Sussex Women's Challenge Trophy

Sussex Women's Challenge Trophy Final Preview

Words by Joe Williams
Burgess Hill Town vs. Bognor Regis Town

The final of the Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy is due to take place on Sunday 16 April 2023 between Burgess Hill Town and Bognor Regis Town.

Burgess Hill Town vs. Bognor Regis Town
Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy Final
Date: Sunday 16 April 2023
Kick-off: 2:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

Burgess Hill Town play in the Sussex County Women & Girls Football League Premier Division with Bognor Regis Town but they have yet to face each other in the league.

Their only game against each other came in the League Cup where Bognor came out on top with a 3-1 win.

Burgess Hill Town manager, Simon Corliss, only stepped in to manage the first team five games ago after the previous manager left.

He has been coaching at the club for a number of years though, initially with his daughter’s team through the under-10s to under-13s stage before taking over a newly formed development squad aimed at bridging the gap between the under-18s and the first team.

With the change in manager, it has been a difficult season for the club, Corliss said: “We have come in at a point when the games have really stopped because of the weather and other problems, so it’s been very much stop start.

“But it allowed us to work with the squad of players that we’ve got over the last few weeks in training.  We have looked at it, found a formation that works and got them in the positions they should be playing in.

“Their reaction has been outstanding so far. I’ll be honest the changes they have had to cope with, to be in a final is a credit to them, they deserve it.”

Corliss, and his fellow coach Jason Blackburn, have come in and overseen the team on the cup-run which included a 2-1 victory over Worthing Town in the semi-final.

He said: “To go into that semi-final it was all about confidence, it was all they needed. They are good enough footballers individually and as a squad, it’s great to watch and they are a fantastic group to work with.”

For the majority of the Burgess Hill players this will be their first County Cup final: “They are all really excited to be a part of it and they have worked for it,” said Corliss.

“I think for most of them it’s their first cup final, they’re going to go at it, they’re going to get their heads in it and their attitudes all in the right direction. We’ll be ready for it, they are excited.”

Despite their recent loss to Bognor, Corliss is focusing solely on his team: “The idea is for the girls to turn up and play their own game and it doesn’t really matter who we are facing.

“My expectation of them is just to go out and enjoy it, play with freedom, and showcase what they can do. If they do that, and they do it at the level I have seen them play at, we will have a really successful day.

“But it really is a case of enjoying the occasion, because it doesn’t matter who you are, if you get to a final it’s got to be enjoyable, this is what we play football for.”

Corliss is hoping his team will have a good number of Burgess Hill Town supporters attending on the day: “It’s a big club, the first team men’s have got a big following, the women’s team is just starting to get momentum.

“We’ll have our little mascots that come from our academy, they’ll be coming along with us and hopefully all their parents as well.

“We’ve promoted it, we are proud to be in the final and hopefully we will get a nice lot of support.”

Corliss is full of praise for his teams’ efforts since he took over and wants their dedication to be rewarded in the final.

He said: “The squad has worked so hard, and I just want people to recognise that they are individually and as a team, seriously good. 

“They are a class act; they are great to work with and honestly, I just wish them all the success. I hope that they get what they deserve which would be a great win and we’ll have a really good party afterwards.”

This is the first season that Bognor Regis Town have had a women’s first team, after manager Matt Trinidad helped set the squad up in the summer.

He said: “We have always wanted to start a women’s side; we were going to start it two or three years ago but because of COVID we decided to put it on hold until last summer.

“Around May/June time last year we formed a team. We started off with four people on trials that turned up when we advertised and now, we have a squad of around 25, it has gone from strength to strength.”

The campaign could not have gone better for Bognor with a promotion mid-way through the season, the chance of a league title and now a cup final on the horizon.

Trinidad said: “They put us in division 1 and we won the first seven games, so we got promoted to the Premier Division. 

“At the moment we are sitting third, but we have four or five games in hand here we haven’t fulfilled our fixtures due to the weather.”

Having played semi-professionally, the Bognor manager turned his focus to coaching when his daughter was born. He has over twenty years of coaching experience, much of it has been within Sussex where he has managed youth teams at Mile Oak and Rustington.

As such he has plenty of practise in County Cups, and he has yet to taste defeat when getting to this stage: “I have played two semi-finals and two finals (at Culver Road) and have not lost yet.

“At Mile Oak we won the county cup and league cup with my daughter in the team. It’s funny because I have always been in the away dressing room and we have got the away dressing room again this year, so it must be a good omen.”

The games are now coming thick and fast for Bognor as they look to win a league and cup double in their first season.

Having been promoted to the Premier Division they beat the current holders Pagham Ladies 4-0 away from home in a game that Trinidad flagged as a highlight of their season.

Coming up they have a crucial game against Shoreham in the league, the team they defeated in the semi-final.

A difficult cup run saw them play away from home in every round as they progressed to the final.

The team is now excited for the big game: “They are loving it, they are a great bunch, there’s no arguments, they have a bit of banter, but they are all good ladies, so they’ve been a pleasure to coach all year.”

Despite being a new team, they have built up a good following and are hopeful that a good crowd will be there to support them in the final.

Trinidad said: “We normally have 50 to 75 watching our home games at Bognor’s ground so we have a good attendance. 

“We are hoping to drum up a load of support from Bognor’s men’s team supporters to come down and watch us as well. We have advertised it in the program and on the website so hopefully they come and watch us and cheer us on.”

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 Women’s Challenge Trophy please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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