Dennis Probee HERO

Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup Final (Under-18s) Preview

Words by Sophie Munro
Whitehawk vs. Crawley Down Gatwick

The final of the Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup (Under-18s) is set to be played on Monday 15 April 2024 between Whitehawk and Crawley Down Gatwick. 

Whitehawk vs. Crawley Down Gatwick
Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup Final (Under-18s)
Date: Monday 15 April 2024
Kick-off: 7:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

The lead up to the Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup has been a challenging one for the finalists Whitehawk and Crawley Down Gatwick.

Speaking ahead of the big game, Whitehawk manager Del Tobias reflected on the testing road his team has faced to reach the final.

“It's the second year we've reached the finals in a row, so that's a great achievement in itself and the boys be looking forward to it,” said Tobias, “unfortunately, we've got an awful lot of fixtures to play, with two games the week before our game for the Final.”

Despite reaching the Final, Whitehawk currently sit in eighth in the South Division of the Isthmian Youth Football League but, with points being close there might be a chance for the finalists to climb the table.

“It's been a difficult season with a lot of games being cancelled in the league, which has meant that we haven't been able to build any consistency but, you know, in one off games, we've been competitive, which has helped us get to the Final.”

Tobias has seen a rather interesting change to his squad with players leaving for other county cups but is eager to praise his team for their hard work.

“We've very much made up of first years which is quite an achievement, I think we've only got one or two second years in the squad for the county cup.

“I think that's even better, fantastic achievement getting that far and I'm really looking forward to seeing the team perform on the night.”

Having faced Whitehawk in the final last year and in this year’s semi-final, Hastings United were a familiar face for Whitehawk, with a narrow win on penalties saw Whitehawk advance.

“The semi-final against Hastings was a repeat of the final last year, and it went through an unprecedented penalty shoot-out and so again.

“So, the boys are pretty confident if it goes to penalties, but we'll see what happens on the night.”

With penalties comes pressure, but will that make the night of the final any easier for Whitehawk?

“It'll be interesting to see how we cope on the night,” said Tobias, “but I'm confident that the boys play to their capabilities.

“If they don't get pressured by the situation, then they should be able to perform and hopefully you know get the win that they deserve.”

“All I can really ask for is that the players enjoy the experience, and just try and perform and give the best that they can do, and that they don't allow any nerves to jeopardise their performances because it's a great platform for the players to play.”

Meanwhile Crawley Down Gatwick will be in their first County Cup Final after a successful season, with history being made Tobias expects a tough game.

“It shows how good Crawley Down are and they can't be underestimated. I'm sure the boys will be fully aware of that.”

For Crawley Down Gatwick the journey to the Final hasn’t been easy either, with manager Martin Benetar keen to stress the importance of having a united squad.

“This is our last season together and it’s been a very exciting one (despite the weather) . We have a very tight squad of players and everyone has played their part in already creating history for our club.”

The results speak for themselves, having scored 26 goals in this competition alone, Benetar has a side that’s together and a one that understands the pressures of the game ahead.

“We have a large squad and I will have to disappoint some very good players whether that’s because I cannot get them in the squad of 16 or in the starting 11 but as you mentioned the squad is very united and will continue to support each other.

“Despite a recent loss against a very good Horsham side last weekend we at times have been scoring quite freely throughout the season – will it give us an advantage when it comes to dealing with pressures of a cup final? Ask me at 10:00 pm after the game!” said Benetar.

“This is our first county cup final, so we are simply going into the unknown.”

The free scoring season continues not only in their cup games but also in the Under-18s North Southern Combination Football League.

Remaining in fourth, Benetar’s squad currently has the second highest goal difference in the League.

“I’m always guided by my chairman (Donal’s) views when it comes to understanding how our season has gone,” said Benetar.

“According to Donal this squad of players have been the most successful under 18’s team Crawley Down Gatwick have ever had.

“We have had two very good seasons in the Southern Combination Football League North Division, had a very good run in the FA Youth Cup and for this squad to be the first under 18’s team at Crawley Down Gatwick to be in the county cup final has been a massive achievement for everyone involved.”

With everyone focused on Monday’s final, what is Benetar expecting from Whitehawk?

“They have been here before so they will come with experience and quality - I have no doubt about that,” said Benetar.

“We have faced some of their players this season already and yet to get the upper hand, so we know this is going to be a very tough fixture.”

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)
Official Match Day Programme will be available online

For further details about the Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup (Under-18s) please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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