Bognor triumph from the spot against Eastbourne
Bognor Regis Town clinched the Sussex Stan Beattie Memorial Trophy (Under-15s) after a dramatic penalty shootout win over Eastbourne Borough, in front of 213 spectators at Culver Road.
The two sides battled hard for the full 80 minutes, however the game ended 1-1 in regular time and had to be decided from the spot, with Bognor coming out on top 4-5 after confidently dispatching all their spot kicks.
Evenly matched from the start, the game started slowly as the teams sized each other up, but soon the first-half intensity started to rise.
This tension soon boiled over, and the Rocks Charlie Parker was booked in the 16th minute for a late challenge on Eastbourne’s Sam Sharma.
The deadlock was broken by the Rocks in the 27th minute as Lennie Smith skillfully dinked his shot over the advancing Eastbourne keeper Toby Whiteside.
Boro were not going to give it up that easily, and in the 39th minute they got an excellent opportunity to equalize after the referee pointed to the spot. Aldin Hodzic stepped up and dispatched the ball home coolly.
In the opening minutes of the second-half, Bognor keeper Archie Short had to be at his best to tip over a flicked header from Sharma.
In the 53rd minute it was Whiteside being kept busy as he dived to save an attempt by Bognor goal-scorer Smith.
The yellow cards kept coming for both teams as the game edged towards the final stages.
Eastbourne’s Archie Grant was booked for unsporting behavior, and minutes later the Rocks’ Evan Bengough-Drake was cautioned for a poor challenge.
With nothing to separate the teams at the final whistle, the game had to be decided by the lottery of spot kicks.
If the Bognor players were nervous, they certainly didn’t show it, as all five of their penalties were put away with confidence.
Yet for Eastbourne, as the tension of the shootout started to bite, it was Zack Tarrant who was unable to keep his effort down, as it struck the crossbar.
The Rocks’ manager Nick Scott was delighted with his boys’ performance post-match.
“It was nerve-wracking,” he said. “We had a decent start of the game, and we got the goal we deserved in the first-half.”
“We had to re-build, re-focus and come out again in that second-half,” he continued. “After the equalizer, the boys were a bit dejected, so we had to raise their spirits again.
“But I just said to the boys to remember that we were still level pegging, and thanks to that goal, they’ll be coming out fast in the second-half so you need to be ready.”
Of course with penalties always being a potential obstacle in any cup final, did Scott have the team running through spot kicks in training to prepare?
“No penalties practiced,” he shared. “We went with the first five names to take one [penalty], we felt they’d be confident to put the ball in the back of the net.”
“So it was great to see the lads step up and put five really well taken penalties away to win it for us, because at the end of the day I think we were the better side so I’m delighted the boys were able to get the job done.
“After last year, coming here and losing the final, we all wanted to go that one step further this year, so a great day all round!"
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats (Eastbourne Borough-Bognor Regis Town): Goals (1-1; 4-5 on pens), Shots (9-10), Shots on target (5-6), Corners (6-0), Fouls (8-4), Yellow cards (2-2), Red cards (0-0)
Eastbourne Borough: Whiteside, Gerrish, Shaw, Harris, Barrett, Holman, Sharma, Jackson, Tarrant, Hodzic, Grant
Subs: Galt, Callen-Dickens, Keeley
Bognor Regis Town: Short, Coe, Murphy, Smith, Bengough-Drake, Cox, Horstead, Kingswell, Parker, Rishman, Glanfield
Subs: Andrews, Merritt, Scott, Rampton