AFC Ringmer II lifted the MSFL Tester Challenge Cup on Tues evening following a hard fought battle with division nine rivals Cuckfield Rangers III at The Beacon, Hassocks. AFC Ringmer striker Stu Porter scoring deep into extra time to secure a maiden trophy in the second team’s debut season.
Ringmer started the game on the back foot, a direct and energetic style of play from Cuckfield saw them dominate the opening exchanges before AFC manager Jamie Brinkhurst switched from a 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 allowing man of the match Sam Strutt to influence proceedings from a central, rather than wide midfield role. The change in formation saw a more fluid style of play from Ringmer with full backs Alex Weller and James Warren now able to link with the front three of Louis Pirie, Dale Tranter and Charlie Conrath. On the stroke of half time a harsh handball was awarded against the industrious Isaac Leckie, and the resulting free kick was glanced in at the back post by Cuckfield’s central defender Laine Eaton to make the score 1-0 at the break.
Ringmer equalised immediately from the restart in near identical circumstances, Freddie Wade delivered a deft free kick, which was met by Sam Strutt who finished calmly under considerable pressure. Having secured an equaliser, Ringmer retained the ascendency but were caught as Cuckfield’s Michael Neatherway latched onto a speculative ball, finishing coolly past Matt Cramp. With the clock ticking, Brinkhurst made a double substitution introducing Theo Whiting and Andy Cramp, the latter having an immediate impact. A loose ball was collected in midfield by Cramp, whose fresh legs carried him beyond a flat Ranger’s back four before finishing emphatically from 20 yards drawing the sides level.
Both sides appeared content to play for extra time, and later for penalties as fatigue set in, however a final twist saw Ringmer substitute Stu Porter steady himself for a late corner from which he scored directly. Porter delivered the set piece with such pace and swerve that it evaded the near post defender, nestling into the back of the net to be met with jubilant celebrations. With five minutes left to play the impetus was on Cuckfield to push for an equaliser, this onslaught was met with staunch resistance from the dominant Mark Hutchings, Theo Whiting and composed defensive qualities of Max Olliver who continued to twart Cuckfield’s advances until the final whistle.
AFC Ringmer II now refocus their intentions on the league, knowing that three wins will be enough to secure promotion to division eight alongside Ridgewood.