trophy of the season.

Despite the eventual one-sided look to the scoreline, this was a cracking game and a monumental effort from both teams which excited the fans and one in which the Horsham players emerged with great credit. Runners-up in the cup and third in the league has been an epic first campaign for this hardworking team which, with a few additional signings in the summer, could make the Hornets a force to be reckoned with next season.

Reflecting on the match, McGrane said, “We’re obviously disappointed with the result, but what a fantastic advert for women’s football at tier 7! The game had it all, unfortunately for us the stars didn’t align but I couldn’t be prouder of the team and what they’ve achieved this season. There are so many positives to take forward and build upon for next season.

“Now its time to take a break, to reflect, and prepare to come back stronger and better next season. But I would like to make a special mention to the Horsham fans, the mascots, Howie and the caterpillar who were absolutely fantastic and made it such a memorable occasion”.

Match report by Kevin Gargini
Image courtesy of Saltdean United

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