Dom Di Paola HERO

Di Paola looks to break Horsham Senior Cup hoodoo

Steyning Town Community vs. Horsham

The first semi-final of the Sussex Transport Senior Cup is set to be played on Tuesday 27 February 2024 between Steyning Town Community and Horsham.

Steyning Town Community vs. Horsham
Sussex Transport Senior Cup Semi-Final
Date: Tuesday 27 February 2024
Kick-off: 7:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

If there’s any side in Sussex renowned for their cup runs this season, it’s Dominic Di Paola’s Horsham.

Whilst their remarkable FA Cup journey might have come to an end, the chance to make history in Sussex Transport Senior Cup still awaits them, as they prepare to take on Steyning Town Community at Culver Road next week.

Their journey to the Semi-Final has been an exhibition in clinical finishing, with Di Paola’s men racking up 14 goals in the competition so far.

“Whilst the scoreline tells one story, those games in the early rounds did prove a test for us, that’s for sure,” said Di Paola.

“Going into the Chichester City game, we were coming off the back of our FA Cup escapades, so it was a test for the lads to park those emotions and deliver on the night, so I was really pleased with the way we went about that win.

“Then the game against Eastbourne United, which was played on one of the coldest nights of my life, and in such conditions there’s a chance that you don’t turn up, but the boys put in another great performance to see us through.”

Of course, these cup runs have brought with them a congested fixture schedule for the Hornets, with two games a week proving the norm for the West Sussex side.

Yet there’s been no sign of a let up from Horsham, with Di Paola putting that down to the mentality of his side.

“We’ve got a close group with a really good attitude,” he said, “these boys have really bought into what we’re trying to do, and it’s not been easy for them, balancing work and football, but they’ve kept going and have been excellent.”

And in terms of the difference makers in the side, who would Di Paola point to?“

Every player has played a role in helping this team really push on,” he said, “but in terms of these cup games I’d say both Jack Strange in defence and Daniel Ajakaiye have really stood out.

“Our captain Jack Brivio has also been a real asset once again, this time in coming in at centre-half when we’ve needed to deal with injuries.

“But across the board each player has really stepped up, because in a season like this where we’re shuffling and rotating so much, we’ve needed each of them to do just that for us.”

For Di Paola, this year marks his ninth at the club, a near decade of involvement that has seen its fair share of change at Horsham.

“When I joined back then, the club was effectively homeless, there were no players left, and they’d just been relegated back into the County League,” he said.

“Financially, the club was also really struggling, having to keep renting various grounds to be able to play.

“But from being where we were to where we are now, having moved into the new ground and starting to get some really big crowds, we’ve really grown as a club, which has been great to see, and seasons like this make that hard work really worthwhile.”

Looking to the future though, and next week’s Semi-Final clash with Steyning, Di Paola is under no illusions that Kevin Green’s Barrowmen will be a tough test for his side.

“They’re having a great season, and I’d back them to go on and win that league,” he said, “you look at who they’ve had to beat to get to the Semi-Final, the likes of Burgess Hill and of course Brighton & Hove Albion.

“I know their players, so I know the quality they have, and there’s a fair few that are better than their level, so we know it’s going to be a tough game.

“You don’t get easy Semi-Finals, and I’m sure they’ll be looking at the game as a great opportunity to get to a final, just as we are.”

Yet of course, there’s added pressure on the shoulders of Di Paola, as he looks to try and get his side to their first Sussex Transport Senior Cup final in nearly 20 years.

“Personally, I’ve got to the Semi-Final a few times over the years, so I’m desperate for us to get over the line next week,” he said.

“For the club as well it’s also a massive chance to make it back to the final, and potentially go on and lift a trophy we’ve not won since the 1970s.

“But one thing we have in this group is winners, and with that mentality and that experience I back us every day of the week against any opponent!”

Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):

£12.00 Adult (17+)
£8.00 Concession (66+ and students with valid student ID card)
£3.00 Child (16 and under)
Official Match Day Programme will be available online

For further details about the Sussex Transport Senior Cup please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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