Women's Trophy HERO

Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy Final Preview

Eastbourne Town vs. Saltdean United Development

The final of the Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy is due to take place on Sunday 3 March 2024 between Eastbourne Town and Saltdean United. 

Eastbourne Town vs. Saltdean United Development
Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy Final 
Date: Sunday 3 March 2024
Kick-off: 3.30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

They say two heads are always better than one, and Eastbourne Town will certainly be hoping that’s the case, when managers Danielle Parfitt and Sarah Da Silva take to the dugout on Sunday afternoon.

Whilst from the outside looking in, the two managers dynamic can be sometimes hard to fathom, for Parfitt and Da Silva, it’s simply a natural progression of their roles at the club.

“For me and Dani it’s really just been a case of carrying on what we’d already been doing in our years at the club,” said Da Silva.

“We already knew we worked really well together, so when our manager left, we just naturally took on these roles and decided to work together to help the rest of the team as much as possible.

“In terms of roles, I deal more with the committee, whereas for Dani, as team captain, she’s a lot more involved with looking after the girls, so it’s come together quite nicely.

“The main thing is the girls all know that they can come and talk to either of us about anything, and that we’re here for them.”

Understandably, with a managerial change thrown in the mix, it’s been a difficult season for Eastbourne Town, with the club currently sitting sixth in the Sussex County Women & Girls’ Football League Premier Division.

“It’s been a difficult season there’s no doubt about that,” said Parfitt, “and even with the change in manager, I’d still say the main problem has been the fact that through one reason or another we’ve lost about half our squad this season.

“Injuries have played their part, but there’s also the fact that a lot of our players work as nurses, prison officers or physios, and the nature of such shift work is that they can’t always be available.

“We’re also a mature team, so we don’t get the benefit of a great influx of youth players who finish school and have all the time in the world to play football.

“So, for us this season has very much been about keeping it tight and then at the end of the season looking to potentially rebuild and really bring some energy into the team.”

Despite this though, both are keen to highlight the players that they see as being the real difference makers come Sunday afternoon.

“Each individual brings their own spice to this team,” said Da Silva, “and there are some that can really cause the opposition problems.

“Upfront, if Geri Burt is firing on all cylinders, then she is a real handful, and then you’ve got the likes of Lucia Law at the back who’s just a wall of a defender and Molly Peacock who’ll run through walls and chase anyone down for you!”

That talent in the side has been clear to see in Eastbourne Town’s run to the final, with the side beating Brighton Seagals 4-0 in the Quarter-Final and Woodingdean Wanderers 3-0 in the Semi-Final.

“The game against Seagals was particularly tough,” said Parfitt, “we’d seen them play before and they’re a really hard side to break down and have a real threat going forward, so we knew we’d need to score a couple at least to be sure of the result.

“Likewise, Woodingdean are also a really strong outfit this season, having brought in a lot of new players that have really turned up and performed for them.

“So again, a tough test for us, and they put up a good fight, but our girls showed up, put in the work and got us to the final.”

Speaking of the Final, just what kind of test are Da Silva and Parfitt expecting from fellow England Football Accredited club Saltdean United?

“We’re under no illusions that Saltdean are going to be a real test for us,” said Da Silva.

“They’re young, energetic, quick and they’re certainly not going to run out of batteries like we are!

“We know they’ll be at 110%, so the challenge for us will be to match that and try and cause an upset!”

Looking to prevent said upset is Saltdean United manager, Joe McTiffen.

For McTiffen’s side, their run to the final has been an exhibition in clinical finishing, starting off with a 7-0 win over Eastbourne Borough, followed by a 5-0 win over Worthing Town and a 6-0 Semi-Final victory over Oakwood.

“It’s been a great season for us, and it’s been made possible by the great group of players we’ve got this year,” said McTiffen.

“We won the league a couple of weeks ago, and in both the league and the cup we’ve only lost once, so it’s been an incredible run, and to have not conceded in our whole cup run so far is something we’re really proud of.”

According to McTiffen, the success of his team this season is something he partly puts down to the strong mindset that exists among his young side.

“Going into the campaign we knew our goals were to win the league and to make it to a cup final,” said McTiffen, “and that’s something they’ve been working towards with a real drive and dedication, which has been great to see.”

Of course, whilst it’s been a phenomenal team effort to get Saltdean to where they are, who would McTiffen mark out as those players who could help get their hands on silverware on Sunday?

“One player who has been outstanding is our winger Maya Pritchard, who takes games by the scruff of the neck and really looks to make an impact for us,” said McTiffen.

“Then in midfield you’ve got out captain Emily Towner, who’s something of the mum of the group even though she’s only 24 years of age, but when the average age of the side is 18 years-old, I suppose that’s to be expected!

“But in this team, we’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of passion, so it’s been a privilege to coach them this season.”

For McTiffen, him and Saltdean United go way back, having first joined the club as player and then going on to found and manage the women’s team at the club in 2017, coaching them for five years before moving his focus to the development squad at the end of last season, incorporating players he was coaching over at BHASVIC.

“We’ve got 40 girls signed onto the senior squad at the club, along with three youth teams, and the fact that in 2017 there wasn’t a single women’s team, makes that growth even more remarkable,” he said.

“To see some of the girls I’ve been coaching at the college and in the development squad go onto play for the first team is also a really great feeling, it shows the rest of them that, if they put in the work, that pathway is open to them, and that puts the club in a great position going forward.”

Looking to the more immediate future though, just what kind of game is McTiffen expecting from Eastbourne Town on Sunday?

“They’re a very experienced side, really organised and in the league at the start of the season we were going toe-to-toe with them, so they know how we like to play and vice-versa,” he said.

“But it’s a cup final, and in those games nothing that’s come before in the league matters, simply because anything can happen.

“So, we’ll need to be ready, and mentally, we're going to need to start from scratch and be prepared for the challenge come Sunday.”

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 Trophy please contact:

T: 01903 753547
E: Competitions@SussexFA.com

Related News

View All