Unicorn edge past Fatboys to lift Sunday Trophy
Unicorn United came from behind to take the spoils in extra-time as they beat Hassocks Fatboys in the Sussex Sunday Challenge Trophy Final, sponsored by Luke & Luke Construction, at Culver Road on Sunday evening.
The match started slowly but halfway through the first-half the deadlock was broken by Hassocks Fatboys midfielder Jack Lewis. The sides were drawn level on the hour mark after Matt Porter pounced on a stray ball in the box, and the winner was reserved for the second-period of extra-time where Harry Abrahams guided the ball into the bottom corner.
The game started very cagey between the two sides, neither team wanted to give away possession. Both sides were attempting to find that penetrating through ball, Hassocks striker Jordan Walsh was asking questions of the Unicorn defence but it seemed they had the answers for him.
A two minute flurry should’ve seen Hassocks take the lead as early as the twelfth minute. A great run from Walsh put him one-on-one with the Unicorn goalkeeper Luke Munt but he put too much on his square ball to teammate Stuart Brown and his effort from a tight angle was blocked on the line by Joseph Matthews.
Just moments later Walsh was back in the thick of the action as he stretched out a leg to meet Rob Lloyd’s cross and the ball looped over the onrushing Munt but unfortunately for the striker it struck the foot of the far post
The first goal of the match came after a Dave Keane cross was cleared to the edge of the area where Fatboys Jack Lewis was waiting and his half-volley made its way through the crowd and into the bottom corner past the unsighted Munt.
Hassocks kept the pressure on trying to get that second goal. Full-back Lloyd created some space for himself after some net play but his his scorching pile driver just dipped over the cross bar. The half-time whistle couldn’t come soon enough for Unicorn.
The second-half started with the electric tempo that the first ended with, as both sides tried to find that decisive second goal.
A deep corner was played into the Hassocks box and Unicorn United defender Porter leaped tremendously to guide the ball towards the top corner but Hassocks substitute goalkeeper Stuart Robinson dived across his goal to make the save and keep his side in front.
From the resulting corner Unicorn got their equaliser, and it was that man again Porter. The corner was played short to Matthews and his low cross into the box was met with a precise volley into the bottom corner by Porter. Sixty minutes gone and the game was now set up for someone to step up and find a winner.
Unicorn fancied themselves after equalising and almost took the lead immediately after Danny Passingham was played through but Hassocks keeper Robinson rushed off his line and spread himself well to deflect the ball off target.
Once again Unicorn knocked on the door but that man Robinson between the posts was there to deny them. Another corner into the box was flicked on by Abraham and met by the head of Sam Clarke inside the six-yard-box, but despite his header looking destined for the goal it was somehow clawed away by the Fatboys keeper despite the ball looking to be behind him. A save any England number one would’ve been proud of.
Unicorn once again tried to force the issue as Passingham hit a low shot through a crowd of bodies in the box but it bounced off the post and away in what was the last chance to win the game in the ninety minutes.
The first-half of extra-time started slowly, both sides looked jaded and the spark just wasn’t there. Goalkeeper Stuart Robinson was kept busy by those Unicorn forwards and he needed to pull off another cracking save after Passingham glanced a header towards goal, and a routine stop to deny a Joe Haskell free-kick.
The second-half of extra-time was more eventful, with the winning goal coming midway through the half as a deep corner into the box was prodded clear to the edge of the box and there was Unicorn’s dominant centre-back Abraham to guide the ball through a number of Fatboys player and into the bottom corner. The game was well and truly turned on its head.
As the time whisked away Hassocks threw their all into getting an equaliser, defender Jon Ballantyne came closest as his dipping and swerving strike towards the far corner was pushed away by the diving Unicorn goalkeeper Munt.
The last chance for Hassocks came from a free-kick which saw goalkeeper Robinson venture into the opposition’s penalty box desperate for a route back into the game. In his attempts to meet the ball in he tussled with Abraham giving away a free-kick and then received a straight red card after an altercation.
With Hassocks down to ten men, Unicorn were able to hold on for the final few seconds and were crowned the Sussex Sunday Challenge Trophy, sponsored by Luke & Luke Construction, winners.
Discussing the victory after the game, Unicorn United manager Dennis Barclay said: “They came out all guns blazing and could’ve been two nil up in the first quarter-of-an-hour, at half-time we had a little heart-to-heart, swapped our formation to four at the back to match their 4-3-3.”
He added: “I’ve been manager for this team now for six years and they just don’t know how to lose, we won the league and we’re in another cup final in a couple of weeks, we just don’t know how to lose!”
(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 Your Instant Replay)
Stats: (Unicorn United-Hassocks Fatboys)
Goals: 2-1; Shots: 11-10; Shots-on-target: 5-6; Corners: 10-4; Fouls: 13-12; Offside: 3-4; Yellow Cards: 3-2; Red Cards: 0-1.
Unicorn United: Munt, Simmonds, Spencer, Miller ©, Abraham, Porter, Matthew, Clarke, Hope, Barclay, Nixon.
Subs: Hill, Timlick, Wickenden, Passingham, Haskell.
Hassocks Fatboys: McCarthy, Llyod, Britton, Lewis, Turner, John, A. Brown ©, Devonish, Walsh, Keane, S. Brown.
Subs: Thwaites, Robinson, Ballantyne, Humphrey, Linehan.
Match report by Pulo Makaula