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Sussex and Essex shared the spoils in an entertaining draw on the artificial surface at Lancing FC as Kim Coster’s side earned their second draw of the Southern Counties Cup Competition.
Essex had led by two goals going into the final 15 minutes, but the home side pulled level through Lillian Tucker and Bianca Pilgrim after Georgia Box, Abigail Fry and Courtney Clarke had put the visitors in the ascendancy. Rachel Woods cancelled out Box’s initial opener early in the second half.
The away side started brightly, but the first real chance fell to Sussex’s Ariana Fleishman who lobbed a shot just wide. Shortly afterwards, Charley Boswell’s run and shot brought a fine save from Essex goalkeeper, Robyn Strauss.
As Essex carved out openings, Sussex stopper Leah Samian made two fine saves to keep out long-range efforts from Essex duo Sophie Vale and Lindsey Morgan. A dipping shot from Morgan was well held by Samian before another dipping, deflected effort from Clarke dropped just over the top.
From the resulting Morgan corner, the ball fell to Box, who turned and fired in from six yards. Moments later, and on the stroke of half time, Sussex’s Nicole Webley was played through on goal but was denied by a good stop from Strauss.
Shortly beyond the restart, Sussex were level. Essex debutant substitute ‘keeper Grace Staunton was beaten by a rifled Woods shot. Staunton made a good stop moments later to push over Naomi Robinson’s effort over the bar but, on 61 minutes, Essex were back ahead. A right-wing cross was turned in by Fry.
The away side went 3-1 ahead on 70 minutes as Clarke slipped in-between a defender and ‘keeper Nina Wilson to slot in. Sussex gave themselves a lifeline six minutes later. Tucker fired in from 15 yards and, with 80 played, Tucker again made it 3-3 when Pilgrim’s exquisite, long-range shot dropped just beneath the crossbar.
Essex stopper Staunton then made an impressive, point-blank intervention to deny Pilgrim and a late slip in the visitors’ defence let in Tucker, who shot just over under pressure as the game finished with six goals shared.
Essex: Robyn Strauss (Billericay Town), Niamh Gamble (Writtle), Charlotte Bryant (Writtle), Miagh Downey (Ipswich Town), Abigail Fry (Writtle), Courtney Lumley (Billericay Town), Sophie Vale (Writtle), Lindsey Morgan (Billericay Town), Georgia Box (Billericay Town), Hayley Piggott (Billericay Town), Courtney Clarke (Writtle). Substitutes (repeated): Grace Staunton (Barking Abbey), Chelsea Hinz (Billericay Town), Yasmin Cowley (Barking Abbey).
Sussex: Leah Samian (Worthing), Sarah Killick-Bird (Oakwood), Michelle Ward (Crawley Wasps), Rachel Woods (Brighton & Hove Albion), Holly Walker (Crawley Wasps), Charley Boswell (Portsmouth), Ariana Fleischman (Crawley Wasps), Nicole Webley (Worthing United), Jade Elphick (Crawley Wasps), Naomi Robinson (Worthing), Lillian Tucker (Bexhill United). Substitutes (repeated): Catherine Hyland (Eastbourne Town), Nina Wilson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Bianca Pilgrim (AFC Varndeanians), Molly Kemp (Bexhill United).
Referee: Paddy O’Reilly (Worthing).
Assistant Referees: Paul Barratt (Midhurst) and Dave Huggett (Petworth).