White Hart win the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup – sponsored by Gardner & Scardifield, after a 1-0 victory over AFC Shoreham.
Ben Cove hopes his White Hart side can go on and complete a league and cup double after watching them beat AFC Shoreham in the final of the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup.
Ryan Walton’s 77th minute effort was all that could separate the sides in a closely fought cup tie, with AFC Shoreham being reduced to 10 men within two minutes of the second-half as Dan Rahaman was sent off for two bookable offences.
The match could have gone either way though, with both sides having chances to score. Sussex Sunday Premier Division side AFC Shoreham almost forced extra time though, as heroic defending from Paul Fleming prevented Tony Burnett’s low effort from hitting the back of the net in stoppage time.
Cove said after the 1-0 win: “Overall, I am obviously delighted with the win, and I hope we can take this into our league form and win the title.
“I did not think we were particularly great first half, possibly because the nerves of the occasion. They had a couple of good chances and I think we were lucky to go into the break on level terms to be honest as they were causing us a few problems. We had a re-think at half-time and came out with more confidence which ultimately made the difference.
“People will say the red card changed the match, but with the weather I think it didn’t make that much difference to the outcome. It did not have much of a bearing on the match as it could have in difference circumstances.”
The first-half produced little for either side in front of goal, with Jake Buss in the White Hart goal being the busier of the two keepers in the opening exchanges.
Jon Elliot forced the White Hart goalkeeper into a save, before Mark O’Regan found space on the left, before seeing his chipped effort turned over the bar by the back-tracking keeper.
AFC Shoreham forward O’Regan then should have given them the lead after 15 minutes, after running on to a ball through to go one on one with Buss, he couldn’t get his shot on target.
Walton looked to be causing the AFC Shoreham defence some difficulty, and almost broke the deadlock in some style after the half hour mark as his ambitious effort flew past the standing Matt Grimstone, but only to go narrowly wide of the top corner.
At the other end, some great defending from White Hart prevented them from falling behind as Dean Gilmour’s corner was spilled under pressure by Buss, and the loose ball fell to O’Regan but Adam Kneller
got in the way of his effort to clear from close range.
Sussex Sunday Premier Division leaders AFC Shoreham were then dealt a blow moments into the second- half, as Rahaman, after being booked on 44 minutes, lunged in recklessly and left referee Paul Rowland little choice but to send him off.
Despite that, it was AFC Shoreham who came close to going in front ten minutes later, as O’Regan beat the offside flag to go one on one with Buss, but the keeper did well to close the forward down and deflect his effort wide, with Dave MacNeil heading just over the bar from the resulting corner.
However, as the half wore on, Lewes & District Sunday League outfit White Hart were finding more openings and had the opportunity to take the lead after the hour when Walton picked up a loose ball, but after taking the ball away from the advancing Grimstone, a last ditch lunge from Kevin Bradburn kept the ball out.
The deadlock was however finally broken with 13 minutes of normal time remaining, as Fleming’s inviting cross from the right picked out Walton at the far post, who scrambled the ball past the diving Grimstone and the sliding Elliot on the line to find the net.
The White Hart forward, who has scored over 350 goals for the club, came close to sealing the win in the 90th minute when he led a counter attack, but fired narrowly wide before Simon Bailey evaded several challenges but his effort was saved by Grimstone.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, AFC Shoreham came within yards of forcing extra-time in the final minute of stoppage time when Jamie Stideford controlled a ball in from the left and found the feet of substitute Burnett, who from a tight angle steered the ball away from the advancing Buss but only for his goal bound effort to be hooked off the line by the lunging Fleming at the far post.
Stats: (White Hart - AFC Shoreham)
Shots: 8 - 8; Shots on Target: 5 - 5; Corners: 2 - 5; Fouls Committed: 16 - 12; Offside: 4 - 2.
White Hart (4-4-2): Buss; Fleming, Kneller, King © (Holman 84), Murray; Bailey, Page, Breach, Sowter (Knight 52); Bashford (Blackwell 90), Walton.
Subs not used: Harrison, Edwards (GK).
Red Cards: None.
AFC Shoreham (4-5-1): Grimstone; Rahaman, Elliot ©, Bradburn, Livesey; Joseph, MacNeil, Gilmour (Burnett 80), Wotherspoon (Stideford 75), Andrews (Steele 66); O’Regan. Subs not used: Geary, Di Paola.
Red Cards: Rahaman.