Eastbourne Borough Women suffered penalty heartbreak as they lost an entertaining Eastbourne FA Chairman’s Cup Final against Newhaven.

After ending 3-3 after ninety minutes, it was the Dockers who prevailed 4-2 in the shoot-out.

But credit must go to the Sports, who against the winners of the league showed how far they have come under Billy Wood – and on another day would’ve beaten them.

With virtually a full squad to choose from, the Sports made two changes from the semi-final win over Eastbourne Town. Claire Johnson and Becky Simmons came into the starting line-up, with Lola Dulake and Nicole Baitup lining up on the bench.

It was the Sports who had the first effort on goal in the tie, as Abbie Tucker did well to break down the right and her deflected shot looped kindly for Megan Griffiths, but she fired wide on the volley.

And Borough broke the deadlock just before the 15-minute mark. Griffths played the ball through to Charlotte Gurr down the left, and her low ball across goal went beyond Annie Hills and Simmons was in the right place to turn it home from close range.

Becky Simmons puts Borough in front
Becky Simmons puts Borough in front

It was nearly 2-0 moments later when Tucker drove down the right hand side, beat Hills but only to see her effort blocked by Jess Mead on the line.

Newhaven – London & South East Division One South champions – then grew into the game and went close when Lucy Collinson saw her effort on the turn go straight at Sophia Moule.

And the Dockers drew level with 26 minutes gone when Paige Ripley teed up Faye Hannaford and from the edge of the area her shot went beyond the diving Moule.

Borough looked to get back on the front foot, with Gurr having a shot saved by Hills, but Newhaven turned the tie around to lead on the half hour mark.

Captain Lauren Empringham got down the left hand side and her cross in picked out Katie Franks who headed away from Moule and into the far corner.

Possession changed hands frequently as both sides looked to get on top, and Borough had appeals for a penalty turned away for handball before Tucker fired wide from a tight angle before the break.

Newhaven had an early chance to extend their lead after half-time when Empringham ran down the left, but her low shot across goal was tipped away by the diving Moule.

Borough looked to get forward as they searched for an equaliser. Griffiths’ effort didn’t have enough on it to trouble Hills, before the Sports did get back on level terms on 65 minutes.

Baitup was given room to drive down the right hand side and her ball in eventually dropped to Izzy Payne, who saw her looping effort go beyond Hills and into the roof of the net.

Ripley then should have hit the target with the goal gaping at the other end after Franks beat Moule to a ball through, but with just eight minutes to go Borough go their noses in front.

Phoebe Cram did well to dribble into space inside the area and the ball broke to Gurr, who from twelve yards out dispatched it into the bottom corner.

Charlotte Gurr celebrates scoring
Charlotte Gurr celebrates scoring

However, the Sports couldn’t hold on and were pegged back again just two minutes later. A corner was helped onto the far post and Chloe Evans hooked the ball in from six yards.

There was one last chance though, and it fell to the Sports. Cram managed to run onto a ball through a congested penalty area, but Hills was off her line swiftly to save at the substitute’s feet.

That meant the final would come down to the lottery of penalties – but after both Kellie Larkin and Johnson missed, Newhaven were in the driving seat and made no mistake from their four kicks to lift the trophy.