Sunday, 19 May 2013

Brighton and Hove Albion 4 v 0 Bognor Regis Town

Saturday 18th May 2013
Sussex Senior Cup Final
Brighton Community Stadium, Falmer
Admission: £10.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 2435
Match Rating: 3

With games becoming increasingly thin on the ground, I had planned to take in a Middlesex County League game today, however a few days before I decided that I would rather stay more local and chose to book tickets for the Sussex Senior Cup Final at Brighton and Hove Albion’s home stadium in Falmer, even though this would mean a revisit for me.

Unsurprisingly, not much has changed with the stadium since I visited last season, although the corners have now sensibly been filled with seating, and for today’s match, only the West Lower stand was open. I also noticed this time a nice touch outside the ground, a small memorial garden paying respects to players and supporters who passed away during the two World Wars. The programme was surprisingly very good, a 40 page publication in full colour with an abundance of information about both teams, this season’s competition as well as the history of the competition, and other readable articles, all for a very reasonable price.

Today’s match would be between the Development team of Brighton and Hove Albion and Bognor Regis Town first team, who finished in 14th place in the 22 team Isthmian League Premier Division. So, a tough assignment for Bognor, up against young professionals, some of which have had first team experience, not to mention the fact that this would be Bognor’s first competitive game in three weeks since the end of their league season.  To reach today’s final, Brighton, who were looking for their fifth Sussex Senior Cup title in seven seasons and eleventh in total, had beaten Worthing 2-0 at home, Lancing 0-5 away, Three Bridges 2-0 at home and finally East Preston 3-2 away. Bognor Regis Town also have an excellent pedigree in this competition, having won the competition eight times, including five consecutive triumphs in the early eighties, although they have not lifted the Cup since 1987. Their route to today’s final saw them beat Selsey 0-5 away, Eastbourne United 3-4 away, an impressive 3-1 home victory against Conference South side Eastbourne Borough, and finally 2-1 at home to Hastings United.

On a dry and occasionally sunny afternoon, the occasion really seemed to get to the Bognor players, as they were completely outplayed in the opening half hour and then proceeded to gift the game to Brighton. On 12 minutes, Brighton deservedly took the lead when the ball was sprayed out to the left wing, and Torbjorn Adgestein dribbled the ball into the box before curling it low past the keeper and into the net. Completely against the run of play, Bognor were awarded a soft looking penalty on 29 minutes when Dan Kempson seemed to go down very easily under pressure, but Ollie Pearce placed his shot low wide of the left hand post. This actually seemed to inspire the Bognor players, roared on by their vociferous fans who were in the majority in the crowd, and Bognor had their best spell of the game up to half time and threatened on several occasions to equalise, but at half time, Brighton retained their narrow one goal lead.

Unfortunately for Bognor, their good work was unravelled within 20 seconds of the restart. Adgestein dispossessed a Bognor player at the edge of the centre circle then raced unopposed towards goal, before calming slotting the ball past the keeper for 2-0. This really seemed to deflate the Bognor players as their heads seemed to go down and the result was in no doubt from this point forward. On 52 minutes, another Bognor mistake resulted in a third goal for Brighton. One of their defenders was dispossessed rather too easily on the edge of the box and the ball was taken forward to the byline before being crossed by Adgestein low inside the six yard box and was tapped in by George Barker. On the hour mark, a suicidal backpass by a Bognor defender only just reached his keeper, whose clearance hit Adgestein and the ball rebounded towards goal but dropped just wide of the post. On 76 minutes, Brighton did score a fourth with a very well worked goal. The ball was sprayed out to the left wing for a Brighton player to gallop onto, outpacing the right back, taking the ball towards the byline before pulling the ball back to the edge of the area for Adgestein to take his time before placing the ball low past the keeper for his hat-trick. Brighton could and perhaps should have scored a couple more, but a bad defeat would have been unfortunate on the underdogs on their big day out. Whilst Bognor’s poor performance on the day might have been due in part to the long time since their league season ended, credit to the Sussex County FA for scheduling the final at the end of the season, on a Saturday when no other games were being players, and at a showpiece venue, and it was pleasing to see them rewarded with an excellent attendance far in excess of what one might expect these days for a county cup final.

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