AFC Littlehampton Ladies did themselves proud despite going down in a nine-goal thriller at Burgess Hill on Sunday.
Playing their first game of the season after winning promotion to the South East Counties League Division 1 West, they went down 5-4 on the road at the Hillians’ ladies.
It was totally against the run of play that the home team took an unexpected lead.
Despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Lani Smith’s, the Burgess Hill striker showed great composure to fire them ahead.
AFC Littlehampton delivered a great response but the crossbar, post and heroic defending saw them fail to draw level. To compound the frustration, a looping, speculative shot from Burgess Hill over Smith’s fingers to double the hosts’ advantage.
But AFC Littlehampton had a bit of luck to get level. A lovely floated Laura Holmes corner caused confusion in the six-yard box. Chloe Cairns was in the right place at the right time to score on her debut.
The second half mirrored the first 45 minutes with wave after wave of Littlehampton pressure.
Despite slipping 3-1 behind, it was time for Captain Steph Carter to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and drive her team forward.
Quick thinking from Carter spotted the Hill keeper off her line and she smashed a 30-yard free kick over despairing fingers to get the visitors back in the game.
However, this all appeared to be in vain as the home team scored again to restore their two-goal advantage.
The next turn of fortune came to Pippa Langridge. Showing great control in the box, Langridge turned and shot a rocket into top corner.
Another goal from captain Carter to, completing her brace, took the score to 5-4 with two minutes to go. With four strikers on the pitch the pressure on the Burgess Hill defence was relentless.
Becky Simmonds drove into the box, side-stepped a challenge and hit a shot that shaved the outside of the post to deny AFC Littlehampton what would have been a deserved a point.
But it was still an incredible performance from newly promoted Littlehampton, who can take pride from their efforts.
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