The final of the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup is due to take place on Sunday 5 March 2023 between BN Dons and A.S. Crawley.
BN Dons vs. A.S. Crawley
Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup Final
Date: Sunday 5 March 2023
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, BN15 9AX
We spoke to the managers of both sides to get their views on what promises to be a mammoth clash to decide who takes the trophy home.
First up was player/manager Adam Barber, who took over BN Dons at the start of the season and has already led them to one trophy.
Barber has been playing football since the tender age of five and took on the role with the Dons after impressing while managing in the Saturday league midway through last season, and now he has his eyes firmly set on another piece of silverware.
"I think for all the boys at the club and looking at the fans, it's the most important trophy. It's very prestigious. Everyone wants to win it and it is something that we haven't won yet.
“So, to perform and lift that trophy would be the icing on the cake for the club at the moment. Every game is difficult, but this is the one everyone is focused on.
The journey to the final has been a memorable one for varying reasons according to Barber.
"It has been sort of black and white,” said Barber, “We started off with a 12-2 win and then a bye in the next round. So, no disrespect, but the start was quite easy for us.
“Then we went into some difficult games, the next one was a tough one, 7-3 against Valley FC who put up a fight and then we got one of our rivals in the semi-finals in Woodingdean but we came away with a 4-2 win in tough game.
“So, we have had to work hard towards the end of it, but all wins have been deserved and our eyes are set on the final now."
Heading into the final against A.S. Crawley, Barber feels his charges are experienced and up for the fight.
"We have won one cup already this season, The Super Cup, after beating Valley Rovers,” said Barber.
“It was the first year of that trophy and we were the first team to lift that. We've been in cup finals since we've been established as a club, so we've got a few in the bank and we're no strangers to a final."
Aside from this final, Barber’s side are also in two semi-finals and hoping they can extend their cup runs and finish the season with multiple trophies.
“We are always confident in any game that we go into. No matter the result of the previous games, any given day, we fancy ourselves to be winning. So, we are looking to secure four or five trophies this season.”
Finally, Barber shared his message for all the fans of BN Dons who will be hoping to lift their side all the way to glory.
“I would ask them to be as loud as possible. I think all the boys, whether they be on the bench or on the field, or the staff; we really do react to it well so just be as loud as possible.
“We've got a great atmosphere; we've got the second team that's all buzzing for us. Be loud, chant and just get behind the team. Whether it be a goal, a save a big tackle or anything else, just get hyped up for all of it.”
His message for his team was also straight and to the point.
“Play for the badge. Play for your friends. Every one of us is there for the same reason. Go and work hard for the people next to you and those that are watching. Start fast and just be ruthless from minute one.”
On the other side of the white line, we spoke to Levi Austin, the manager of A.S. Crawley, who are gearing up for their first final at this level, to get his thoughts ahead of the showdown.
“It is an amazing feeling. It just shows that when we first started it, two or three seasons ago; where we were then to where we are now, it’s a huge success just to get to the final; our first County Cup Final ever as a club. It’ll be a great day and we’re all very much looking forward to it.”
Despite being a division below their opponents in this final, A.S. Crawley can take heart from the fact that they have already beaten BN Dons 6-1 this season, and Austin’s side is brimming with confidence.
“I think we can do it again. I am confident given the way we played them last time out that we can beat them in the final.”
He also picked that emphatic win as a highlight for A.S. Crawley this season, coupled with their 3-1 win over rivals Emerald that got them to this title showdown.
Like the Dons, A.S. Crawley are also in contention for multiple trophies this season and have been in superb form thus far.
“At the moment we are top of the league. Obviously, we are looking to try and win the league and we are in two other semi-finals. I think we’ve got the squad to finish the season with multiple trophies and I also think we’ve got the experience and personality required to do it.
“I think if things carry on the way they have this season, we can definitely do it. If we can carry on performing at that same level to the end of the season, then I am confident that we can do something great with this team and walk away with some trophies.
“I don’t think our season could have gone any better than it has, and I could not ask for more from the players and the backroom staff. We just have to see what the next couple of games are going to be like.”
Despite this amazing run or results, Austin was keen to reiterate that there is no room for complacency in his side.
“I am hungry and so is the team,” said Austin, “Even though we have won a lot of games, the next game could always go a different way. The players are aware of that. They are aware that we are on a good run but ultimately, you don’t just turn up and win matches. You’ve got to give 110 % and graft and work hard and compete all the time. So, our mindset is very strong at the moment, and I know that they are not taking it lightly.”
Heading into the final, Austin had a simple message for his team as well as their fans who will make their way to Lancing for the game.
“I would tell them to keep doing what we have been doing all season. It’s the mindset thing for me. We’ve won a lot of games and that’s not by luck. It’s hard work and commitment to cultivate that winning mentality that has got us where we are and that needs to continue.
“We’ve come all this way to the final, we’ve grafted to get here. Now we need to up our game ten times. That final means everything for us and we have to go home with the trophy.”
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 Sunday Challenge Cup please contact:
T: 01903 753547