Ifield vs. Ovingdean

Dominant Ovingdean Win Junior Cup

Words by Kieran Wiggs
Ifield 3-7 Ovingdean

An Af Williams hat-trick inspired Ovingdean to a remarkable comeback victory over Ifield in the Sussex Junior Challenge Cup yesterday evening at Culver Road.

Despite being 3-1 down when added time was announced just before half-time, Daley Clark’s stoppage time goal changed the mood going in the dressing room for Ovingdean to put on a stunning second-half display in the ten-goal thriller.

The first big chance of the game fell in the path of Williams when he looked to take full advantage of a poor back pass, but saw his effort pushed wide by Connor Wicks before he impressively stopped George McMahon’s rebound dead on the line. 

Rising to the occasion for Ifield was Preston Jackson, who opened the scoring with a fierce towering header as he connected with Glen Carr’s left footed cross from the edge of the box. 

Only minutes later, Jackson stung Ovingdean with a second when he coolly finished past George Hatton. The credit however was on the shoulders of the young Sean Blu Olsen who did incredibly well, showing great skill and strength to torment the Ovingdean backline before setting up Jackson’s brace. 

Responding responsibly was the skipper, Williams, who was found through on goal and made his way past Wicks with what seemed to be a heavy touch. But despite the tight angle and Ifield men on the line, he calmly picked his spot and met his target with perfection to half the deficit. 

As Ovingdean found their feet in the final, Olsen, who had shown what he was made of early in the game, made matters worse for Ovingdean. The youngster met Carr’s forward-thinking ball with a clinical finish to give Ifield what looked to be a stable lead before the half-time whistle.

However, Clark latched onto Sam Harmer’s free-kick in a stoppage time scramble, which made its way into the back of the net. This only set up what was to be a special second-half for those in orange. 

Completing the comeback only minutes into the restart, Ovingdean found the leveller through Bill Geard’s poked finish from close range in a crowded penalty box. 

Ovingdean then took the lead for the first time in the game with the seventh goal at Culvar Road, when a Williams ball found Rob Salaita one-on-one with Wicks and his powerful strike was proved to be unstoppable for the goalkeeper. 

Looking to add to the tally, Geard produced a well-timed sliding challenge in Ifield’s penalty area connecting with the ball well enough to find George McMahon on the edge of the box for a prime chance, which he was disappointed to see waft over the bar. 

Williams led by example for Ovingdean throughout the game, and produced a fine finish to give his side their fifth as trophy hopes began to slide away from Ifield. 

The skipper achieved his heroic hat-trick when an Ifield clearance found McMahon on the edge of the box and instead of shooting, this time he played a perfect first-time ball to Williams who was left unmarked in the penalty area and calmy fired past Wicks.

The goals kept on coming for Ovingdean and it concluded with McMahon striking their seventh in what rounded off a remarkable second-half performance. 

Speaking after the full-time whistle, the Ovingdean coaching staff said: “The crucial goal was our second before half-time, if we had gone in 3-1 down, heads might have been dropped. But scoring then and straight after half-time to come back to 3-3 we were on the up and they were on the down. I think we were the better side.

“It is great for a team in the Brighton League to win the cup. The club has been going on for over 20 years now, and we have always entered the County Cup, but we have never got to the final before, so this is absolutely massive for us.”

On Williams, they added: “He is brilliant. He can play at a much higher level, but he loves playing with his mates. That is his third hat-trick in three games, and he even scored one in the semi-final. He is on fire and that really inspires the lads!”

Ifield vs. Ovingdean
Ifield vs. Ovingdean - 18-04-24
Highlights from the Sussex Junior Challenge Cup Final - powered by Your Instant Replay!

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)

Stats (Ifield-Ovingdean): Goals (3-7), Shots (8-22), Shots on target (6-12), Corners (2-3), Fouls (9-5), Offsides (0-4), Yellow cards (1-1), Red cards (0-0).

Ifield: Wicks (GK), White, Jones-Pace, Jones-Pace, Clancy, Barrow, Wilson (C), Jackson, Olsen, Carr, Hewlett
Subs: Clarke, Harcourt, Nixon, Browning, Codabaccus

Ovingdean: Hatton (GK), Finn, Harmer, Clark, Golding, Williams (C), McMahon, Geard, Salaita, Smith, Russell
Subs: Morley (GK) Blair, Williamson, Joyce, Sieniawski

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