Les Kempster HERO

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

Words by Luke Ashbery
Lancing Rangers vs. Hollingbury Hawks

The final of the Sussex Les Kempster Challenge Trophy (Under-13s) is set to be played on Sunday 14 April 2024 between Lancing Rangers and Hollingbury Hakws.

Lancing Rangers vs. Hollingbury Hawks
Sussex Les Kempster Challenge Trophy Final (Under-13s)
Date: Sunday 14 April 2024
Kick-off: 2:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA. Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX 

Jamie Hollis’ Lancing Rangers side has had an ‘inconsistent’ season by their very high standards, but they have excelled in the cup to reach the final which will be Hollis’ last game in charge. 

“I’ve been with the boys for seven and a half years since they were Under-6s,” said Hollis.

“Even though it’s my last game with them I hope they play for themselves and not for me, as it's always been about them.

“Over the years we’ve seen development over all four corners of The FA model and socially they are a very tight-knit group with a lot of them now going to school together. 

“Technically they have improved too, but they’ve always been a top-performing group.”

Lancing Rangers are currently fourth in the Saywell International (Arun and Chichester) Youth Football League Under-13 Division A in their first season playing 11-a-side. 

On their league season so far, Hollis said: “With the transition to 11-a-side, a lot of the teams in our league that are having success are physically bigger.

“A couple of our lads are smaller, but I’ve told them they will catch up eventually and not to look into it too much. In terms of technical ability, they are still as good as anyone.

“Looking at the season overall, although the league position might not show our success, I look at it from a development point of view.

“I’ve always said ‘Judge me when the boys are 18, are they still playing? Are they still enjoying themselves? Are they still friends?’

“And if the answer is yes to the majority of them, I’ll be happy. I’m fortunate that they just happen to be a group of good footballers at the same time.”

Despite finding it more difficult than previous years in the league, the team has saved some of their best performances for the cup, with Hollis saying: 

“We went into early cup games with confidence as they were against lower opposition, but then we came up against Hastings [in the quarter-final] who were one of the favourites.

“The team put in one of the best shifts I’ve seen, all our principles were there, the attitude, the application, the desire. The game ended up going to penalties and luckily we came out on top.

“In the semi-final, we played East Grinstead, again another great side, and the game ebbed and flowed, and we had to dig deep to find something within ourselves to make sure we made it to the final.

“The last two games have been a hard challenge, but we’ve risen to it very well.

“We’re expecting another tough game, for them [Hollingbury Hawks] to be getting through to the final in a County Cup they must have been doing something right as well.” 

Hollis added: “Getting to the final is massive for us, especially as it’s our first season at 11-a-side.

“But we are under no illusions, we aren’t going out there for a day in the sun, we are going out there to do a job and the boys are up for it.”

Hollingbury Hawks are remarkably unbeaten in their last two seasons playing against teams of their age group, and they are no stranger to the big occasion having won the cup double last year. 

Manager, John Seeney, said: “Last year we won the County Cup and League Cup, but don’t get me wrong, the team are still very excited and hungry as they always are.

“It’s not been the easiest of runs, especially the last two rounds, but it’s been pleasing to make it through. 

“We managed to just get past Eastbourne Town in the quarter-final, winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

“But our semi-final against Worthing was the big game, as in theory we hadn’t lost a match for 18 months and I think they had a similar record.   

“So, one record was going to come to an end that weekend, with both teams really going for it and thankfully we came out with the win. 

“It’s something [the unbeaten run] the boys are very proud of, and they want to maintain that.”

Although Seeney is confident his side can beat anyone on their day, he will be taking no chances in the final. 

On Lancing Rangers, he said: “They are the great unknown; we haven’t faced them before and so we will find out on the day.

“We will approach the game how we always do with our principles on how football should be played. 

“We will try and work out how they play as quickly as possible, and we will try and find some situations that we can exploit within their team. 

“It’s going to be a learning curve, when you face teams that you have played before you tend to know how to play, in this case, we will have to adapt on the day.”

When asked who we should look out for on the day, Seeney was reluctant to single out one player, instead focusing on the team. 

Seeney said: “They are all very good players, any one of them could shine, it’s very rare that all of them would have an off game, so I’m hoping for a few of them to turn up and showcase their ability on the day.

“The boys are a fantastic group of players who all enjoy each other’s company and all work very hard as well.

“In our age group we have done very well, we haven’t lost a game that we’ve been on the pitch for, which is a great achievement. 

“But we’ve gone up a year for Sunday’s playing under-14s, which has been a challenge and we’ve had some defeats and difficult games. 

“It’s all about testing the boys and trying to keep them going, we are in no way big-headed.”

On what he’ll be telling his players before they walk out on Sunday, Seeney added: 

“To be calm, enjoy the game and the moment, work hard, and ultimately go out and get that win. 

“You’ve got 70 minutes to go out and switch on and bring it home hopefully, it's about keeping them relaxed and trying to get them to play their best football.”

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 Les Kempster Challenge Trophy (Under-13s) please contact:

T: 01903 753547
E: Competitions@SussexFA.com

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