Lewes retain Youth Cup with late winner
Lewes sealed a successful defence of their Sussex Bluefin Dennis Probee Youth Cup (Under-18s) crown after Harrison Parker’s late winner in an evenly fought final at Culver Road on Thursday evening.
With extra-time looming and nothing between the sides, it had looked increasingly like events would be settled either through a mistake or a moment of magic and so it proved. Parker plundered the latter three minutes from the end to finally break the elusive deadlock and send Dale Hurley’s young Rooks soaring to the first leg of a potential league and cup double - a feat they have never achieved before.
Having won last season’s corresponding showpiece against Whitehawk on penalties, Lewes again left it late to eventually prevail from a largely cagey contest that remained on a knife edge throughout. Parker latched on to substitute Callum Jenkins free-kick, spun his marker and curled beyond the otherwise impressive Neil Di Luca in the 87th minute.
In a clash of vastly contrasting styles that pitted Lewes’ neat pass and move mantra against the Hillians physical and robust raison d’etre, clear cut openings were at a proverbial premium. Lewes boss Hurley said: “One down one to go, as great as it is to win this again the league is our bread and butter. It is the title we really want, we’re top of the table on goal difference so we must win the last game.
“We knew the challenge that Burgess Hill would give us, a good, physically strong and well organised side with a very good group of players. All credit to them but I felt we were the better side although it looked like we’d have to do it in extra-time which you never really want to do.
“Harrison loves a cup final goal, he’s been brilliant for us and gets forward well, he’s vital to how we play so it was fitting that he got the winner.”
Dane Tasker - hero of last year’s shootout win over the Hawks - saved well from Hillians Harrison Faulkner, Charlie Broad flashed an effort over the bar before Di Luca was called into action for the first time. Mitchell Hewens cut inside and fired towards goal but the Hillians stopper got down well and pushed the effort out.
Di Luca was undoubtedly the busier of the two keepers and came to his side’s aid again shortly beyond the half hour mark. A well-worked short corner routine saw Ross Barclay link up with Dylan Gifford, and the latter’s dipping drive was tipped over by the keeper.
Toby Potter-Drake stabbed wide at the other end and the impressive Jay Popham tried his luck from distance. Rooks then had a penalty appeal turned down after Gifford had again linked up with Barclay. Barclay ran through and went down under the attentions of an advancing Di Luca, but referee Barry Myers was unmoved.
Leone Gravata went close for Lewes, having dispossessed Kieran Dimelow, he burst clear and fired across goal as the match drifted towards a denouement. It appeared as though an additional 30 minutes would be needed to separate the sand wedge between the sides, but Lewes and Parker had other ideas.
(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: (Burgess Hill Town-Lewes)
Goals: 0-1; Shots: 6-10; Shots-on-target: 2-3; Fouls: 7-6; Corners: 0-5; Offside: 1-0; Yellow cards: 1-1; Red cards: 0-0.
Burgess Hill Town: Di Luca, Dimelow, Harper, Tuck, Blackmore, Faulkner, Fowler, Hall, Potter-Drake, Broad, Hagger.
Subs: Webster, Niner, Duncan, Hudson, Radley-Smith.
Lewes: Tasker, Pittock, Allen, Sa Castro, Parker, Freeman, Barclay, Gravata, Popham, Gifford, Hewens.
Subs: Sandell, Headland, Jenkins, Honore, Staley.
Match report by Jamie Spoor