Les Kempster HERO

Sussex Les Kempster Challenge Trophy (Under-13s) Preview

Words by Joe Williams
Patcham United vs. Hastings United

The final of the Sussex Les Kempster Challenge Trophy (Under-13s) is due to take place on Sunday 23 April 2023 between Patcham United and Hastings United.

Patcham United vs. Hastings United
Sussex Les Kempster Challenge Trophy Final (Under-13s)
Date: Sunday 23 April 2023
Kick-off: 10:00am
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

Patcham have been cup specialists over the last couple of years with the squad winning the Sussex W J Jewell Trophy (Under-12s) last year as well as the league cup.

This will be the first of two cup final encounters between the two sides as they face each other in the league cup final the following weekend.

Both teams play in the Sussex Sunday Youth Football League with Hastings coming out on top in both meetings this year.

Nick Graham has been coaching the Patcham team since under-7s, when his son joined the club.

This year has seen the team move up to 11-a-side football which took them a while to get used to.

Graham said: “Bigger pitches, different formations, new players and bigger goals. So, at the start of the season there was a bit of a transition period for the first month or so, but they have taken to it quite well really.”

Just like last season they have been dominant in the cup with a 7-2 quarter-final win against Chichester City and a 4-1 win away at Eastbourne in the semi-final.

Graham see’s this year’s cup run as the highlight of the season:

“The quarter-final against Chichester was a really good performance and, in the semi-final, we were short of a few numbers but the boys dug in and did really well.”

Despite it being their third cup final in two years the squad are still excited for the final and playing at Culver Road.

Graham said: “They are all looking forward to it, they loved it last year. 

“It is a great experience for them, having the changing rooms, the facilities and the nice pitch.”

Patcham’s previous league games against Hastings have resulted in a 4-0 loss at home and a 6-2 away defeat. Graham is expecting another difficult encounter:

“It’s going to be a very tough game. From what I have seen before they are very well organised, and they have got a very good striker upfront.

“I am hoping that the pitch will suit us, we usually play better on a good pitch, so hopefully that will favour us.”

Ahead of the final Graham will be emphasising the same message he gives to his players before every match.

He said: “Go out and enjoy themselves. Play with the quality that we know they have and match the oppositions for desire, which we know they will.”

Both teams are hoping for a good turn out to support the players, but it will be a quick getaway for Graham and some of his squad as they hot-foot it to Wembley for Brighton’s Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final.

With Patcham’s team experiencing a third cup final, it will be a different scenario for many of the Hastings players.

Hastings manager, Sean Ray, has been coaching at the club for over twenty years.

This year he has been coaching the under-13s and he is looking forward to what will be a memorable day for them.

He said: “It will be great for the boys if there is a good crowd there for them. For some of them this will be the first cup final they play in.

“We have got a few boys who are quite new to football so they wouldn’t have experienced this before. 

“It’s going to be great for their learning and development to be in these big games. That’s what it’s all about, giving the boys the best experiences along the way.”

After a rocky start to the season, Hastings have picked up momentum as it has gone on...

Ray said: “We lost two of our first three games and then we went on an 18-game unbeaten run to put us in contention for the league.

“The bigger picture for us as coaches though, it’s not winning the league. The bigger picture for us is pushing these boys on to a higher standard and seeing their development.”

He went on to add: “The one competition where we have put a lot of care into is the county cup.

“It’s the best teams in the county competing so we always want to put a good show in for that, which we have and hopefully we can make the final competitive.”

After going out in the early stages of the cup last year, they have been dominant this time around.

A 7-0 quarter-final win against Peacehaven saw them progress to face Bognor in the semi-final.

This was the highlight of the cup run. Bognor had defeated Three Bridges in their quarter-finals, and with Three Bridges challenging for the league with Hastings, Ray knew this would be a tough tie.

Ray said: “Travelling down there for a 10am kick-off, we had road works on the A27, so we left about 6:30am. 

“The boys produced a brilliant performance that day and were comfortable winners to be fair.

“It was great to see their togetherness and happiness in reaching the final, because that was our target at the start of the season. Hopefully we can go one step further and actually win it now.”

Despite victory over Patcham in their games this season, Ray is not resting on his laurels:

“We know Patcham quite well, they are probably the cup kings, they won it last year and we face them again in the league cup final in two weeks’ time.

“They certainly know how to navigate cup games, they are going to be competitive, and they are going to give us a good game.

“Whatever results have happened in the past are irrelevant. It’s going to be about whatever happens on the day, and from our point of view, we just want to make sure we are competitive and that we be the best version of us we can be.

“If it’s enough on the day, then brilliant, but if it is not enough, then at least we know we have been true to ourselves.”

Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):

£5.00 Adult (17+)
£3.00 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 Les Kempster Challenge Trophy (Under-13s) please contact:

T: 01903 753547
E: Competitions@SussexFA.com

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