C P Mason HERO

Sussex C P Mason Cup Final (Under-14s) Preview

Words by Luke Ashbery
Hastings United vs. AS Eastbourne

The final of the Sussex C P Mason Cup (Under-14s) is set to be played on Sunday 28 April 2024 between Hastings United and AS Eastbourne.

Hastings United vs. AS Eastbourne
Sussex C P Mason Cup Final (Under-14s)
Date: Sunday 28 April 2024
Kick-off: 2:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA. Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX 

Sean Ray, the Hastings United manager, was full of praise for his team after reaching the County Cup Final for the second season running and he is hoping that they can add another trophy to their cabinet. 

“It’s a good achievement to get to one County Cup Final but to get there two years in a row is a phenomenal effort,” said Ray, “it’s testament to the players that yet again they have got back to this stage.

“The boys are excited for the Final, so it’s great to be back again and hopefully we’ll be able to perform like last year to defend our crown.” 

Ray was honest in his assessment that their run to the Final was by no means a formality, saying: “We had some comfortable games early on, and then in the Quarter-Final, we played Horsham away which was a tough game, but we managed to win 2-0.

“The Semi-Final against Patcham was also a real battle, and the game could have gone either way, with neither team deserving to lose, but thankfully we got through on penalties.”

Hastings are also sitting nicely in the league and have several games in hand due to their cup run. 

Ray emphasised that the quality throughout their squad was the reason for their success, rather than an over-reliance on a couple of star players. 

 “On their day all our players are match winners, whether it’s the goalkeeper or the centre-forward, we have good players throughout the team, and they all play as a unit.

“If we turn up and play to the best of our ability it takes a very good team to beat us”, said Ray. 

He added: “I’ve got all 18 players fit for the Final, but we can only name 16 in the squad, so, unfortunately, two players won’t be able to play. 

“It’s a horrible task but they will still be coming along as they deserve to be there as well.”

Despite his confidence, Ray was under no illusions about the threat AS Eastbourne would pose, expressing: “I always expect a tough test against AS Eastbourne, they have been an established club for a while now and they are renowned in the local area for the quality of players they produce and the way they play football. 

“Their manager is very experienced and a good coach, so it will not be an easy game.”

And what will Ray’s final words to the players be before they walk out at Culver Road? 

“I’ll be telling them to express themselves, that’s what has got us to the Final and the players just need to go out and perform their roles to the best of their abilities.

“For the last two years, it has worked for us, so if the players prepare properly, I am confident. 

“Us as coaches are excited as well as the parents, but it is just the case of keeping them calm, they do not need any extra external pressure”, said Ray.

One side who know all about the pressure of a Cup Final, is Anthony Storey’s AS Eastbourne.

Yet to make it to the Final this weekend, they had to overcome some strong opposition on the way.

“Looking back at our run, I’d have to say that the Quarter-Final against Eastbourne Borough stands out as probably our hardest test,” said Storey.

“We got the 1-0 win and set us up really well for the Semi-Final against Hove Rivervale, where we really found our groove and we got the job done.

“We’ve got a really good team this year and everyone has grown massively, and they’ve all played a big part in getting us to the Final.”

Going since 2008, Storey’s AS Eastbourne side is made up of a number of players who’ve grown up with the team, making the Final an extra special occasion.

“We’ve added a couple of plays here and there each year, but for the most part it’s the same core group we’ve had for a number of years now,” said Storey.

“We’re all just delighted with the group and delighted with the development we’ve seen from all of them.”

Away from their cup run, it’s been a solid season in the Mid Sussex Youth Football League, with Story’s side sitting in second place.

“It’s been a good season, the weather hasn’t been our friend though, with a fair few games being called off here and there, but the boys have been great staying focused, which is a credit to them,” said Storey.

Looking ahead to the big day, what kind of contest is Storey is expecting?

“I think for us it’s just going to be about concentrating on doing what we do best, because our main aim is always to play our own game the best we can, and in doing so, staying focused on what we want to achieve,” said Storey.

“From our end, the message to the players is just to enjoy the occasion, because we’re just there to support them and make sure they get the most out of it they 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 C P Mason Cup (Under-14s) please contact:

T: 01903 753547
E: Competitions@SussexFA.com

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