Newhaven HERO

Cook calls for fearlessness from Newhaven

Words by Sophie Munro
Saltdean United vs. Newhaven

The Final of the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup is set to be played on Wednesday 24 April 2024 between Saltdean United and Newhaven.

Saltdean United vs. Newhaven
Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final
Date: Wednesday 24 April 2024
Kick-off: 7:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

For many managers who find themselves going into the Final as underdogs, they could be daunted by the prospect. But not Andy Cook, who was quick to express just how up for the challenge his Newhaven side are. 

“It means a lot to have made it to the Final, it's a bit of a strange one due to the circumstances around our admission to it, because it gave us a pathway that we didn't really expect,” said Cook.

“However, we beat Montpelier in the Quarter-Finals, so we had a good game there, and we actually held our own against Worthing in the Semi-Final for large periods of that match.

“So, we’re happy to be there and we're certainly going to enjoy the occasion.”

Even if you take away reaching the Final, Newhaven have had a season to remember, currently sitting at the top of the London & South East Regional Women's Football League Division 1 South.

Cooks' team are just inches away from sealing the League title, with just two games to go. 

“We’ve definitely had a really good season, that’s for sure,” said Cook.

“We’re knocking on the door of winning the League, needing just two points from our last two games.

“Ever since pre-season, we've knitted together and there's been a bit of a buzz about the squad this season, and I think winning so many games this year has really helped us confidence-wise. 

“There's a bit more belief than perhaps we've had in recent seasons, so we go into the game next Wednesday with no fear and to be honest, nothing to lose because we are the underdogs.”

Cook's underdogs haven’t always had the easiest of runs, but have stuck together through the good and bad times, so was this success something he expected from his side?

“It really wasn't expected,” he said, “we thought we had a better chance of being more successful than recent seasons, and our aim was to finish sort of top three, top four.

“With a few players disappearing to other teams, and a bit of movement here and there, we thought maybe this season we can have an impact, but I don't think we expected to win 19 out of 20 games so far. 

“That's been a fair achievement, it really has, but credit to everyone who's played, and credit to the coaching staff that we've got.

The goals for Newhaven haven’t stopped coming either, with 11 scored in their last three games, and Cook is keen to note the team's work ethic which has aided them to success.

Especially the likes of Lucy Collinson, one of the many players currently sitting with more than ten goals to their name this season. 

“We've worked really hard in training this season on both creating more chances, and converting them, and there's been a noticeable improvement. 

“This season we've got four players in double figures compared to previous seasons, where we didn’t get anyone into double figures in competitive games,” Cook said, “but now we've got Collinson on 20, and Chloe Evans who scored 15 or 16.

“There have been big goals from other parts of the team as well, and it’s been a big plus for us this season, and certainly something that we have worked really hard on and got the rewards for it now.”

With the Final not far away, what does Cook expect from Saltdean United?

“I've watched them a couple of times, just to get a feel for what they're about, and they've got some very good players,” said Cook, “so we're under no illusions that it's going to be a really tough ask to compete and to get something out of the game.

 “We're well aware of the dangers that they pose, they've got some real attacking threats up top, and we're aware of each of them, having come up against them a couple of times for other teams.

“The players they've got in centre are also extremely good, so all in all, we understand it's going to be a real tough challenge but, as I said earlier, it's easy, for us, there's no pressure, we've got nothing to lose. 

“We'll just go and give it the best shot that we possibly can!”

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 Women’s Challenge Cup please contact:

T: 01903 753547

Photo credit: Ryan Quinn

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