Well this was the “Biggest” in the eight year history of Real Rosehill FC and we were playing for the first time in a County Cup Semi Final.
Having been knocked out in the last 2 previous seasons at the quarter final stage this was a MUST win game for Rosehill.
Real Rosehill had reached the semi-final having played and beaten the current holders Pink Flamingos 5-0, top of the Lewes League St Mary’s Athletic 5-0 and top of the Worthing League Rebels 5-0.
Rosehill were drawn to play AFC Chichester in the semi-final, a side who had not lost in the Chichester Premier League for 2 years so we had once again the toughest draw.
We all met at Patcham Place to get the coach to Chichester leaving at 8.30am and the talk on the coach was of winning and reaching the ultimate of all Sunday Cups in Sussex, “The Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup”
The players arrived at the ground in Chichester at 9.15am and it gave us at least an hour before the game to work on tactics and to get a feel of the pitch which considering the rain that we have had was in excellent condition. Gary (FFS Max) Derkson spoke to all the players on the coach and during the warm up to let them know what he wanted each player to do specifically.
The game kicked off on time and for the first 20 minutes it was end to end with no real chances. On around 22 minutes AFC Chichester had their first chance of the game which was saved superbly by Adam Devlin. Rosehill went up the other end and a chance came to Dan Nelson with only the keeper to beat but the ball hit a divot and went wide. Chichester were giving Rosehill a tough time in defence and midfield with all of the play going through their playmaker, their number 10.
Following this Rosehill started to dominate the game and George Rudwick was his usual self not letting our opponents get the ball and our pass and move game was excellent with Gary Anderson being a thorn in the Chichester midfield and attack by being first to every ball and not allowing their players to gain any momentum.
The first goal came on 25 minutes with Dan Nelson being put through superbly by captain, Zac Scott and Dan buried the ball, giving the keeper no chance. The goal came shortly after Zac had missed a top chance with the ball taking another bobble and ended up off target.
On 30 minutes heroics were needed again when the Chichester number 10 had a one on one with Adam and he made himself big and blocked the shot.
The Rosehill defence of Marky, Harry, Dane and Nathan were excellent and defended superbly not allowing Chichester any other chances in the first half. This with the top efforts of George and Gary sent in Rosehill 1 up at half time.
To be a goal up at half time allowed Rosehill to go out for the second half and to play with the same passion as they did in the first half and knowing that we were in the driving seat which made it all the more easier to set out a plan for the second half.
Rosehill were unbelievable going forward with Dan Nelson owning the centre of the midfield and with Craig and Lewis out wide it gave Rosehill plenty of opportunities to pass and move and to play counter attacking football.
Chichester knew they were in a game and having been unbeaten in 2 years in the league they were on the back foot and with hardly any possession started to argue between themselves and the referee and they played straight into Rosehill’s hands and game plan.
Rosehill continued to dominate and on 60 minutes a clinical finish by George Rudwick following a Zac Scott assist made it 2-0 with a super strike low into the keeper’s left hand corner.
Chichester then played 4-3-3 in search of two goals to level it up but the Rosehill defence staying resolute and Harry and Dane had the Chichester’s attackers in their back pockets.
Gary Derkson made a substitution on 65 minutes to go more defensive and Kyle came on for Lewis Whitehouse and Rosehill played an extra person in midfield.
Rosehill instead of standing firm and defending a 2-0 lead continued to press the AFC Chichester defence. An excellent team move then saw George run from just inside the Chichester half and beat 5 players but smashed the ball rather than placing it and the keeper made a one on one save. It would have been great to have the game dead and buried but was not to be.
With 12 minutes to go AFC Chichester scored to make it 2-1 and luck was involved as Rosehill were unable to clear the ball.
The next 10 minutes for a manager and his coach was tough but Rosehill did not panic and continued to play their pass and move game and Chichester were unable to gain any momentum to press for an equaliser and Rosehill were making them look very average by keeping the ball.
Tony, for the final 10 minutes kept asking Harry’s dad Matt how long to go and to double check was even asking Debbie Michael how long was left. It was a real nail biting 10 minutes but the Rosehill defence and midfield were resolute in their defending and Kyle, Craig, Dan and Zac continuing to press for a third.
There was elation when the final whistle was blown with the Rosehill players running onto the pitch to celebrate the beating of the competition favourites. Tony was informed by the Chichester manager that the only reason we won was due to the fact that the referee came up with us on the coach and we must have paid him off…..poor losers and not used to playing good sides.
It was an amazing experience to be part of a side that gave it their all and 100% commitment. There was the usual banter on the way back on the coach with Tony doing his usual stand up spot which culminated in a rendition of the choad dance and had to come back for an encore!
Thank you to all the players who gave it their all, to Matt Shooman, Debbie and Chris for coming to support us on the day and to Max, Sam and Ryan who also came to watch the mighty Rosehill. The lads did not let us down !!!!! Thanks also to new player Jack Stinton who came to the game as was due a debut as a sub but at that time it would have been too difficult to make any changes.
Onto the final now and we are to play Peacehaven DPA who are the current leaders of the Lewes Football League having got there by playing one game and beating East Brighton 1-0 with 10 men.
The final is on Sunday 13th March, kick off 2pm on the new 4G at SCFA headquarters in Lancing.
Need to make sure that all of our supporters wear something navy or dark blue and we WILL win the final and become the best team in Sussex…..Just Believe !!!!!