Sunday Challenge Cup Preview

Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup Final Preview

Woodingdean Wanderers vs. BN Dons

The final of the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup is due to take place on Thursday 25 January 2024 between Woodingdean Wanderers and BN Dons. 

Woodingdean Wanderers vs. BN Dons
Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup Final 
Date: Thursday 25 January 2024
Kick-off: 7.30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

Next week sees our County Cup Finals season kick-off with the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup Final between 2022 winners Woodingdean Wanderers and current holders, BN Dons.

For Woodingdean boss Thai Beebee, his association with the side is one that goes back longer than he cares to remember.

“I started out as a player for Woodingdean back when I was eight or nine years-old, and continued on for many years” said Beebee, “and then in terms of coaching, that all began with one of the youth teams, when I was about 16 years-old, until I turned 20.

“It was around this point I stopped working with the young teams to help get this side up and running, and we’re now into our fifth season.

“It really is a family affair as well for us, with my dad still really involved as Chairman, so it’s as a club Woodingdean Wanderers really means a lot to all of us.”

This season is shaping up to be another successful one with Beebee at the helm, with his side currently sitting in second spot in the Sussex Sunday Football League (SSFL), with a game in hand over leaders A.S. Crawley.

“The last two years have seen us come away with the league title,” said Beebee, “so if we can go on and win it once again, then I’d say it’s been another good season for this group that’s for sure. 

“If we can win this trophy and then the league once again, then it’ll certainly be another one we can be proud of.”

Of course, such a strong season can only be put down to an impressive team effort, but who would Beebee say among his squad could be the difference come next week’s final?

“It’s hard to say because we’ve got such a good group across the board,” said Beebee, “but in terms of standouts I’d have to mention James Waters, he’s been one of our best players, alongside our captain, Max Jeffery, as being ones could cause a lot of problems for Dons.

“But to be honest I could run through the whole team, I wouldn’t say there’s any real superstars, because we’ve got a really strong overall group for this level.”

As for their opponents on Thursday night, BN Dons, what does Beebee make of them and the kind of test they’ll bring?

“Last Sunday we met in the league and played out a 1-1 draw, but such was the nature of the pitch that it didn’t lend itself to a great game,” said Beebee, “but we’ve played each other every season for five years in a row now, so we know how they’re going to play and they know the game we’ll want to play.

“So overall, I think it’ll be a great contest, and we’re all looking forward to it, that’s for sure.”

In the opposing dugout will sit Charlie Brown of BN Dons, who’s hoping to ensure that the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup remains on display in the clubhouse for another year to come.

Like Beebee, Brown is no stranger to a Culver Road final, having played for the Dons reserve side in their Sunday Challenge Trophy defeat at the hands of Hove last season.

This season however has seen him make the step up to first team manager, with the Dons currently sitting in fourth in the SSFL.

“It’s been an interesting season that’s for sure,” said Brown, “the league has seen us play some good football, but off the pitch we’ve had to deal with a fair share of postponements, so it’s been a challenge to really build momentum.

“But this team has really shown its quality in the cups, with three still up for grabs for us before the end of the season, which is great for the boys.”

The success of the team is in no small part down to the goal scoring of forward Harley Damario, who’s 18 goals in the league marks him out as the one for Woodingdean to watch out for.

“Goals win you games,” said Brown, “and Harley’s been really good again this season, and then at the other end of the pitch, our back four has been really strong and really consistent in helping to make us tough to break down.”

Such defensive solidity will be needed come Thursday, when Brown’s side will be tested against Woodingdean once again.

“The 1-1 draw last week was both a tough game for the boys to play in, and a tougher watch for the neutral that’s for sure!”

“Every time we play them it’s usually tight and tense and you could feel that last weekend, so I’m expecting much the same come the final; but I’m hoping we can play our football and show what we’re about.

“Because we’ve played each other so often, we’ve got a nice little rivalry going, where they always seem to get the better of us in the league, but when it comes to the cups it’s a different story, so we’ll be hoping for more of the same next week.”

Of course, for Brown an added advantage is that he’s bringing with him a mostly unchanged squad from that which triumphed over A.S. Crawley in the final last season.

“Every player in our squad has been in these situations and has seen big games over the line, and in these tight cup finals, that can really be the difference,” said Brown.

Alongside this experience, Brown is also counting on a strong contingent of family and friends to make the trip over to Lancing to cheer them on.

“The support we’ve had throughout the season has meant the world to us, and has really made the difference,” he said.

“When you’re playing, in every game there are tough moments, and hearing that noise from the stands can really help get you over the line, so I’m looking forward to seeing plenty of familiar faces on the night!”

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 Sunday Challenge Cup please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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