The curtain comes down on a truly memorable 2023/24 campaign for Horsham Football Club tomorrow when our Women take on Saltdean United Development Squad in the final of the Sussex County Women & Girls Football League Challenge Cup writes Kevin Gargini.

Sussex FA’s Lancing headquarters is the venue for arguably the biggest match in the history of Horsham Women’s football, where victory would top off an excellent debut campaign for Steve McGrane’s side who were only put together last summer. In a league that includes more seasoned clubs like Shoreham, Pagham and Eastbourne Town, the Hornets ended the campaign in an impressive 3rd place with eight wins from their fourteen league matches, finishing just two points behind runners-up Eastbourne Borough.

With the Men’s side overcoming Hastings United in the final of the Sussex Transport Senior Cup, our U18s lifting the Southern Combination Youth Football League Cup last weekend at the expense of Bognor Regis Town, and the U12s, U13s and U14s all crowned champions of their respective divisions, McGrane’s squad has the opportunity to add to the trophy cabinet and put the perfect seal on an historic season.

“It has been such a great first season for us and one that we can all look back on with an enormous sense of pride and satisfaction” the manager said. “The girls are excited and motivated, and they should be, as we want to go one step further and create history. All the players are enjoying playing together and have the belief they will be successful and are looking forward to the opportunity to get some silverware”.

However, they face a powerhouse of an opponent who will, themselves, be looking to pull off a triple success having dropped just three points all campaign to win the league at a canter, adding the title to the SCWGFL Challenge Trophy they secured back in March with a 9-1 demolition of Eastbourne Town.

With an incredible ninety goals in all competitions, and a strong defence that has been breached just sixteen times in eighteen matches, Saltdean present a powerful barrier to the Hornets’ hopes of ending the season with silverware but McGrane’s side can take encouragement from their two league meetings in which they have run their South Coast opponents hard.

A Karen Bridgewater own goal and a 25 yard ‘wonder goal’ helped The Salts to a 3-1 success at the CWCS back in October, with substitute Imogen Flint bagging Horsham’s consolation goal, while an understrength Hornets side made the return journey in January and battled well, only to come out on the wrong side of a couple of contentious decisions before going down 3-0.

There should be no such selection issues for McGrane this weekend, however, as he has a full squad to choose from and with both teams having had a lengthy break from competitive football, it will be interesting to see which side adapts to the occasion the better.

How they reached the final:

2nd Round
Newhaven Ladies Development 0 Horsham 5
Saltdean v Mile Oak – walkover for Saltdean

3rd Round
Worthing Town 0 Horsham 5
Eastbourne Borough 1 Saltdean 4

Horsham 3 Shoreham 1
Pagham Ladies 4 Saltdean 7

The match kicks off at 5pm, hot food and hot and cold drinks will be available, and admission is FREE OF CHARGE, so why not get yourself down to Culver Road and show your support for our exciting young Women’s side.

The club is running a coach to the match at a subsidised fare of £12, departing from the Park & Ride at 2:45pm sharp, and anyone wishing to take advantage of this door-to-door service should click HERE

Those making their own way to Culver Road by car are requested to use one of the many public car parks in the town as stadium parking is restricted to players and club/match officials only.

Stadium address:
Culver Road
West Sussex
BN15 9AX

Nearest rail station: Lancing (4 minute walk)

Nearest car parks: click HERE

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