The final of the Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup (Under-18s) is due to take place on Thursday 12 April between Lewes and Whitehawk.
Lewes vs. Whitehawk
Sussex Bluefin Dennis Probee Youth Cup Final (Under-18s)
Date: Thursday 12 April 2018
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
This season’s Sussex Bluefin Probee Youth Cup Final has the ingredients to be a thrilling contest between two striving under-18s sides. The opponents have met twice already this season and have taken 3 points from each other after Lewes ran away with a narrow 3-2 victory and the second time around it finished 2-0 to Whitehawk.
Lewes manager Alex Walsh is in his third consecutive season in charge of the youth side and has prospects of winning the treble this year, with Whitehawk first up in that quest.
The Rooks sit top of the Bostik League South Youth table and are in strong contention of winning the league cup where they face Woking in the final.
This season The Rooks reached the second round proper of The FA Youth Cup and although they lost 3-1 away to Portsmouth, Walsh is very proud of how far his players have come this season: “It’s great to reach the Sussex Youth Cup Final and it’s good for the clubs profile.
“The first team are doing really well this season so it’s nice for the under-18s to match that as well.
“It gives the boys a good opportunity to play in front of lots of people and their friends and family - fingers crossed we can do it and go all the way.”
The majority of Walsh’s squad consist of under-16s or first years and he highlights that his job Thursday will be to ensure that his young side channel their nerves so that they can perform to their full potential: “They are excited, nearer to the game the nerves will kick in possibly but that’s my job to try and diffuse that so that it feels like just another game for them.”
Having played their opposition twice in the league this season, the ex-Brighton & Hove Albion academy coach knows that it will not be an easy task: “We know it will be a competitive game, we have a lot of respect for Whitehawk and I’m looking forward to the challenge to be honest with you.
“They know a lot about our game and we know a lot about theirs, they have got the experience of winning it last season which may help them a bit, but we are looking forward to take on the challenge.”
Whitehawk who sit second in the league with three games in hand are also looking to seal the title but manager Jude MacDonald feels that it is a big ask for his boys to win four games out of five.
MacDonald has experience of lifting this cup as a player back in 2006 with Eastbourne Town after beating neighbours Eastbourne Borough 2-0 and despite leading his side to being crowned champions in last season’s Sussex Bluefin Dennis Probee Youth Cup Final, he would love nothing more than a repeat of 2017’s victory.
“It’s massive to make the final again; we are so happy to make the cup final two years in a row.
“This team is going from strength to strength which is important as they are the players who will potentially be playing for the firsts in the future.
“It’s an enormous effort form the players,” he said.
MacDonald speaks very highly of his opposition and believes that his side are the under-dogs going into the final: “They are top of the league so you’d have to say that they are the favourites.
“I think it will be a great game, we are certainly the two best teams in Sussex at under-18s level and arguably have the two best squads within the South East region.”
The Hawks are the current cup holders after beating Newhaven 4-0 last year and nine of the players from the winning squad will feature in Thursdays show down: “We are quite fortunate because we have got some players who won the under-16s cup last season and some who were part of my squad last season when we beat Newhaven, but it’s whether they turn up on the night.
MacDonald will be missing a few keys players including Alfie Rogers, who is on holiday, Anesu Sisimayi who has recently moved to Worthing and Lewis Bond who is doubtful due to injury, but the Hawks gaffer stresses that it is a perfect opportunity for other players to step up and perform on the night.
Entry prices for the final are as follows:
£3.00 Adult (17+)
£2.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)
For further details about the Sussex Bluefin Dennis Probee Youth Cup (Under-18s), please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547