EAST Preston Football Club were denied the treble last night when they lost the final of the Sussex RUR Cup on penalties to Horsham YMCA at Lancing’s Culver Road ground.
YM won 5-4 on spot-kicks after the game finished scoreless after extra-time to land the trophy for the first time since 2001 and deny East Preston the treble.
EP, the County League champions, had won the John O’Hara Cup two days earlier and were the reigning RUR Cup champions, after they had defeated Broadbridge Heath 1-0 in last year’s final.
East Preston began the final at Culver Road brightly as Shaheen Sadough lobbed over from 25 yards when clean through on two minutes. Then YM keeper Simon Lockwood was quick off his line to deny Joe Shelley on six minutes, before Darren Boswell then fired well wide when Shelley laid the ball back to him.
Both sides looked to get the ball down and play, although clear chances were few and far between in the opening half-an-hour.
YM went close on 32 minutes when Nick Sullivan laid the ball back for Brad Curtis, whose well-hit shot from 20 yards was pushed behind by EP keeper Joel Harding, diving full-stretch to his right.
In the first minute of injury-time at the end of the first half, EP almost opened the scoring. Shelley slotted Sadough through and he rolled his shot under Lockwood but Adam O’Carroll got back to hook the ball off the line and on to the bar, before the danger was cleared.
East Preston began the second half on the front foot and Lockwood denied Sadough on 46 minutes, before Boswell’s inswinging cross flew off the head of YM defender Matthew Crane and came back off a post.
Sadough then went through one-on-one on the hour but his shot rolled inches wide of the far post.
Chances remained at a premium until Nick Sullivan latched on to Curtis’ flick, raced between EP’s central defenders and crashed a left-footed effort just the wrong side of the post from 20 yards on 83 minutes.
Into extra-time, a goalmouth scramble from YMCA’s Dan Sullivan’s corner was cleared off the line, before EP had a golden chance to go ahead on 109 minutes.
Boswell got clear down the right and crossed for unmarked substitute Rob Boddy, whose first effort was brilliantly saved by Lockwood, before the rebound was cleared off the line by Crane.
The match went to penalties and the first four spot-kicks from EP’s Alex Duncan and Shelley and YM’s Luke Gedling and Curtis were all successful.
East Preston substitute Tom Levitt stepped up for the next spot-kick but his low effort was saved by Lockwood, before Nick Sullivan gave YM the advantage.
EP’s Kevin Keehan and Boswell and YM captain David Brown were all successful, which left Dan Sullivan to step up to win the cup for YM.
He coolly converted to the delight of boss Peter Buckland, who said afterwards: “I said before that if we win tonight it caps off the season and I’m absolutely delighted for everyone.
“It’s something to build on as we’ve been under-achieving for too long and watch this space for next season. This is just the beginning.”
EP boss Dominic Di Paola said: “It just wasn’t our day. We’ve had a lot of days this year but today it wasn’t.
“I’m not disappointed, though. What more could we have done? We couldn’t have really done any more. We dominated the game, I think they had one shot, while we’ve had four or five good chances.
“You couldn’t tell we’d played two days earlier, which is testament to the boys. They’ve run themselves into the ground, so I feel sorry for the lads.”
EAST PRESTON: Harding; Duncan, Pullan, Farmer, Axell; Boswell, Barnard, Keehan, Shelley; Oatway; Sadough. Subs: Boddy (Sadough 86), Levitt (Oatway 105), Gainsford, Fogden, O’Hagan.
HORSHAM YMCA: Lockwood; D.Sullivan, Crane, Burgess, O’Carroll; Brown, Hunter, Curtis, Gedling, Evans; N.Sullivan. Subs: Wood (Evans 64), Brown (Hunter 109), Gannon, Leslie, Smith.