Bognor Regis Town win the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup

Bognor emerge victorious in Senior Cup Final

Bognor Regis Town 2 - 1 Burgess Hill Town (AET)

Bognor Regis Town won the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup, sponsored by Luke & Luke Construction, for the first time since 1987 as they overcame a beleaguered Burgess Hill Town side at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Goals from Jimmy Wild and Doug Tuck saw Jack Pearce’s side lift the trophy for the ninth time in their history, but they were pushed all the way by Burgess Hill, who replied through Ross Murdoch on the stroke of half-time.

But substitute Tuck grabbed the decider in the 105th minute to seal the victory, breaking the hearts of the Burgess Hill fans who, like Bognor’s supporting crowd, were in terrific voice all evening.

It only took five minutes for Bognor to break the deadlock, as a defensive error from Tom Cadman allowed Wild to nip in, round the keeper and calmly slot home.

For the next 30 minutes, Burgess Hill had to weather an onslaught of Bognor attacks, but clinical finishing wasn’t on the agenda for Pearce’s side. Wild failed to hit the target from ten yards after being played through by Bradley Lethbridge, before Jimmy Muitt inexplicably missed an open net after rounding Josh James.

Bognor would be left to rue these missed chances as Burgess Hill’s pressure paid off in the 43rd minute. A speculative effort from captain Dan Beck was palmed away by Dan Lincoln, but only into the path of Pat Harding, who squared to Murdoch for a simple tap-in.

If the first-half was anything to live up to, the second period was rather mundane by comparison. Not until the 64th minute did either team manage to fashion a real opportunity, with more questionable finishing on show again. Aaron Smith-Joseph burst down the left-hand side for Burgess Hill, before squaring it to Murdoch, who failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.

Lethbridge was presented with a glorious chance to win the trophy for Bognor in the 89th minute, but blazed over as the game ended level after 90 minutes.

The first-half of extra-time saw limited opportunities, with many players beginning to feel the effects of a long and tiring final. But on the stroke of half-time in extra-time, Lethbridge once again made a brilliant run down the left-hand side, before finding Tuck who made no mistake, slotting home into the far corner to give Bognor the lead once again.

The goal was overshadowed by an injury to Chad Field, who left the pitch on a stretcher as the whistle blew for the end of the first period. The second-half of extra-time saw neither side able to create many clear-cut opportunities, with Cadman’s half-volley the best chance of the final 15 minutes, but his effort flew high and wide as Bognor held on for the win.

It seemed like Bognor would be made to pay for all their missed opportunities, and they almost did, but the tenacity and spirit of Pearce’s side shone through in the final moments. Burgess Hill fought valiantly throughout the game, but ultimately walked away from the Amex empty handed.

After the game, Bognor Regis Town coach Robbie Blake said: “To top the season off with a trophy is a great satisfaction for the players. Things haven’t gone for us this season, but today we’ve seen a team that works incredibly hard for each other.

“When you dominate a game like we did in the first-half, and should have been three or four nil up, the players were a bit shell-shocked and that showed a bit in the second-half. But he [Doug Tuck] brings that calmness and confidence on the ball that we needed [in extra-time].”

Bognor Regis Town lift the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup
HIGHLIGHTS - Bognor Regis Town vs. Burgess Hill Town
Watch Your Instant Replay's highlights of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup Final sponsored by Luke & Luke Construction between Bognor Regis Town and Burgess Hill Town.

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Kyle Hemsley Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and also on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)

Stats: (Bognor Regis Town-Burgess Hill Town)
Goals: 2-1; Shots: 15-11; Shots-on-target: 7-8; Corners: 4-3; Fouls: 10-13; Offside: 5-4; Yellow: 1-1; Red cards: 0-0.

Bognor Regis Town: Lincoln, McCormick, Leigh, Gilot, Field, Wood, Whyte ©, Dunn, Wild, Muitt, Lethbridge.
Subs: Scutt, Maloney, Tuck, Humphrey, Bain.

Burgess Hill Town: James, Kipeya-Bonno, Cadman, Wilson, Bennett, Jonah, Felix, Harding, Murdoch, Beck ©, Smith-Joseph.
Subs: Short, Ryder, Tuck, Sargent, Malleret.

Match report by Ben Knapton

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