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Mile Oak win the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup

Oak prove too strong for Heath in Vets Cup Final

Haywards Heath Town 2 - 5 Mile Oak

Mile Oak won the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup after an entertaining 5-2 victory against Haywards Heath Town at Culver Road on Sunday.

Haywards Heath took an early lead, but the setback galvanised Mile Oak and they dominated proceedings from then on, going in 3-1 up at the break. Heath did pull a goal back in the second-half but they just couldn’t cope with their opponents as they ran out comfortable winners in the end. 

It took just three minutes for the deadlock to be broken, as Paul Foskett played in Stuart Harsant and he curled the ball around the diving Richard Whittington into the corner of the net clipping the post on its way in.

From then on however, Mile Oak controlled the match and drew level twenty minutes later. Tony Burnett slotted the ball through to his strike partner Paul Eaton and he kept his composure to lift the ball over the advancing Simon Shivnarain and in.

Moments later Eaton nearly put his side ahead, a lovely pass by skipper Steve Porter started the move, and Eaton cut inside his marker before unleashing a drive that deflected off Heath defender Steve Walker and inches wide of the post.

From the resulting corner, delivered by Martin Rowe, Porter rose highest to head at goal but Shivnarain got down well to his right to keep it out.

Just a minute later Mile Oak went ahead courtesy of a wonder goal from Graham Martin. The midfielder picked the ball up thirty yards out, drove forward, and unleashed an unstoppable drive, with the outside of his right boot, into the top corner via the inside of the post.

On the stroke of half-time Oak extended their lead through player/manager Burnett. The experienced centre forward coolly slid the ball past the onrushing Shivnarain to give his side a commanding lead.

Heath were much improved in the second period, and looked to be back in the game when Foskett raced onto an inventive chest pass from Ben Djamaluddin, to slot the ball past Whittington on the slide with fifty five minutes on the clock.

But, much like in the first-half, the goal spurred Mile Oak on and Shivnarain had to be at his best to deny first Eaton from point-blank range, and then substitute Clay Lamont at his near post. Sandwiched in-between those two saves Glen Reynolds also hit the post with a header for Oak.

Heath’s resilience was soon broken though as Martin slipped the ball into the lively Rowe and he found a way past Shivnarain to restore their two goal lead.

In added time the plucky Foskett nearly scored his second goal of the game for Haywards Heath, he met Paul Gurr’s cross firmly with his head but to his despair the ball cannoned back off the woodwork.

To compound Heath’s misery Lamont scored Mile Oaks fifth in the final minute, Stuart Garrod’s disguised ball inside found the striker and he held off the challenge from Ché Williams before sending Shivnarain the wrong way and rolling the ball into the net.

After the match Heath manager Williams wasn’t too despondent saying: “We knew Mile Oak were going to be a good team and they were the favourites going into this.

“All I could ask from my players was to go out there enjoy themselves, hassle them and I would be happy with that. 

“I always thought today we could steal a 3-2 or we could lose 6-0. In the end we were always a goal behind, and a lot of people thought we would get rolled over today so we can’t be too disappointed.”

Victorious Mile Oak manager Burnett said afterwards: “They gave us a tough game today. I think we let a bit of complacency slip into our game as we started both halves slowly, but we are all old so these things happen.

“It was a really good game; this is the prestigious cup to win and we’re all really very pleased with our work today!”

Mile Oak presented with the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup
HIGHLIGHTS - Haywards Heath Town Vs. Mile Oak
Watch highlights of Mile Oak's entertaining 5-2 victory against Haywards Heath Town in the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup Final.

(Photographs from the match can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights from the match can be found above and also on YouTube - courtesy of FilmMyMatch)

Stats: (Haywards Heath Town-Mile Oak)
Goals: 2-5; Shots: 7-30; Shots-on-target: 3-15; Corners: 4-13; Fouls: 1-7; Offside: 2-4; Yellow cards: 0-1; Red cards: 0-0.

Haywards Heath Town: Shivnarain, Williams, Church, Walker, Humphrey, Gosden, Elphick ©, Sayers, Djamaluddin, Harsant, Foskett.
Subs: Gurr, Brannigan, Cripps.

Mile Oak: R. Whittington, Mansell, Clarke, Martin, Reynolds, J. Lovett, Porter ©, Garrod, Burnett, Eaton, Rowe.
Subs: Lamont, Bradburn, B. Lovett, Tighe, A. Whittington.

Match report by Darren Ford