Seagulls celebrate lifting the Sussex John Davey Cup

Seagulls swoop in shootout to seal the silverware

Seagulls 2 - 2 ASC Strikers (3 - 2 pens)

Seagulls won an enthralling encounter at Culver Road on Sunday evening, as they eventually emerged victorious in a penalty shootout against ASC Strikers to lift the Sussex John Davey Cup (Under-16s) sponsored by Premier Sports.

 The two sides came flying out of the blocks in a captivating first-half, Joshua Paine put the Strikers ahead early on, but they were soon pegged back as George Mitchell-Phillips struck for the Seagulls, and minutes later they turned the game on its head as Adam Ward smashed them ahead, only for Dylan Little to draw ASC level before the break.

The second-half and an additional twenty minutes of extra-time failed to separate the sides after that end-to-end first period, so we headed into a penalty shootout. The Strikers trailed throughout the spot kicks, and it was the unfortunate Sam Wright who saw his strike saved by Seagulls goalkeeper Theo Simpson that sealed the win and the silverware.

It took just two minutes for the deadlock to be broken, as Paine broke away from the Seagulls defence and after his initial shot was saved by Simpson, he reacted quickest to stab in the rebound.

Seagulls weren’t behind for long though, and drew level just over ten minutes later, a long ball over the top found Mitchell-Phillips on the edge of the area and he kept his cool to slot calmly into the corner past the advancing Joseph Robinson in the Strikers goal.

Five minutes later and the Seagulls were ahead. Tabani Pullen sent a cross in from the right that found its way to Ward at the back post, and he slammed the ball past Robinson from close range.

The Strikers didn’t panic after falling behind, and levelled before the half-hour mark. Mitch Hewens curled a ball in that was met by Paine forcing Simpson into a fine save, but Little was there to prod in the rebound and restore parity.

Into the second-half and chances were not quite so forthcoming, the Strikers nearly went ahead when a free-kick into the box presented an opportunity for Adam Cranfield, but he volley narrowly over the crossbar when well placed.

At the other end a Mitchell-Phillips header was expertly saved by Robinson but into the path of Pullen who somehow manged to loft the rebound over the crossbar from a yard out.

Charlie Goss also looked dangerous on a few occasions and Robinson had to be alert to deny him putting the Seagulls ahead.

The first-half of extra-time started almost as frantically as the beginning of the match, Luke Ellard bent a shot from the edge of the area towards the far post for ASC Strikers, but Simpson dived across his goal to make a fingertip save to deflect it around the post.

From the resulting corner Cranfield did everything right for the Strikers as he rose highest to meet the ball and head downwards, only for Simpson to fly across his goal and make the save.

Almost immediately Seagulls broke away and Ward cut inside and sent a curling effort that look destined for the the top corner but for the intervention of Robinson who flung himself across to claw the ball to safety.

Neither side wanted to lose the game in the second-period of added time, but yet both had golden opportunities to nick it, first Demas Ramsis with two minutes left thought he had scored for Strikers as he connected with Tegan Freeman’s dinked ball in sending it goal-wards but Simpson managed to scramble back and save practically on his goal-line.

Then in added time at the end of extra-time a long ball over the top released Mitchell-Phillips one-on-one with Robinson, but with the goal seemingly at his mercy the Seagulls forward could only direct his effort agonisingly wide of the target.

So on to penalties Conrad Honore, Mitchell-Phillips and Isaac Abatan all converted for Seagulls with no reply from ASC Strikers as Callum Ward saw his spot kick well saved by Simpson and Little missed the target. Ramsis and Ellard scored from the spot for Strikers either side of a fine save by Robinson to deny Seagulls’ Ward, leaving the score at three goal to two to the Seagulls with a penalty kick each remaining of the regulation ten.

The lively Pullen stepped up for Seagulls and saw his effort cannon back off the post, but his blushes were spared as Wright blew the opportunity to draw the sides level as his spot kick down the middle was read by Simpson and won the cup for the Seagulls!

After the match victorious Seagulls’ manager Keith Vipan said: “We got there in the end, we certainly made it a little bit tough for ourselves, but what a game, I’ve got to thank AFC they were amazing competitors and an enthralling game which I am sure for the neutral was great to watch.

“It was nerve-wracking for us, but the boys pulled it off in the end which is fantastic, it is great for the boys that we finally got over the line and won a cup!”

Seagulls win the Sussex John Davey Cup
HIGHLIGHTS - Seagulls vs. ASC Strikers
Watch Your Instant Replay's highlights of the Sussex John Davey Cup Final (Under-16s) between Seagulls and ASC Strikers.

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Steve Mills at Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and also on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)

Stats: (Seagulls-ASC Strikers):
Goals: 2-2; Shots: 18-21; Shot-On-target: 9-14; Corners: 1-11; Fouls: 18-13; Offside: 3-3; Yellow cards: 2-1; Red cards: 0-0.

Seagulls: Simpson, Hull, Vipan, Le Seve, Goss, Abatan, Honore, Ward, Messent (c), Pullen, Mitchell-Phillips.
Subs: Salusbury, Teichert, Weir, Henry, Huet.

ASC Strikers: Robinson, Cranfield, Harding, Marchant (c), Hickingbotham, Freeman, Munt, Little, Paine, Ramsis, Hewens.
Subs: Leahy, Wright, Ellard, Ward, Rathbone.

Match report by Darren Ford