Sunday 25 March 2018
Arun & Chichester League Challenge Cup Final
@ Arundel FC
Horsham U12s 2 Bognor Regis Town Youth 2 (aet)
Horsham win 4-3 on pens

The young Hornets started the Challenge Cup final nervously, the occasion possibly playing a part, with passes not finding their intended target or players not closing down early and this was the case for the first fifteen minutes. On a heavy, cut up, pitch Horsham started to probe and when Frankie Mills got a long range shot on target, forcing the Bognor ‘keeper into a very smart low diving save, the yellows sprang in to life. A succession of corners kept eluding all players with Nathan Jones becoming entangled in the net after one such attempt to get a header to a far post cross. Bognor were patient, trying to catch Horsham on the break and as the half drew to a close we were outnumbered at the back but Danny White stood firm to break up another such attack. The half drew to a close at 0-0.

Horsham regrouped at the break, instructions passed out with some specific directives on passages of play. This worked as the young yellows started to find short, crisp passes to get in behind the Bognor back line. Horsham’s defence of Monty, Cameron and Danny stood firm, winning first balls, mopping up loose ones and calmly gathering the ball to rebuild from the back. The Hornets midfield worked tirelessly and, marshalled by Jack, the lads kept going. Denis and Finley down the wings were helped by Nathan and Theo. Stan was holding the ball up well at the front but we could not find the breakthrough. As the final whistle was drawing closer it was Bognor who got their noses in front, a good passage of play saw their winger cross from the right to find an unmarked player who slotted home for a 1-0 lead with six minutes left! This did nothing to upset the Hornets, though. Some changes were made and with minutes left on the clock a ball played forward found Raul Barter, who nodded the ball on to gain a yard from his marker and stab the ball under the on rushing Bognor’ keeper, into the back of the net. The score was now 1-1 and thoroughly deserved for this battling Horsham side. But the drama did not end there. With the final whistle seconds away, another Horsham corner found Jasper Butterfill on the far post but his header rattled the post! Late drama but the whistle came with the score at 1-1.

Extra time was now on the cards; the boys had a gathering and words of encouragement were handed out, with belief being the buzz word. The first period of extra time was the same as the rest of the match; well contested by two teams digging deep to find the opening that could prove to be the match winner. The first half drew to a close, boys were tired, niggling injuries started to show but they kept going as the second half started there was ten minutes to win this cup! With a few minutes on the clock, Horsham went ahead when a great corner from Raul found Nathan Jones who headed the ball home – 2-1 to the Hornets. The crowd and parents were noisy but the players remained calm. There was a good chunk of time to be played and this proved to be premature celebration as Bognor levelled with a fantastic free kick, over the wall and into the top corner to make it 2-2 with several minutes left. The nerves started to show on both sides, legs were heavy and it was Bognor’s turn to have the last piece of drama as they claimed a corner with seconds left, but it came to nothing as the final whistle blew – penalties to settle this wonderful cup spectacle!

Horsham gathered and further words of encouragement were dished out, the manager asked the boys who wanted to be the first five penalty takers and the lads were very professional in choosing the initial players. Bognor won the toss and opted to go first. Both teams scored their opening two penalties but then both teams did not score their third spot kicks! Both teams scored their fourth, making it 3-3, and it was now sudden death with one penalty each to take from the initial five. Bognor stepped and the Horsham keeper Monty produced a solid save, meaning that if Horsham score they win! Theo Brown, the stand-in skipper stepped up and he smashed the ball into the roof of the net to score the penalty that bought Horsham the silverware, 4-3 on penalties.

This was a football match that had everything; drama, counter drama, last minute gasps and a nerve wracking penalty shoot-out Football was definitely the winner!

An emotional Paul Brown was full of praise of what this young team had achieved “to have beaten the top two teams in our league, through this cup run, shows how far this squad have developed from our early season slumber. We worked hard in our training sessions and as we turned into the New Year I told the boys we would go on a run, They had to have belief in themselves, believe in what we were telling them, reassuring them that the “boring stuff” was important – they listened, they took it on board, they had the belief! To have the assistance of my coaches Ross and Alex is wonderful for me and the lads, bouncing ideas off them, getting them to question my thoughts, having their football knowledge at our disposal is more than any manager could ask for.

I want to praise the parents, guardians, grand-parents, family and friends and Horsham Committee members who came to watch. Your support and your vocal encouragement was an extra boost the boys needed to dig deep, and they did you proud. I want to thank our sponsors Dominos and Full House for their support through this season, into next, your team won the cup! Thank you to Horsham FC for your support in getting us started, we have a trophy to put in our new trophy cabinet!

Horsham: Monty Watson-Price, Cameron Cox , Danny White, Jack New (cpt), Raul Barter, Finley Duneclift, Theo Brown, Frankie Mills, Nathan Jones  Subs: Jasper Butterfill, Denis Light, Stan Berry

Scorers – Raul, Nathan
Penalties – Stan, Nathan, Frankie, Theo

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