Our first West Sussex League round-up of the new season features wins for Bosham and Ambassadors but a first-day defeat for Chapel.
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Cowfold 1 Bosham 3
West Sussex League premier division
BOSHAM’S new West Sussex League season got off to a winning start.
Their campaign began with an intriguing visit to Cowfold’s Bolney Road ground. This was a repeat of the match that opened last season’s campaign with an exciting stalemate - and this game was no less dramatic.
It began at a frenetic pace with both sides looking to establish control and Cowfold were first to have a crack at goal. Gary Babon found himself in space approaching the Robins area and unleashed a low drive which rapped the hands of keeper Simon Hasted, who made a good low save.
Bosham began to find their feet and started to creep closer to the Blues’ box and chances came as Cowfold’s defence began to creak under the pressure.
It may have taken 20 minutes to come but the first chance Bosham created was a close one - Nick Edgington’s effort was narrowly over after a corner from Graeme Dowden.
Just after the half-hour, the Reds went even closer when Dowden put Billy Huntley through and the striker brought a superb saving tackle out of Simon Pike to divert the ball for a corner.
The teams reached the interval goalless but the second half produced fireworks.
Just minutes after the break, James Wilson had an excellent chance for the Reds but could only scuff his effort wide from yards out - leaving his team-mates frustrated at the near-miss.
However the deadlock was broken just eight minutes into the half when Huntley grabbed his first goal of the new campaign, poking in from a scramble in the box to edge the Robins in front.
The lead was shortlived - a few minutes later, Cowfold were on level terms when Nigel Smith stroked home a hotly-disputed penalty, sending Hasted the wrong way.
The game had become a lot more expansive so gaps were appearing at the back for both teams.
Bosham re-took the lead thanks to a moment that Beck will want to forget in a hurry. Rushing to attempt a clearance, the keeper completely missed the ball and could do nothing to prevent it from crossing the line for a somewhat bizarre own goal.
Bosham went in search of a goal to seal the points and in the final minute, Joe Hancock took advantage of another sloppy moment from the Cowfold defence to nod home into an empty net to give the Reds a two-goal lead.
Bosham could celebrate all three points to give manager Tony Hancock the perfect start to the new season.
BOSHAM: Hasted, Probee, Maitland, Edgington, Jack Hancock, Giambelardini, Docherty, Wilson, Joe Hancock, Huntley, Dowden. Subs: Hartley, Nineham, Mullen.
Lancing Utd 4 Ambassadors 5
Division three south
Ambassadors chalked up three points on the opening day of the league season thanks to a terrific second-half comeback.
The game saw the unveiling of a new purple kit for the Rose Green-based visitors, but there was little to cheer for the first 50 minutes.
Lancing found themselves two up early on and a bizarre own goal saw the hosts lead 3-0. After an attack had seemingly broken down, Ambassadors’ keeper Crabb cleared straight against the hapless centre-half, with the ball ricocheting into the net.
Gaffer Ian Gwenlan galvanised the team by focusing on the positives of a new formation. The words seemed hollow as Lancing’s striker completed his hat-trick.
The 4-0 scoreline was harsh on the ‘Viola’ but they picked themselves up and responded with a goal of their own - and lone striker Paul Cotton’s first of he season was to prove a catalyst.
When Paul Cotton was put through by Greg Ockwell, his pass was slotted home by younger brother Dave.
Hard work by Luke Partridge allowed Ambassadors to push further up the pitch. A third for Ambassadors and second from Cotton set up a grandstand finish.
Chances went begging for the visitors but man of the match Cotton’s fine run and rifled finish beat the keeper.
With eight minutes left, the visitors had the momentum and when Collins loitered in the box after a corner, the ball fell kindly and his skewed shot bounced through a forest of legs and nestled into the back of the net.
Lancing could not find a response and their striker was sent off.
Fittleworth Res 5 Chapel 1
Division five central
Holiday and work commitments left Chapel without a number of key players but they had the better of a goalless first half.
Fittleworth came out strongly after the interval and two goals near the hour mark put them on top, but it was a disputed third after 80 minutes that knocked the heart out of the visitors, who were left with ten men through injury.
Two more goals followed but there was still time for Chapel to rally with a late Ben Mariner goal.