How Broadbridge Heath won promotion to Isthmian League – and Horsham YMCA scooped Under-23 Cup

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AFC Varndeanians 0 Broadbirdge Heath 2

SCFL premier

Heath were crowned champions after doing more than they needed and winning at AFC Varndeanians.

Broadbridge Heath - SCFL premier title winners | Picture: Chris GregoryBroadbridge Heath - SCFL premier title winners | Picture: Chris Gregory
Broadbridge Heath - SCFL premier title winners | Picture: Chris Gregory

They knew a point would be enough to see them lift the title for the very first time. Having already exceeded expectations by winning more matches, gaining more points, losing fewer games and finishing higher than ever in the club’s history, here they went one further and won promotion.

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The sun came out on a warm afternoon at the Withdean Stadium. The pitch wasn’t quiet as good as normal with athletics events taking a toll on the normal flat surface, something the Bears had to deal with for many years at their old ground in Broadbridge Heath.

Louis Evans was first to have a shot at goal on seven minutes when he struck a left-foot shot from long distance which bounced just in front of the keeper and flew up off his chest before he gathered.

Five minutes later Charlie Weller floated a free-kick from the left towards the far post – it came off a retreating defender’s head and was brilliantly saved on the line by the Varndeanians keeper.

Horsham YMCA under-23s with the cup | Picture: Beth ChapmanHorsham YMCA under-23s with the cup | Picture: Beth Chapman
Horsham YMCA under-23s with the cup | Picture: Beth Chapman

On the half hour another Heath corner resulted in a scramble with the ball being cleared off the line by a defender, Heath players’ claims it had crossed the line were waved away.

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Before the break a long throw from Ryan Brackpool was headed goalwards to Bradley Peters, who drilled it home from close range for his fifth of the season.

In the second half the Bears had a lot of possession and shots but didn’t really trouble the home keeper... until the legend Jamie Taylor came off the bench.

It’s almost 25 years since Taylor first made his appearance for the senior club but the quality remains, and having received a long ball down the left from Brackpool, the striker cut inside and hit a right-foot curling shot between two defenders and wide of the keeper into top corner, a fitting strike to end the season.

The Horsham YMCA cup winners | Picture: Beth ChapmanThe Horsham YMCA cup winners | Picture: Beth Chapman
The Horsham YMCA cup winners | Picture: Beth Chapman

At the final whistle the celebrations began as league chairman Steve Nealgrove presented skipper Brackpool and club captain Andy Waddingham with the Trophy.

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Promotion to the Isthmian League for the first time is a fantastic achievement by all involved: the committee, the volunteers, the officials, the management, the players and of course the supporters, with the club saying thank you for coming along every week to cheer the team on to victory.

Horsham YMCA 3 East Grinstead 2

Sussex U23 Cup final

Spectators braving cold, wet evening weather at Sussex FA’s Lancing HQ were treated to an entertaining final.

And they saw Horsham YMCA’s young team battle back from a first half deficit to clinch a memorable victory, seeing off big, fast and strong counterparts from Isthmian League club East Grinstead

After early skirmishes, EG were awarded a disputed penalty, rocketed into the top corner by Harvey Burgess.

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YM were fortunate to equalise when a back pass eluded keeper Ollie Cash.

Then with YM’s Mark Fox well out of his goal, Burgess burst through to convert, the score remaining 2-1 to EG at the break after Fox denied Darmando Lawrence.

In the second half Cash dropped the ball, Tom Hearn firing just wide, ahead of Nathan Kanga’s barge giving YM a penalty, slotted home by Luke Harrison to equalise.

Ten minutes later YM went in front, a superb corner from captain Zac Massey curling in to cross the line. YM’s Luke Roberts hit the side netting and challenged again.

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An EG header bounced off the bar, but YM defended stoutly to become the first side to win the U23 Cup twice.

Ecstatic YM U23 manager Graham Shergold told the County Times: “At half-time the boys’ heads were down, but we assured them they were still very much in the game, and told them to go out and enjoy it with commitment.

"They put in a brilliant second half display, making me very proud of our young players. They just need to realise how good they are, and a big win like this should convince them of that.”

Horsham YMCA 1 Lingfield 0

SCFL premier

Horsham YMCA rounded off the season with a home win against Lingfield, celebrating the retirement of club stalwart defender Dan Evans.

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He has played 425 games for YM, a very rare achievement at a time when players often move from club to club.

Evans notched 29 goals for YM, telling the County Times: “I’m still fit, but all the training, travelling and playing has become hard work, combined with a young family and early starts with my job. However, I really want to stay involved with football!”

Evans was in early action against Lingfield with an aerial attempt before YM keeper Aaron Jeal pulled off a diving save. Then YM captain Luke Harrison fired over.

The second half was marked by eight corners, five to YM, and composed YM forward Tom Tofrey swivelled and crashed in the only goal, YM successfully keeping Lingfield out late on.

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YM finished 12th, assistant manager Andy Howard saying: “It was good to finish with a clean sheet win. We had a great start to the campaign with six straight wins in league and cup, but we faded – before ending in much better form.

"We’ve some excellent homegrown players, who’ve gained useful experience. We’ll be looking to strengthen the squad for next season.”

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