Mile Oak Wanderers celebrating victory in Sussex Girls Challenge Cup Final

Mile Oak clinch Challenge Cup in thrilling final

Withdean Youth 0 - 1 Mile Oak Wanderers

Mile Oak Wanderers clinched the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-14s) with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Withdean Youth in Sunday’s final at Culver Road.

Shianna McAuliffe-Forbes’ early strike proved to be the only goal of the game, with Withdean failing to score despite being totally dominant throughout the contest, and Mile Oak refusing to let their slender lead slip.

The result is Mile Oak’s second triumph over Withdean Youth in as many weeks; Jake Godfrey’s side overcame their opponents 4-3 the week before in league action. 

The match, played at Sussex County FA headquarters in Lancing, began in typical cup final fashion, with both teams looking cagey in the opening minutes.

The first chance fell to Withdean early on when striker Blossom Campbell found herself in a one-on-one situation with Wanderers goalkeeper Mia King, but the latter came out on top, going low to snatch the ball from the feet of the attacker.

Mile Oak’s first opportunity after thirteen minutes fell to McAuliffe-Forbes, who darted through the defence to latch onto a hooked through ball, dispatching her shot past King into the bottom corner to net the eventual match-winner with style.

In response, Withdean began to create regular chances, with the powerful Campbell as the focal point of their attack.

The lively attacker came close to levelling the score line in the 20th minute when she tried to pick out the top corner with a curling effort from the edge of the area, but King was equal to it once again, pulling a fantastic save right out of the top drawer to protect Mile Oak’s lead and deny Campbell for a second time.

Five minutes later Mile Oak were presented with a rare chance to score when McAuliffe-Forbes once again picked up the ball in a dangerous area, but her shot struck the post after she was put under pressure by her marker.

Withdean’s dominance grew more prominent as the game went on, and nearly equalised on the stroke of half-time when Campbell picked out Ella Matthews with a lofted through ball, but her effort from the edge of the area whistled over the crossbar.

The second half picked up where the first half left off, with Withdean in total control despite the scoreline, and they should have drawn level within minutes of the restart; Mile Oak goalkeeper King spilled a corner inside the six-yard box, sparking a scramble in the penalty area, but no Withdean players were able to poke the ball home.

The one-way traffic continued right up until the final whistle, but Mile Oak held on miraculously to clinch the trophy for the first time in the club’s history.

Wanderers manager James Godfrey spoke of his delight after the final whistle: “I’m very, very happy, the girls worked so hard today, and we’ve worked hard all season to get to this point.

“I always had belief that the girls could do it. They’ve got it in them, got the battle in them, and I think they proved that today.”

Mile Oak Wanderers celebrate with the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-14s)
HIGHLIGHTS - Withdean Youth Vs. Mile Oak Wanderers
Watch highlights of Mile Oak Wanderers hard-fought 1-0 victory over Withdean Youth at Culver Road.

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and also on YouTube - courtesy of FilmMyMatch)

Stats: (Withdean Youth-Mile Oak Wanderers)
Goals: 0-1; Shots: 13-4; Shots-on-target: 5-3; Corners: 7-1; Fouls: 0-2; Yellow cards: 0-0; Red cards: 0-0.

Withdean Youth: Brooking, Bradford ©, Campbell, Matthews, Thomas, Vogel, Corbett, Felstead, Irvine.
Subs: Vaughan, Ward, Patchitt.

Mile Oak Wanderers: King, Collins, M. Thomas-Hancock ©, Angood, Luetchford, R. Thomas-Hancock, Trinidad, Burke, McAuliffe-Forbes.
Subs: Colombo, Sterry.

Match report by Archie Griggs