Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation vs. Newhaven Deaf

Newhaven Deaf lift inaugural Matt Major Cup

Words by Jamie Spoor
Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation 1-2 Newhaven Deaf

Newhaven Deaf made history at Culver Road yesterday afternoon as Mark White’s side came from behind to ultimately prevail against Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation in the very first Sussex Matt Major Disability Cup Final.

In a nine-a-side match played in scorching conditions, the East Sussex side prevailed in our newest cup competition, named after late chairman, and disability football advocate, Matt Major.

Newhaven were pushed all the way by Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation though, who had threatened to cause a shock having gone ahead after five minutes.

But Newhaven, spearheaded by two of the county’s most prominent deaf players in 35-goal David Lambert and former Great Britian player Lee Farrell, underlined their status as favorites with a strong showing throughout. 

Indeed, Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation were indebted to the exploits of their keeper David Miller, who’s heroics ensure his side always had a way back into the game.

Cup Finals can often be tight and cagey, and this one was no different, with both sides getting a feel of their opponents and the occasion early on, but with this contest played over 50 minutes, the tempo soon ramped up. 

The opening goal came from the game’s first attack after four minutes. It was started and finished by the Brighton captain Mustapha Cham as his pressing saw the ball come loose, and the forward made no mistake with a powerful finish from close range. 

Ten minutes later though and Newhaven were level. 

Star striker, the aforementioned Lambert, did all the hard work as he slalomed his way through the defence and clipped his effort over the advancing Miller. The Dockers onrushing captain Connor Pointing had followed Lambert’s run and merely had to apply the finishing touch as he tapped in over the line.

Lambert’s goalscoring ability and class was obvious as, having already claimed an assist, he then grabbed a goal to complete a quickfire turnaround on 19 minutes.

He had gone close with a shot from distance shortly before, but made no mistake this time, as Jay Stally’s throw-in caused chaos and Lambert leaped highest to power home his header. 

Newhaven, English Deaf Community Football League winners in their debut season, came on strong and almost extended their lead on the cusp of half-time. 

Lambert collected the ball on the counterattack, cut inside and fired towards goal only for Miller to save superbly with an outstretched leg. 

For all their pressure and intent, whilst only one goal ahead Newhaven’s lead was far from secure and so it proved as Brighton carved out their best opening, since scoring, in the 34th minute.

Raking long throws were becoming a feature of the final. White’s side had scored from one and this time it was Luke Frost’s team who went close from a throw in into the box. 

Finley Burrows found the head of his teammate, substitute Paul Bartlett, and his downward header evaded everyone only to hit the outside of the post and allow Newhaven to get it clear.

Lambert’s ongoing duel with Brighton’s last line of defence had become a running theme and it was the goalkeeper to his side’s rescue again with a remarkable double save. 

First, Miller got down low to turn away Lambert’s snapshot and then showed cat-like reflexes to somehow keep out Pointing’s follow up effort.

There was still time for one more heroic intervention from Miller, this time to deny Paighton Gibson, but despite a couple of late half chances for Brighton, Newhaven were not to be denied.

Having come through round robin qualifying en route to Culver Road glory, manager White paid tribute to his side after they were crowned the competition’s first winners.

He said: “Winning any competition is special, but this one is particularly amazing because it’s our first ever season as a team. To also be the first winners of this cup is a great experience for the players, and to have our names as the first ones to lift it, is just brilliant.

“We knew we’d need to be strong, we had to make a few in-game changes to our side from what we had planned to respond to what Brighton did, and had to decide how much risk we were wanted to takebut all the players reacted well and adapted to this and didn’t let these issues affect them. 

He added: “The Foundation gave us a very tough game, their goalkeeper was excellent but we did our jobs and I have no doubt we deserved to win. It’s a great day for myself, my coaches, my players, and the club as a whole. Now we’re looking forward to coming back next year and trying to win this again!” 

Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation vs. Newhaven Deaf
Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation vs. Newhaven Deaf 12-05-24
Highlights from the Sussex Matt Major Disability Cup Final - Powered by Your Instant Replay!

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)

Stats (Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation-Newhaven): Goals (1-2); Shots (5-9); On Target (2-7), Corners (2-5), Offsides (1-2); Fouls (6-3); Yellow cards (0-0), Red cards (0-0).

Brighton & Hove Albion Foundation: Miller (GK), Brickell, Skuza, Spicer, Green, Burrows, Cham (C), Ovenden, Savin. 
Subs: Coupland, Melta, Bartlett, Bridger, Reeves, Moore

Newhaven Deaf: Austen (GK), McCann, Greaves-Lord, Stally, Jackson, Pointing (C), Gibson, Farrell, Lambert. 
Subs: Carter, Thomas, Ali, Milner. 

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