Sussex Girls' Challenge Cup (Under-16s) HERO

Sussex Girls' Challenge Cup Final (Under-16s) Preview

Lewes vs. Pevensey & Westham

The final of the Sussex Girls’ Challenge Cup (Under-16s) is set to be played on Sunday 10 March 2024 between Lewes and Pevensey & Westham.

Lewes vs. Pevensey & Westham
Sussex Girls’ Challenge Cup Final (Under-16s)
Date: Sunday 17 March 2024
Kick-off: 2:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

For Tim Heal’s Lewes, it’s been a cup run of impressive results, and in Heal’s eyes, even more impressive performances, as his side progressed to the final following a 5-2 win over Haywards Heath Town and a 9-0 win over Bognor Regis Town.

“For me, what was great about those games was that we were able to experiment with formations and tactics that the girls’ hadn’t been tested with yet,” said Heal.

“We’re lucky to have players who want to try different things and want to score different types of goals; so in those games we not only scored impressive individual goals, but also ones that came from great team build up play.

“This season overall has been a big learning curve for the players, be that in terms of things like changing shape and formation mid-game and implementing that in the final third or trying new roles as individuals, so it’s been great to see them take all that on board and be developing the way they are.”

With a depth of talent to call upon, when pressed for players to keep an eye on during the final on Sunday, Heal is typically diplomatic.

“It’s so hard to pick out individuals in this side, because they have all really shown such quality over the season,” said Heal.

“From the cup run, any of our forwards could be highlighted, because simply from a goalscoring standpoint, they’ve been excellent, and they each bring something different to the team.

“Across the board we’ve had players who’ve really impressed, so we’re definitely fortunate to have them all, that’s for sure.”

For Heal, this season marks his third with the Rooks, and as such, a good group of his current squad have been coached by him since he joined.

“It’s been probably the nicest thing to see the players develop, not just on the pitch, but as people off the pitch, over these last few years,” said Heal.

“To see them preparing themselves to take that first step in senior football, and in some cases start to make that step, makes every session and all the hours planning 100% worthwhile, and if anything, more determined to help as many of them make that next move as possible.”

Taking away the cup run, it’s still been an impressive season for Lewes, made even more so by the fact that Heal’s side are competing in a boy’s league for the first time.

“It’s been a really good season but a tough one, with the kind of games they’re playing now really testing them,” said Heal, “but from day one of pre-season to now, to see how far they’ve come is so impressive.

“For some players, the way they’ve coped with the challenges we’ve put in front of them, makes the progress they’ve made and the level they’ve reached, even more gratifying to see.”

Looking ahead to the final against Pevensey & Westham, just what kind of contest is Heal expecting them to bring?

“It’ll be a tough game that’s for sure,” said Heal, “we know a few players who started with us and have then joined them over at Pevensey.

“There’ll be plenty of goals I don’t doubt, so it’ll be an entertaining watch, but it’s a great opportunity for us to look to push on and show authority over a team of that quality in that environment.

“These games are the perfect chance to give the girls an idea of what it’s like to be a professional player, in terms of the internal pressure that they’ll be putting themselves under, so it’ll be a great learning experience for them that’s for sure.

“So, we’ll be telling them that, when they go out on the pitch, if they put out the best version of themselves, and give everything for their team, the result will take care of itself.”

Standing in their way on Sunday afternoon is Luke Davies’ Pevensey & Westham, an England Football Accredited Club, who’s free scoring form saw them net 25 times on their way to the final.

“It’s been an interesting cup run that’s for sure!” said Davies.

“Our game against Polegate in the first round definitely stands out, and not because of the scoreline, but because it was the first time I was able to see real progression in the side, and the new tactics being implemented by the players.

“By the time the game against Eastbourne Borough in the semi-finals came around, we’d been together as a group a lot longer, and so to put in a strong performance, especially against a local rival, was even more satisfying.”

For Davies, he’s got a small but tight squad at his disposal, with most having played together since they were nine years-old.

But in that group are players who, in Davies eyes are capable of really being the difference against Lewes in the final.

“We had a bit of change over the summer, but that saw a few players join us, including our now captain, Amelia Sandys, who’s been a really key player for us since she came into the side.

“We also gained Lily Rae, who’s also stood out for all the right reasons in the centre of midfield, and doesn’t seem to have a stop button!

“But what we promote is that it’s not one individual that will win us a game, with goals coming from all over the side, and that same collective mindset is also seen in the fact that when we have to defend, we do so as one unit.

“This is something that comes from us being a smaller squad, because I know that every player in that side will work their socks off for every other player on that pitch.”

For Davies, it’s certainly been a first season with the club to remember, as away from their cup run, his side currently sit in second in the Sussex County Women and Girls’ Football League, just a point behind leaders Withdean Youth.

“When I came in at the start of the season, the main thing we wanted to do was help create an atmosphere that was relaxed and one where the girls would be able to enjoy their football,” said Davies.

“The results we’ve been getting have all been down to their hard work though, and the way they’ve come together as a team, they’re just getting better and better every week.

“Each player has bought into that team ethos and the way we want to play, so they know that on the pitch, if they make a mistake and give the ball away, they know one of their friends will be there to help them out.”

That sense of team spirit is going to be a vital asset as Davies’ side prepare to take on Lewes this Sunday.

“We’re expecting a higher level of opposition to what we’ve faced this season that’s for sure,” said Davies, “we’re a grassroots community club and Lewes are a side that have gone through trials to get their players and will be able to train more regularly and more rigorously than we do.

“That being said, some of the girls I have might have gone for trials and not been selected, so they’ll have a point to prove that’s for sure.”
With that in mind then, what message will Davies be imparting before kick-off to his side?

“Stick together, do what you’ve learned and what you know, work hard for each other, keep your heads high and remember that I’m proud of them no matter what happens!”

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 Girls’ Challenge Cup (Under-16s) please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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