NEWHAVEN won their first piece of silverware for 18 years by securing the Sussex County Brighton Marquees Intermediate Cup Final with a hard fought 1-0 win over local rivals Saltdean United.
A Matt Den Heijer own goal in first half stoppage time was enough for Newhaven to seal the victory, at SCFA’s Culver Road headquarters at Lancing FC on Tuesday night.
Newhaven made two changes from the team that had thumped Clymping 6-0 on Saturday.
Daniel Murray returned at right back in place of Jason Goddard, while Mark Probert replaced Kerry Mayo in the midfield three after both were rested on Saturday, Mayo unavailable due to work commitments. Aaron Blackwell, meanwhile, replaced the cup-tied Jordan Cole on the bench in what was otherwise an unchanged squad.
A minute’s applause preceded the game in memory of the extremely popular 19-year-old Peacehaven player Connor Saunders, who tragically died on Sunday morning.
Newhaven were playing against the strong wind in the first half and, after a tight first 10 minutes, were gifted the perfect opportunity to open the scoring. A short back pass from Saltdean’s Stuart Clarke was pounced on by Dockers’ top scorer Tyler Goatcher, Goatcher rounded Tigers’ Owen Fisher in goal but saw his weak shot cleared off the line by Aaron Redman.
It was a glorious opportunity and one Newhaven hoped they wouldn’t rue at the end of the night.
Newhaven were presented with another chance to take the lead when some good interplay between Luke Duchossoy and Murray saw a pass into the box for the arriving Probert, whose touch took him past the defender and was brought down in the process. Referee Mark Jackson pointed to the spot after a flag from the assistant and Murray confidently placed the ball on the spot.
But, despite sending Fisher the wrong way, he also cleared the crossbar by some distance.
It was another chance that should have been taken, that again Newhaven were hoping would not come back to haunt them.
It almost turned out to be very costly, Saltdean thought they had taken the lead after a free kick from the left was swung in by Bryan O’Toole; Dan Smith bundled it into the net only for it to be ruled out by the assistant referee for offside.
Docker’s keeper Graham Leach was hurt in the process and required lengthy treatment before he could resume.
Incredibly, the keeper later revealed on Twitter that he had suffered a fracture to his shoulder in the incident, despite managing to continue and play the whole 90 minutes of Tuesday night’s final.
Newhaven did finally take the lead right on half time.
A corner into the box by Goatcher was headed on by Probert but was heading well wide; Duchossy did well to keep the ball in play and keep it away from goal towards the touchline.
Robinson was the first to react to the ball and, after cutting inside, delivered an inch-perfect ball into the box, which Matt Den Heijer could only divert past Fisher to give Newhaven the lead. It was a deserved lead and, with Dockers playing into the wind in the second half, one that would prove vital
Saltdean came out for the second half fired up, an increased tempo about their play showing they weren’t going to go down without a fight. But their attacks were dealt with by the Dockers defence, led superbly by skipper Barry Knight.
Saltdean were first to make changes, Lee Slade made way for Dean Loader, quickly followed by Ebou Jallow replacing Aaron Redman.
Newhaven boss Paul Harrison, meanwhile, made just one change, an enforced one, Jason Goddard replacing Dave Altendorrf. Goddard moved to right back with Murray moving into midfield.
The changes almost paid dividends for Saltdean, with Jallow finding himself with space in the box, but he could only place his shot wide. It was Saltdean’s best chance of the match so far.
Robinson went close for Newhaven when he saw his cross-cum-shot evade Fisher, but not Clarke who headed away off the line.
With time running out, Saltdean threw more men forward in search of an equaliser, but were again denied by the Dockers defence.
The fourth official signalled there would be a minimum of four minutes additional time, and there was still time for one more chance – a clearance up field was held up by Robinson; he found Goatcher, and, after wriggling away from the defender, he could only run it into the arms of Fisher.
Newhaven soaked up another minute of Saltdean pressure before the referee finally blew his whistle to give Newhaven their first trophy since a 4-0 RUR Cup Final win over Pagham 18 years ago.