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Sussex Proballer Intermediate Challenge Cup

Sussex Proballer Intermediate Challenge Cup Final Preview

Rustington vs. Eastbourne Rangers

The final of the Sussex Proballer Intermediate Challenge Cup - in memory of Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt is due to take place on Tuesday 24 April 2018 between Rustington and Eastbourne Rangers

Rustington vs. Eastbourne Rangers
Sussex Proballer Intermediate Challenge Cup Final - in memory of Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt
Date: Tuesday 24 April 2018 
Kick-off: 7:15pm 
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

Tuesday evening see’s two ambitious team’s face each other with one aim in mind and that is to lift the prestigious County Cup. Both teams have been flying high this season and therefore the final simply cannot be predicted.

It’s been quite a journey for Rustington who are on the up after what appeared to be a difficult season last year. The West Sussex side compete in the Southern Combination Football League Division 2 and have clear aspirations of gaining some silverware this season. Manager, Jon Tucker said: “Although we set goals, we didn’t really get off to the season with a great start and we didn’t think we were going to be where we are now. 

“To be in the biggest cup for us possible is a huge achievement and we never expected the success, but the players have worked hard.”

Tucker who is in his second stint in charge of the team insists that the improvement is not down to him: “When I returned around eighteen months ago the boys were bottom of the league and hadn’t won a game at all and now they are sitting top of the league with the hope of getting promoted.

“The success has nothing to do with me; it’s all down to the players. We managed to bring a few players in at the start of the season which has been really important. It’s a fantastic club on and off the pitch and I immensely enjoy being part of it,” he said.

Due to the poor weather conditions this winter, Tucker’s side have a number of games to play in a short period of time and before Tuesday’s final, they will be required to play five games in eleven days, which include a league semi-final against Siddlesham. Despite having to play catch up, the Blues manager believes that his side are in a great position:

“We have to play lots of games but we have a strong squad. I would rather be in this situation where we have lots to play for than nothing to play for at this stage of the season.

“We want to win the league and the two cup finals and it’s an old cliché but every game we are treating as a cup final.”

The Rustington boss will not be taking Tuesday night lightly and although they have never met with their opposition, he knows that they will be a strong outfit: “It is a game that we are not going to be fearful of and we are looking forward to the challenge.

“They are going to be extremely strong, they have knocked out a few county league sides and I am sure it is going to be a great final. 

“But if the boys play to their potential then we have got every chance of winning the game.”

The Blues front man, Steve Kirkham is one to watch Tuesday evening, with the title of top goal scorer in his league having scored twenty eight goals and Tucker explains how important he is to the team: “He is a great lad to have about on and off the pitch. 

“He just knows where the net is and his work rate is fantastic and he is part of the reason why we have won games.

“He has made a big difference this season, last season we were lacking a goal scorer, so we are really glad we managed to sign him although he got lots of offers from other clubs.”

Eastbourne Rangers established in 2009 and so are a relatively new club who will be celebrating their tenth year anniversary next season. This is the first county cup final that the club have reached and it is a proud achievement for the club founders Marc McKay and Nick Stevenson.

Marc McKay started out as a player for the club who then became a player-manager before transitioning into the first team manager in the 2015/16 season and making his first final as a manager is a special achievement for him: “Reaching this final is massive, I love building this club and knowing that we are one of the last two teams out of sixty-six is a real big thing for us.”

Eastbourne sit top of the Mid Sussex Football League Championship Division and like their opponents are hoping to get their hands on some silverware. Marc McKay said: “We aspire to be in the Mid Sussex Premier, we have beaten teams from that league this season and in this cup - I know that’s where we belong.”

Despite playing against a team who are technically two divisions above them, Eastbourne Rangers are feeling optimistic going into the final: “We will give it our best shot; we are definitely in for a chance. 

“It’s 50/50, whoever plays better on the day will be victorious basically. We respect Rustington, they are top of their league for a reason, and they are going to be a tough side.

The East Sussex side train and play all their home games on a 3G artificial pitch and McKay is hoping that it will give his players an upper hand as they battle it out against Rustington on Culver Road’s 3G pitch: “We are used to playing on 3G pitches and we play really good football on the surface, so we are excited to see what we can do Tuesday night under the lights at Sussex County FA,” McKay said.

Eastbourne will be not taking anything for granted in the final, and McKay is hoping that his top goal scorer, Josh Harris, who has netted twenty four times in nineteen games will recover from a chest infection and play a part in the occasion: “Josh has been crucial for us, he gives us an extra dimension up front and is very good at hitting the target -since signing him he has played a big part in how far we have come this season.”

“It would be a shame if he couldn’t play, but I have a strong side who are more than capable of competing against players of a higher standard.”

Entry prices for the final are as follows:
£5.00 Adult (17+)
£3.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)

For further details about the Sussex Proballer Intermediate Challenge Cup please contact Competitions:

Competitions
T: 01903 753547
E: Competitions@SussexFA.com