The final of the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-12s) is due to take place on Sunday 18 March 2018 between East Grinstead Meads and Oakwood.
East Grinstead Meads vs. Oakwood - POSTPONED
Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (under-12s)
Date: Sunday 18 March 2018
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
This year marks the introduction of the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup Final (under-12s) and the finalists are no strangers to each other having met three times already this season in their league.
The first fixture finished 5-4 to East Grinstead Meads, the second match resulted in Oakwood taking away the three points after winning 5-3 and the most recent encounter two weeks ago finished goalless.
East Grinstead Meads manager Andy Smyth, who is in his second season as manager believes that Sunday could go either way against opponents Oakwood: “Every game we have played against Oakwood it has been very close, we have won one, lost one and drawn one. You just wouldn’t be able to call it.”
Smyth manages the squad with assistant Bonnie Kilkenny and his daughter Emma who is slightly too old to be eligible to play for the age category and so carries out coaching duties.
Despite being last year’s Sussex County Women and Girls Football League (under-11) champions and the 2016/17 and 2017/18 futsal winners, Smyth stresses how important it is for the club to reach the final.
“It is a big deal reaching the final because we are a small club who have not been part of a County Cup final before.
“It’s definitely our biggest achievement and not just for the club, but for the town because we have been trying to establish girls football for the last couple of years and that’s why we formed East Grinstead Meads.”
East Grinstead are also coached externally by Mike Gardner who runs a girl’s football programme within local schools, as well as establishing his own academy ‘MG Soccer’ and Smyth expressed how thankful the club are for all his help.
The Meads follow the motto ‘Goals win games, but nutmegs make us happy’ which emphasises the importance of developing their players skills. Smyth said: “We like to win but we are more interested in developing our players and teaching them how to keep possession and play proper football.
Two years ago Oakwood girls returned to their original home of Tinsley Lane after being affiliated as Crawley Town Girls for five years and since re-joining under Oakwood, Nick Rudge, father of one of the players took charge of running the team.
Rudge’s team are yet to experience an occasion such as a cup final: “We finished third in the league last year and this season we are sitting top, it is a really big occasion for the girls because they have not experienced anything like this.
“They are a little nervous but very excited at the same time and once they get out on the pitch I am sure they will be fine.
“Reaching this cup final means everything. It will be a great day for everyone, but for me personally as the coach and as a parent, I could not be more proud of the girls because they have all been working so hard and knuckling down at training,” he added.
Rudge is fully aware of the talent East Grinstead have and like Smyth knows that Sunday will not have any shortage of end-to-end action: “East Grinstead won the league last year, they are a great outfit and they are our toughest opponents, so anything could happen.”
Despite cruising through the rounds leading up to the final knocking out Newhaven, Cuckfield Cosmos and Worthing Town, Rudge insists it wasn’t an easy task.
“The cup run was tough; the score lines were pretty flattering to us in all honesty. Especially the last game against Worthing, although it was a 3-0 win, it was a really tight game and could have gone either way.”
The Oak’s have earnt their place in the final without having any substitutes and so Rudge is hoping his daughter Nicole, who has unfortunately been suffering with appendicitis makes the final, otherwise they will be facing East Grinstead a player short.
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 Girls Challenge Cup (under-12s), please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547