Bishop Luffa Girls kick-started their season with a 3-0 win in the Sussex FA Cup over Seaford Head on Friday 19th November. A professional team performance from back to front led to a thoroughly deserved win for Luffa’s ladies. Hosting our first cup game in years, Seaford Head were welcomed to Westgate with a combative and disciplined performance determined to delight any football coach.
The game kicked off with Seaford Head on the ball, but very quickly Luffa were into the opposition and gave them no quarter for the remainder of the match. In the first half Luffa’s back four, comprised of the very physical Evie Owen (10Andrewes), Tilly Sparrow (9King) and Hannah Robinson (10Burrows) who suffocated the Seaford forwards in the centre and Myah Brent (9Sherborne), who didn’t put a foot wrong all game, were exemplary in keeping the Seaford attack blunted, with the visitors not able to muster a single shot on target in the first half, ably covered by Eleanor Maunder (8Story) at half back, Luffa were able to push numbers forward when they were on the ball, and the midfield and strike force combined to punish Seaford on the 20 minute mark. Seaford’s two towering centre backs worked to keep Emma Mayor (9Sherborne) quiet (who had scored a sublime goal just three days earlier for the school). However, this allowed more space for the roaming central midfielders in Lilly Proctor-Heather (9King) and Izzy Stuart (9Ridgeway) who combined to give Izzy the space to play a superbly weighted ball through to Isla Southward (8King). Isla beat the onrushing Seaford goalkeeper to the ball and, with great composure, prodded the ball into the far corner of the net to give Luffa a lead that they thoroughly deserved.
Seaford responded by keeping the ball far better for the remainder of the first half, but Luffa stayed stalwart with the midfield and defenders working as a complete unit. Myah, arguably Luffa’s most improved player over the past 2 years, kept the right-hand side secured whilst Evie bullied Seaford’s winger as she marshalled the left. Anything that got past them was tidied up by Tilly and the imperious Hannah. Luffa survived the rally, and should have doubled their lead when Connie Hobbs (9King) hit the post with a fierce effort from range, only for the ball to fall to Isla Southward who, against all odds, missed the open goal from a metre out. Fortunately, this was not to be Isla’s legacy.
Second half began at 1-0 Luffa, a slight tweak as Lilly asked to switch to half back and Eleanor moved further forwards. A move that paid instant dividends as a lovely team goal saw Connie, Lilly and Hannah work the ball forwards to Eleanor who, from a tight angle, slammed the ball in to give Luffa a two goal lead; one that was thoroughly deserved, and a goal that rewarded Eleanor for an excellent all-round performance.
Gracie Mumby (8Story) came on for Emma to provide some pace up front and quickly caused the giants at the heart of Seaford’s defence major issues. With time running out, Seaford started to ask Luffa some far more pressing questions, but still, the back line stood strong. Finally showing some aggression, Luffa started to really get under the visitors’ skins with some excellent use of game management and keeping possession when needed. Late on the Seaford goalkeeper, who was excellent throughout, made excellent saves to deny Isla, Gracie and Connie from adding to the scoreline. However, with barely a minute left to play, an almighty scramble in the box led to Gracie knocking the ball into the path of Isla to atone for her miss and fire the ball into the far corner, killing the contest off and providing Luffa with a memorable 3-0 win, and more importantly, an outstanding team performance. Late cameos from Mary Pitts (9Sherborne) and Anna Stangroom (9Ridgeway) allowed Luffa to see the game out without further incident.
That left the extremely difficult choice for player of the match, and the three adults asked gave three different answers. Manager Mr Hood chose Isla Southward for her resilience her two goals; Coach Ellie Hughes chose Eleanor Maunder for her omnipresent display; whereas when the referee was asked he chose Hannah Robinson for providing an impenetrable wall for Seaford. Legitimately, though, every player was excellent in the job they did for the team, and if this performance ends up being the benchmark, Luffa could be a force to be reckoned with.
Mr J Hood, Bishop Luffa Girls Football Manager