Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Bognor Regis Town

Bognor edge Brighton to advance to Senior Cup Final

Words by Joe Williams
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 Bognor Regis Town (4-5 after penalties)

Bognor Regis Town advanced to the final of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup after defeating Brighton & Hove Albion 4-5 on penalties at Culver Road on Tuesday night, following a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.

An open and exciting game, goals from Bognor’s Sam De St Croix cancelled out Romeiro Moulton’s opener for Brighton, to see the tie settled from kicks from the penalty mark.

Matthew Rowley ended as the hero for Bognor. His penalty save from Matt Everitt was the deciding factor, with Bognor successfully despatching all their spot kicks.

The Rocks were worthy of their win; they shaded the encounter over the 90 minutes with their high press and tenacity stopping the young Brighton team from playing their usual passing style.

The night started with a minute’s applause to commemorate the life of Mathew Major, the Sussex County FA Chairman who sadly passed away this week.

Brighton were considered the favourites in the tie, the Premier League outfit are the current holders of the cup, and they fielded a talented team predominantly made up of their Under-21s side.

However, it became apparent from kick-off that Bognor were going to take the game to them.

The Rocks disrupted Brighton’s intentions to pass out from the back, with several chances in the first twenty minutes coming from Bognor winning the ball from inside the Seagulls half.

The front three of Bognor worked tirelessly, Daniel Gifford, Alfie Bridgman and Nathan Odokonyero picked up pockets of space around the area and caused issues for the defence all night.

A challenge on Gifford saw Bognor’s players call for a red card after 25 minutes. A long ball sent the on-loan Portsmouth forward through on goal. Tony Bull, the Brighton keeper, raced out of his box but was unable to connect with the ball and collided with Gifford instead. 

The referee judged that the recovering defender stopped it from being a clear goalscoring opportunity and a yellow card was handed out.

Moments later, Bognor were picking the ball out of the net.

A back pass from Cameron Black was intercepted in the box by Ben Wilson, who squared the ball to Moulton, and he had the simple task of tapping the ball into the empty net.

The goal relaxed Brighton and they started to have more success with direct balls, bypassing Bognor’s press, to the wings.

As soon as they were in the attacking half, they looked a threat. The skilful Benicio Baker-Boatley almost put the Seagulls two goals up when he skipped past a defender and unleashed a fierce strike that stung the hands of Rowley.

Bognor’s endeavours were rewarded in the 37th minute. A ball in the box led to confusion between Bull and his centre-back, Gifford harried them, and the ball broke to De St Croix who calmy side-footed the into the corner of the net.

The second-half played out much like the first. The Rocks had spells where they dominated and had a number of chances, but rarely did they test the keeper.

Their best chance of the half fell to Odokonyero. A brilliantly worked one-two between Joseph Rabbets and Harvey Whyte led to the ball being played across the face of goal where Odokonyero stretched to shoot, but he was only able to divert the ball into the keepers’ arms.

Whenever Brighton broke through the press, they continued to look dangerous.

They had their chance to win it when a through ball sent Moulton free down the left wing. His first time cross was chested down by Wilson who placed a left footed shot just wide of the post.

Both teams pushed till the end in an entertaining finale but neither side could find a winner.

Bognor’s Rowley saved the first penalty from Everitt and every player scored thereafter. 

The winning penalty was clipped nonchalantly into the roof of the net by Joshua McCormick to send the Bognor fans home ecstatic.

The Rocks will now face either Hastings United or Worthing in the Sussex Challenge Cup Final at the American Express Community Stadium on the Thursday 11 May 2023.

Brighton vs. Bognor YT Thumb
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Bognor Regis Town - 18-04-23
Highlights of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup Semi-Final powered by Your Instant Replay.

(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

Stats (Brighton & Hove Albion-Bognor Regis Town): Goals (1-1); Shots (4-18); On target (2-3); Offsides (2-0); Fouls (10-6); Yellow cards (1-0); Red cards (0-0).

Brighton & Hove Albion: Bull, Packham, Shann, Kavanagh, Penman, Hinchy, Baker-Boaitey, Everitt, Wilson, Mullins, Duffus.
Subs: Chouchane, Reid, Peupion, McConville, Moulton.

Bognor Regis Town: Rowley, Dockerill, Rabbetts, Davies, Black, Robson, Whyte, De St Croiz, Odokonyero, Gifford, Bridgman.
Subs: McCormick, Figueira, Howick, Briffa, Holland.

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