Lewes hope to make their return count
The final of the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup is due to take place on Thursday 22 March between Crawley Wasps and Lewes.
Crawley Wasps vs. Lewes
Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final
Date: Thursday 22 March 2018
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
Lewes have been absent from the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup for five season’s as they made the decision to focus on maintaining their domestic league position in the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Premier Division.
The club have lifted the prestigious cup twice in the competitions twenty-four year history and that was in the 2008/9 and 2010/11 seasons. In the 2008/9 season they beat Brighton and Hove Albion 4-2 on penalties and in the 2010/11 season they put two goals past Chichester City Ladies. This year the club decided they were in a good position to return to the competition and manager John Donoghue said: “We haven’t entered the cup for many years as the club wanted to focus on maintaining a good league position.
“This year we have been lucky enough to add more players to our squad so that gave us the opportunity to play more games.”
John Donoghue took charge of the Rookettes ahead of the 2013/14 campaign and has a wealth of experience within top level football. His previous roles include being the Brighton and Hove Albion Women’s first team manager, managing the boy’s academy at AFC Bournemouth and coaching at Southampton Football Club.
Lewes are having a fantastic season to date, currently sitting fourth in their league and with eight games to go they have three more points than their entire 2016/17 campaign
Donoghue is very proud of his team‘s efforts after making club history by meeting Everton Women in the 5th round of the Women’s FA Cup; despite crashing out of the competition with a 6-0 loss.
The team also progressed to the semi-final of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup, which they were denied a place in the final after suffering a 4-2 defeat to Leicester City Women.
The club have strengthened significantly on and off the pitch and last July made a real statement by announcing that it has become the first professional/ semi-professional club to pay it’s women and men’s teams the same, as part of their Equality FC campaign: “It has highlighted the fact that we are prepared to do equal pay for both teams because believe that there should be a level playing field for women in football,” Donoghue said.
Not only have Lewes made substantial changes off the pitch, but they have now turned their focus on improving aspects on the pitch by submitting an application to compete in the second tier of the women’s football pyramid, the FA Women’s Championship (currently FA Women’s Super League 2), and if successful will compete in this league from the 2018/19 season.
Despite this being just Donoghue’s second cup final, (after winning the FA Women’s Premier League Plate Final against Huddersfield last season), he insists that the occasion is all about the players and volunteers of the club: “Although it is an achievement for me personally, finals are about the players and volunteers.
“The players are really excited about playing in the county cup final under the lights in front of hopefully a big crowd.
“It is an excellent occasion for everyone at the club.”
Although Lewes compete two leagues above their opposition Crawley Wasps, the Rookettes boss holds the utmost respect for them and admits that Thursday will not be an easy encounter: “Crawley have several players who used to play for us.
“I am not going into the final thinking that we are two leagues above them, I believe we will be playing a team with a lot of experience at our level and players that are used to winning.
“I think it is going to be a very close and competitive game,” he said.
The Rookettes route to the final consisted of beating Bexhill United Ladies with an impressive 15-0 victory and a 4-1 win against Brighton and Hove Albion development.
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 Women’s Challenge Cup, please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547