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Sussex Principal RUR Charity Cup Final Preview

Words by Will Kirkup
Haywards Heath Town vs. Horsham YMCA

The Final of the Sussex Principal RUR Charity Cup is set to be played on Saturday 20 April 2024 between Horsham YMCA and Haywards Heath Town.

Horsham YMCA vs. Haywards Heath Town
Sussex Principal RUR Charity Cup Final
Date: Saturday 20 April 2024
Kick-off: 7:45pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

For Horsham YMCA manager, Dean Carden, looking ahead to this weekend’s Final, he sees one of his sides biggest strengths is having club captain Ashley Dugdale in the squad.

Dugdale was in the team when Horsham last won the cup in 2014, and having him “as the club captain, who’s been there, seen it, done it, will be invaluable to the rest,” according to Carden.

Horsham YMCA were dominant in their semi-final, as they beat Roffey 3-0 at home.

They sit 16th in the Southern Combination Football League Premier Division, well below Haywards Heath Town in sixth, but Carden is confident that this difference in form won’t hinder his sides chances.

“The cup is different to the league because it’s the flip of a coin. The team turn up and do the business on the day, whereas form plays a big part in the league, the way teams play, where we’re playing, but the cup final, it’s a free hit for both of us,” said Carden.

“I think on their day they could beat us, but if we turn up, we can beat them. I think Haywards Heath will hold their hands up and go: ‘We know we’re in a game, it can go either way’.”

In the last meeting between Horsham YMCA and Haywards Heath Town, YM fell to a 2-1 defeat, but Carden cited failed first-half tactics for the result.

“First-half we sat back and were 2-0 down, second-half we pressed, and within five minutes got a goal back, and then missed a penalty towards the end of the game.

“I think if you’re really organised and have got two or three proper talkers and leaders in your side, then yes, you can probably let Haywards Heath play possession.

“Otherwise, we’ve got to make a decision Saturday, to either press as a unit from minute one, or see what Haywards Heath are going to throw at us first. 

“I obviously won’t show my hand to you yet in case they’re reading, but there is one of two ways we can play it, we can do both well, it’s just which ones going to work on Saturday.”

He said Dugdale, a central midfielder, “will rat about as long as his legs will take him, it might be an hour, it might be 90, whatever it is” and that forward “Jamie Taylor speaks for himself, ex-pro, has got goals at most levels, and doesn’t need too many invites to get a shot off.”

Carden’s side have enjoyed a decent run of form in April, as they were unbeaten with a draw and two wins until a 4-0 defeat at Eastbourne Town last time out.

And the Horsham YMCA boss seemed undeterred by the result.

“We go into it confident, forget the Eastbourne Town game, we went there weak, we go into Saturday, it’s the last hurrah before the last game of the season, so make no bones about it we’re going to go for it,” said Carden.

Sitting in the opposite dugout, Haywards Heath Town manager Naim Rouane, said he is “really confident” as the club aim to win their first Sussex Principal RUR Charity Cup since 1976.

Haywards Heath Town survived a late comeback in the semi-final against Eastbourne Town after letting two goal lead slip to draw 2-2, but came through on penalties.

However, they go into the Final off the back of two straight league defeats, including a 1-0 home defeat to second placed Newhaven, after a six-game winning run prior.

“We’re really calm, we do a lot of our work prior on the training pitch, so when the game comes I kind of know what we’re going to see already, so really confident, confident mood,” said Rouane.

On what cup victory would mean, Rouane said: “More so for the boys than me, as it’s a great chance for them to lift some silverware.

“It’s not very often you get to play in cup finals, and we have a lot of youngsters in the team, and players that have played the game for a long time that haven’t lifted silverware, so it’s a chance for them to have something to their name when they hang their boots up.

“Obviously it galvanises the squad and brings players together and it’s also good for the club.”

A win would top off a successful first six months in charge for Rouane, who took over in mid-October, and has guided his side to sixth in the Southern Combination Football League Premier Division, just outside the play-offs.

A win at Peacehaven & Telscombe on the final day will secure their place if other results go their way.

Rouane said: “It’s quite a newly formed team. When I came in there was a squad of around 19 people, but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t the squad I wanted to work with, and some of the players wanted to move on as well when the last manager was relieved of his duties.

“So, it was a case of me trying to use some of the boys available, which were a talented group, and adding to them what I thought we needed, and a way of playing, an identity, a philosophy, so I had to recruit certain players that I know could fit that mould. 

“So, it’s been quite a big upheaval and a change.”

Rouane was formerly manager of Lancing, and he said the familiar territory will suit his team’s playing style.

“Because of our style of play, the pitch is conducive to good football, so we’ll look to get on the ball and dominate possession, be aggressive on the counter-press when we lose the ball and play a high line and high-risk football.

“That’s how I like my teams to be set up, high-risk, high-reward.”

Rouane said forward Lewis Finney is a serious goal threat for Haywards Heath Town. The forward worked alongside Rouane at Lancing and scored 49 goals in the 2019-20 season for the club. He is a “high quality technical based player” according to his boss.

Haywards Heath also have Darius Goldsmith, a “very, very athletic, powerful footballer,” and central defender Josh Spinks, who has “been in really good form and carries the ball out well, really good in his build up play and is very composed and assured.”

It goes without saying that a great contest awaits when the two clubs meet this Saturday at Culver Road.

Entry prices are as follows (cash and card accepted):

£8.00 Adult (17+)
£6.00 Concession (66+ and students with valid student ID card)
£2.00 Child (16 and under)
Official Match Day Programme will be available online

For further details about the Sussex Principal RUR Charity Cup please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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