Pevensey win first Girls Under-13s Challenge Cup
Pevensey & Westham became the first ever winners of the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup (Under-13s) as late goals from Ella Quigley and Jess Fry settled a thrilling final at Culver Road.
With the competition curtailed due to the pandemic in 2020 and again in 2021, the cup was waiting for its inaugural Under-13s champions to be crowned and the East Sussex side eventually prevailed - in the end deservedly so.
A slow burning contest burst into life in the second half but extra-time still seemed an inevitability until Quigley’s stunning 20-yarder broke the proverbial deadlock with ten minute to go. Fry put the seal on her side’s strong second half showing with a goal direct from a corner with the last action of the encounter.
Beaming from ear to ear after the game, manager Steven Hadfield and his assistant Glenn Blakeman - both of whom proudly watched as their daughters lifted the trophy - praised the quality and skill level of their young team.
Blakeman said: “We knew it was going to be a difficult but high-quality game, we knew of Chichester’s quality and tried to prepare for that. We got a three-point win against them a few weeks ago and that helped us - but even though we know them and they us, the girls were nervous coming here as forms counts for nothing and there’s so many other factors at play like conditions, emotions and preparation.
“The wind was a factor but at half-time we told the girls to stick at it, move the ball quicker and to unsettle their centre-backs.
“I felt we got better as the game went on - we got our wingers into play more, broke the lines well and played higher up the pitch. We had to dig in and battle at times, but we showed a strong level of concentration, had to stay patient and deserved to win.
“The whole team were fantastic but Jess (Fry) was excellent in the middle of the park, she deserved her goal and I’m so pleased and proud of the girls. Any win is special but to be the first team to get this cup makes it that little bit more so.”
Chichester & Selsey had plundered twelve goals from their three ties en route to the final and went close early on when Evie Harper - Coleman, daughter of manager Trevor, steered wide having been set up by strike partner Miya Edwards. Chichester’s twin strike threat carried a modicum of threat all game in a running duel with their opposition’s strong and organised backline.
Destiny Seaver - Phillips shot wide on the counter for Pevensey, before Chi keeper Rhia Hughes was called into action for the first time to keep out Fry.
If the first half proved to be 35 minutes with chances at a premium, the nine versus nine final livened up considerably with a flurry of chances at both ends.
Ten minutes after the restart, Pevensey went close twice in quick succession when impressive sub Poppy Legg was denied by Hughes with a stunning, full-length stop. The increasingly busy Chi&Selsey keeper sprung into action again moments later - this time to keep out the aforementioned Blakeman - in a spell of pressure from Hadfield’s young charges.
Chi found themselves a side under siege as Fry saw a strike from distance kept out by the keeper, and Isabelle Weedon then did likewise only for Hughes to again keep her side in the contest.
Then it was the turn of the team from West Sussex to threaten the breakthrough - and it was a gilt-edged moment they would ultimately live to rue.
A swift break upfield saw the ball drop to Harper - Coleman five yards out and with the goal gaping, but she somehow failed to turn the ball home and the chance went begging.
That proved to be the turning point as, seven minutes later, Pevensey were ahead. Eye-catching substitute Legg made the decisive difference when she came on and she teed up fellow sub Quigley to fire home through a posse of players with an excellent effort from distance.
With the clock running down, time was against Chichester and, despite playing their part in an increasingly enthralling final, they never looked like taking the tie to an additional 20 minutes.
That possibility was finally eviscerated with the final play of the game when Fry’s corner, assisted by the strong Lancing winds, evaded everyone and looped over Hughes to set the seal on victory.
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats: (Pevensey & Westham-Chichester & Selsey): Goals (2-0); Shots (12-6), Shots on Target (8-3), Fouls (4-4); Corners (4-3), Offsides (2-1), Yellow Cards (0-0), Red Cards (0-0)
Pevensey & Westham: Hadfield; Hill, Webber, Fry, Blakeman, Weedon, Davies, Seavers - Phillips, Percy.
Subs: Smith, Lewis, Quigley, Legg, Freeman
Chichester & Selsey: Hughes; Gaudion, Mumby, Giles, Maunder, Harper - Coleman, Edwards, Phillips, Burbridge.
Subs: Mae Hughes, Chamberlain, Rawlinson.
Match Report by Jamie Spoor