After penalty wins for both teams in the Semi-Finals, the Rebels met the Rocks at the AMEX Stadium in the Final of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup.
It was Harrison Male’s penalty heroics that earned the Reds their place in the Cup final, saving three penalties against Hastings United last time out. However, Male was out with a rib injury for the Final. His deputy on the weekend, Alieu Secka, was also unavailable for the Reds as he was cup-tied, which meant that 17-year-old Will Tillman made his Worthing debut between the sticks.
Bognor went closest early on after Sam De St Croix earned his side a free-kick on the edge of the box. Calvin Davies stepped up to take it and struck a low, bending effort which went narrowly wide of the far post.
In a cagey contest, it was another quarter of an hour before the next real chance which came from Jesse Starkey’s free kick on the right of the box. He whipped a delightful ball into Joe Rye at the far post who headed onto the woodwork and wide for a goal kick.
The Rocks will feel they had the better of the first half, with chances for Dan Gifford, Alfie Bridgman and Nathan Odokonyero in the last ten minutes of the half. But, it remained goalless at the interval.
There was an increase in intensity from both sides at the beginning of the second half but it was the Rocks again who had the better chance in the early stages. A nice move saw Gifford have time in the box to get his shot off and the forward struck the crossbar.
Adam Hinshelwood turned to his bench for a much-needed injection of pace as he brought on Mo Jammeh and Mo Dabre to replace Davide Rodari and Starkey.
Dabre made an immediate impact with his quick feet as he danced past a defender on the counter-attack before being brought down cynically by Rocks captain, Harvey Whyte who was booked.
Up the other end was a huge double chance for the Reds. First, Ollie Pearce’s free-kick was tipped onto the bar by Matt Rowley in the Bognor goal. The Rebels then recycled possession and fed in Reece Meekums to the byline who cut back to Joel Colbran who should have done better with his effort, as he hit it well over.
The Rebels thought they’d broken the deadlock some ten minutes later when Jammeh fired in from distance, but the ball took a deflection off Pearce, who was in an offside position, on its way through and the free-kick was given to Bognor,
Hinshelwood then replaced James Beresford with Liam Vincent on 80 minutes.
The Reds had two big penalty appeals as the game entered the dying embers. First, Meekums went down under a challenge as he advanced into the box. Nothing was given, though it looked to be a clear foul but just outside the area. Then, the better appeal was when Dabre bundled over after being pushed in the back, but referee, Adrian Harris pointed his arm out to signal a goal kick.
Just before the full time whistle, Tillman was called into action at the near post where he parried wide a deflected effort and the teams were heading to penalties.
When Pearce saw his penalty saved first up, the nerves were ramped up in the Rebels camp.
Then, four perfect penalties each brought the score to 4-4, with Joshua McCormick stepping up for a chance to win it for the Rocks, but he hit his spot-kick high and wide and the Reds were back in it.
Jammeh, Meekums, Dabre and Rye converted for the Reds to keep themselves in front each time before Tillman made himself the hero. The Bognor captain, Whyte, stepped up and rolled his penalty to Tillman’s left and the 17-year-old jumped on it to crown Worthing as Sussex champions!
What a debut and what a way to write your name into the Worthing history books!
The Rebels crowned a memorable season in perfect fashion and the future is certainly looking bright.