Saltdean HERO

Dove eyes cup double for Saltdean

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 Zak Dove, his side has sailed through to the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final, after what has been a rewarding season for Saltdean United.

In the lead-up to the big game, Dove recounts the challenges he and the team have faced on their road to the Final.

“They've had a tough time over the last few years, obviously, I only came in at the start of last season, and it was a big change at the club with players coming and going,” said Dove.

“So, it shows that there's been real progress and obviously it's good for the players.”

For Saltdean United, the goals just won’t stop coming.

In their last two cup games Dove’s side have scored an impressive nine goals with seven of those coming in a comprehensive win over Bognor Regis Town in the Quarter-Final.

“It’s something we've been working on since Christmas, scoring more goals, because prior to that, we were really good defensively but just weren’t putting our chances away,” said Dove.

“So again, it's another sign that the players are working hard and listening and doing the right things and obviously again, you get results from it, so it's good for us and it gives us massive confidence going into the game against Newhaven.”

Away from the Cup Final, Saltdean United have faced their fair share of tests, but Dove is keen to display how important the improvement is for his team, and how things are starting to fall into place for The Tigers.

“We've had lots of changes obviously with the club, with all the building work that's going on, it's kind of showing that with all the changes, everything's going in the right direction,” said Dove.

“We're trying to push the club forward, trying to do things right and then obviously, if we can do the on-field stuff right as well, results follow, players follow, and it makes everything a little bit easier.

“It definitely gives us a lot of confidence, and we're happy where we are at the moment, but we’ve obviously got a big week ahead with the Cup Final on Sunday, and this Cup Final on Wednesday as well.”

Georgia Bridges has captained The Tigers through the good and the bad.

The forward joined the club in March 2021 and has been the glue which has kept the squad and fans united for several seasons.

“She’s massive for us,” said Dove, “she was there before me, and she was the first one to come and talk to me when it got announced that I was taking over.

“But she's also the first person to come up to me and ask questions, and is the important link between me and the group of players.

“Before she was captain, and since I've come in, I've kept her as captain, and she's completely done everything right.

“She just galvanises everything that you say whether that is with the fans, the players, the club, she's just a brilliant person to have around, and she makes my life a lot easier, definitely.”

It was announced that Dove was set to manage The Tigers in March 2022, with the club potentially staring down the barrel of a relegation. But since his arrival, the squad have turned their fortunes around.

With goals flying in during every game, it’s clear the work behind the scenes is paying off on the pitch.

“There’s been quite a few challenges,” said Dove, “I've got to admit, at the start, it was tough, because, like I said, there was such a high number of players that left, obviously, the year before that they had a tough season where they stayed up, I think it was by a point on the last day of the season.

“So, it was a big thing of trying to come in and sort of change the perspective. Because everyone in football knows that when there's the perspective from the outside that the team is struggling, it can be really hard work to bring new players in. Or to get the players that are there to get on board with new ideas.

“But I think we’re in a really good place now,” he said, “so it's getting there, it's definitely getting there.”

Saltdean United are set to play Newhaven in the Final, so what does Dove expect from the rival side?

“It’ll be a competitive game that’s for sure,” said Dove, “we expect them to be really up for it, obviously with it being the Final. They've obviously got something to prove being the side that’s the league below us.

“We expect them to be resolute and expect them to be competitive physically and tactically.

“So, if we can get the game to settle down, and play how we want to play, then obviously we can imprint what we do, and hopefully get some success out of it!”

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

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