The second semi-final of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup is set to be played on Wednesday 26 April 2023 between Hastings United and Worthing.
Hastings United vs. Worthing
Sussex Senior Challenge Cup Semi-Final
Date: Wednesday 26 April 2023
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
For Hastings United manager Gary Elphick, this has been the culmination of a season of hard work from his side, who are now on the cusp of making it to the final of the most prestigious football tournament in Sussex.
Elphick has had an extensive career in football as a player. He started out with Brighton & Hove Albion and even featured for the senior team before stints across the county at clubs like Eastbourne Borough and Lewes among others.
The 37-year-old was a player with Hastings for four seasons before taking the reins of the team nearly a season and a half ago.
He is currently preparing to take on one of his former sides in Worthing, for whom he had nothing but good things to say.
"I am very proud of myself, and my assistant who is with me now at Hastings, for what we achieved in our time at Worthing,” said Elphick.
“In many ways, we got the ball rolling I suppose with the promotion, and we also got into the Sussex Senior Cup Final that season.
“So, I look back on my time at Worthing with only fond memories. Worthing were just starting out on their journey, and it was my first time managing and I would like to think that it was a successful period and one that we all learnt a lot from."
Elphick is also very proud of the way his Hastings side have got this far in the cup, grinding out wins under difficult conditions in penalty shootouts on more than one occasion while also being flamboyant.
"Our first game was against Crawley, which was a really tough game against a really strong team and thankfully, we managed to win on penalties,” he said.
“I was extremely happy with that and would probably call it one of the most pleasing performances of the season for us. Then, we went to Eastbourne United, on a difficult pitch and didn’t have many chances but were able to win that game on penalties as well.
“We had a fantastic display against Horsham in the last round where we won 4-1 to get to the last four and that was one of the highlights of the season for us."
Elphick also mentioned Hastings' impeccable record in shootouts since he became manager and believes this could be advantageous for them in the semi-final.
"We have put in good performances and have also proven that we can handle the pressure of penalty shootouts,” he said, “since I have been the manager, I don’t think we have lost a penalty shootout.
“We have been involved in five shootouts since I took over and have a 100% record so we back ourselves, and I am confident my team will be up for the challenge if it goes the distance, in a tough game against a very talented Worthing side that’s for sure."
Having narrowly missed out on a play-off spot in their league, all of Hastings' eggs are now in the cup basket as they look to shake off the disappointment, as Elphick pointed out:
"Our focus is now on the semi-final in this competition. It is the only possible silverware we can win this season and all of us at Hastings want to take the next step and try and get to the final."
Ahead of the semi-final, Elphick is expecting his team's supporters to be rooting for them in full voice.
He said: "Hastings is a very well-supported club so I am expecting a lot of fans to make the trip to Lancing for the game. Our message is quite clear, we are going there to win and to try and be positive about it and give it our best shot for all the fans."
Elphick's message to his team is also very straightforward: “Concentration has to be a priority for us in this match because I know Worthing play some fantastic football with great movement.
“So, our concentration levels will have to be exceptional on the night. The other thing I would want my team to focus on is self-control in a match of this magnitude!"
Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):
£12.00 Adult (17+)
£8.00 Concession (66+ and students with valid student ID card)
£3.00 Child (16 and under)
£1.00 Official Match Day Programme
For further details about the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup please contact:
T: 01903 753547
Words by A. Ayush Chatterjee