REPORT and PICTURES: Brilliant Bosham win their third league cup in four seasons
An 87th-minute strike by subÂ Matt Andrews sealed another famous night in the history of Bosham Football Club as they won the SCFL Division Two Challenge Cup for the third time in four years - to leave Rustington heartbroken and their treble hopes dashed.
The game, played at Pagham FC, started at breakneck pace with both sides intent on finding an early advantage and Bosham had the first chance after only a couple of minutes when Callum Coker burst through on goal. But his touch let him down and keeper Tommy Yeates made an easy save.
At the opposite end Declan Jenkins found himself with a clear chance on goal but sent his shot wide after the Robins defence allowed the striker a pop at goal. Rustington dominated possession following this but the resolute Bosham defence, well marshalled by Matt Docherty, had few problems keeping the Blues at bay.
On the half-hour mark Steve Kirkham was denied an opener for Rustington by an offside flag. Bradley Miles was the instigator of all the good work produced by the Reds and Grant Radmore looked sharp down the flank. His pace had Rustington back-pedalling at times but the quality in the final third for the Reds was lacking its usual sharpness.
Kirkham had another good opportunity when he latched on to a long ball and burst into the box. He unleashed a fierce shot which Nick Hall saved brilliantly. Max Smith was his usual tricky self for Bosham with electric turns and the odd burst of searing pace and he created a chance as the half-time interval approached. His eventual shot went wide.
Bosham started the second half brightly and both Coker and Smith had opportunities but neither was able to find the target. Arron Hooker-Meehan was forced off with an ankle injury for Rustington - before Gavin Heater fell victim to a hamstring injury to add further pressure on the Blues management.
Bosham made changes to replace tiring legs with both Miles and Coker making way for Andrews and Jack Hardman. By now supporters on the touchline were in agreement that one goal would be enough for either team.
With just three minutes of the 90 left, Bosham's moment finally arrived. Radmore twisted and turned near the corner flag on the right and sent a searching ball into the danger area. Yeates flapped at it and the ball dropped invitingly at the feet of Andrews, who lashed the ball into the roof of the net to send the Bosham players, management and fans into raptures of joy.
Bosham dug deep to soak up some incessant pressure in the remaining minutes and held firm to seal a third cup triumph in four years. Captain Miles had the honour, a short time after the final whistle, of lifting the cup to round the night off in the perfect way and send the Robins faithful home from very, very happy.
Bosham's season is not quite done yet - they go to Cowfold on Saturday then entertain Sidlesham at 11am on bank holiday Monday to finish a season that can be seen as a big success.
Bosham: Hall, Bulbeck, Bell, James, Dowden, Miles, M Smith, Coker, Radmore, Bedford, Docherty. Subs: A Smith, Hardman, Andrews, Barnes, Lafferty.