The final of the Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup is due to take place on Wednesday 12 April 2023 between Jarvis Brook and Hollington United.
Jarvis Brook vs. Hollington United
Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup Final in memory of Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt
Date: Wednesday 12 April 2023
Kick-off: 7:30 PM
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, BN15 9AX
Currently sitting top of the Southern Combination Football League Division 2, Jarvis Brook are a side who have made keeping clean sheets something of a habit, with the side boasting the best defence in the league, having only conceded 14 goals.
Speaking ahead of the final, their manager, Jacob Baldwin, was keen to stress his great pride in his sides resolute defending.
“That’s probably the thing I have been impressed the most with over the two years. That effort and desire to keep clean sheets.
“I know my defenders have their own WhatsApp group, and they will often speak to each other every game saying they could have done that better or they could have done this better so I don’t even need to tell them anymore.
“They automatically know what we want to do or what we want to see, and they just do it.”
It is a phenomenal record at this point in the season and they have kept their record of best defence from last year, where they only conceded 19.
However, despite their strong back-line, it was not enough to nullify Sidley United’s attack in last year’s final.
A 2-1 defeat at Culver Road saw Jarvis Brook condemned to a brace of the unwanted kind, after finishing runners up to Rustington in last season’s league campaign.
Baldwin acknowledged this particular moment as just a bruise and not a permanent tattoo. The former Crawley Town Head of Sports and Coaching ensured his team had learnt from last year’s final and that a failure is not something permanent.
“The bruise has helped because they have really strived to get better and get here again, to right the wrongs almost from last year,” Baldwin said.
“Mentally, the boys have definitely used that as motivation especially in pre-season. There was a hunger to get back here, which luckily, we have.”
Their opponents this year are Mid-Sussex Football League’s Hollington United, the irresistible force of Step 7 football in Sussex
“With the way they play the game, there is no one better in Tier Seven football than them in what they do”, Baldwin admitted.
Hollington’s 3-0 victory against Punnetts Town in the semi-final saw them make their second final appearance in the Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup. Their first came in 2019, where a Dan Hull winner deep into extra-time won it for the Hastings-based side.
But to win it again, they must construct a plan to stop Jarvis Brook’s Stephen Smith who has been dubbed the best striker in Step 7 football.
Smith is enjoying an outstanding season, leading the SCFL’s scoring charts with 24 goals in 20 games. From his rocket free-kick against Copthorne last month to his audacious flick against Rustington in February, Smith’s blend of power and craft has seen Baldwin compare him to Chelsea legend, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink.
“He reminds me a lot of him [Hasselbaink]. I used to watch him as a kid and he used to hit the ball so hard, he would just rip the net off”, Baldwin stated.
“And Steve is very much in the same mould. I’ve never seen someone hit the ball with such force!”
For Hollington United manager, John Carey, Wednesday’s final is something of a case of déjà vu, as he comes up against familiar opponents Jarvis Brook, who he triumphed over in last year's cup final when he was at the helm of Sidley United.
Hollington United clearly liked what they saw in that final, approaching Carey as soon as he stepped down from his post.
“I felt I’d done as much as I could do with Sidley, so I was after a new challenge in a new league,” said Carey
“Next thing I know I’m getting a call from Hollington asking me to come in for a chat, and from meeting them and seeing the club, I liked the look of it and the way it was run.
“They also had a mission and a path they wanted to go down, so I thought I’d give it a go.”
And ‘give it a go’ Carey did; after 18 games his side are currently unbeaten at the top of Mid Sussex Football League, with 52 points, having only drawn once this season, and finding the back of the net 79 times.
At the back, Carey’s outfit have been just as impressive, only conceding four this campaign, which is something he puts down to his reliable back-line.
“For me, that’s all down to the boys I’ve got,” said Carey.
“Although I’ve changed the team around a bit this season, the defence has mostly stayed the same, so the more they keep playing together and enjoying their football, the happier I’ll get!”
When it comes to Wednesday night, it’s no surprise, given the clinical nature of his side, that Carey is going into the game with confidence.
“Going into the final I’d say we’re fairly confident,” said Carey, “having played against Jarvis Brook last year I know they’re a good side, but they’ve also lost some of their recent ties, which stands us in good stead.
“A lot of our players came with me from Sidley, so they know what Jarvis Brook are about.
“But I know this is going to be the toughest game of the season for us, so I’m looking forward to it.”
When it comes to the cup this season, Hollington have brought their league form with them, conceding only once in their run to the final.
Yet the team were tested in the quarter-final, with Storrington Community holding them to a narrow 2-1 victory.
“They weren’t a bad side to their credit,” said Carey, “they were well organised and definitely gave us a good game.”
Away from the final that awaits though, what other goals has Carey got for his team for the rest of the season?
“For us it’s now just about trying to go the rest of the season unbeaten,” said Carey, “we’re set to win the league in the next few games if results go our way, but to finish unbeaten is the goal we’ve all got in mind.”
As for the big game though on Wednesday night, Carey’s message to his players is clear.
“Just do what you’ve been doing all season!” he said.
Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):
£7.00 Adult (17+)
£5.00 Concession (66+ and students with valid student ID card)
£1.00 Child (16 and under)
£1.50 Official Match Day Programme
For further details about the Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup please contact:
T: 01903 753547