Sussex cup final is reward for Rocks fans

Rocks fans celebrate a goal at East Thurrock   Picture by Tommy McMillan

Rocks fans celebrate a goal at East Thurrock Picture by Tommy McMillan

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ROCKS fans are looking forward to their third cup final in five years – with the club’s management telling them: It’s your reward for your amazing backing.

They will head back to Brighton’s Amex Stadium on May 18 to battle it out with fellow Ryman League team Peacehaven for the right to lift the Sussex Senior Cup.

After being losing finalists against Brighton’s development side in 2010 and 2013, Bognor are hoping it will be a case of third time lucky.

That’s especially the case now their promotion dream has ended at the hands of Lowestoft, who won the Nyewood Lane play-off semi-final 2-1.

The Rocks clinched their place in the final with a comfortable 3-0 win over Horsham YMCA of the county league at Whitehawk. Stuart Axten, Dan Thompson and Ollie Pearce got the goals.

It was part of a really hectic end-of-season schedule which also saw them secure that home play-off semi-final.

Manager Jamie Howell said: “It’s nice to reach the county cup final again. When I was a player at Bognor we never used to get there. We deserve to be in the final this year.

“We beat Brighton – who often win it – and it will be a great occasion for the whole club. I see it as a reward for all the hard work put in this season by the players and the fans.

“The fact it’s at the Amex adds another dimension. It’s a fantastic pitch to play on and facilities to enjoy.

“Our regret last year was that we didn’t play very well. We weren’t strong enough to compete on the day and although we had chances, we ended up well-beaten.

“This time we want to win it. I watched Peacehaven beat Worthing and they are very strong. They’re Ryman division one south champions and will give us a tough game. But I hope we can go to Brighton and give our fantastic fans something to cheer.”

Coach Darin Killpartrick said: “Our fans certainly deserve another cup final and they deserve us to perform better and hopefully win it this time.

“That’s why we put out a strong team in the semi-final – we wanted to make sure we got through.

“Shaun Saunders and his team have had a superb couple of years at Peacehaven and will be out to win the final and it should be an exciting game for both sets of fans.”

The Rocks and their supporters have had a particularly-tough schedule in recent weeks, having had 11 games to go to in April.

Bognor’s league campaign ended in a 4-2 defeat at East Thurrock on Saturday, which meant they finished third in the table instead of second.

Howell felt Thursday night’s cup win was a factor in his players tiring at East Thurrock. “We started to get very tired very quickly – we had nothing left in the tank in the second half.”

STEVE BONE