Real Rosehill lifted the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup - sponsored by Gardner & Scardifield for the first time in their history after overcoming Peacehaven Deer Park Academicals (DPA) on penalties at Culver Road.
The long journey to the County Cup Final started on 11th October with a trip to Hurstpierpoint to play last yearâ€™s winners Pink Flamingos and played them off the park to win 5-0
The second round saw Rosehill draw St Maryâ€™s Athletic who were top of the Lewes League and beat them also 5-0.
The next game we played after the win over St Maryâ€™s was two weeks before Christmas with a tough quarter final game against the leaders of the Worthing League, Rebels which Rosehill won again 5-0.
Through to the semi-final on January 24th saw Real Rosehill take on the title favourites AFC Chichester away for a place in the final and Rosehill put on a brilliant display beating a team unbeaten in the league for 2 years 2-1.
So onto the final we go and much preparation took place with training and off the pitch to ensure that every minute detail with regard to player fitness, tactics and arranging the final was in place.
Rosehill had two major shocks pre-match, Rosehillâ€™s Xavi, aka George Rudwick failed a late fitness test and was unable to play as was Max Derkson who had a very nasty virus and was not even well enough to come and support his team mates.
We arrived on the day just after 12.30 and after walking the pitch the players got changed to go back out at 1.15pm for a gentle warm up and to get the feel of the run of the ball on a quality 3G pitch.
By 1.30pm the stadium had started to fill up and Rosehill had great support around 160 supporters in all which included ex-players as well.
Zac, the Rosehill captain led the players out onto the pitch to be introduced to the two most powerful men in Sussex football CEO Ken Benham and Chairman Matt Major from the Sussex County FA. We had two wonderful mascots on the day dressed suitably in full Real Rosehill kits. Lily Shooman sister of the Rosehill vice-captain Harry and Roman Drewitt-Barlow who is the son of our Sponsor Colin from Roman Estates. A great little touch from the team and just goes to prove we are a family orientated club.
The game kicked off nervously with little room for error on both sides and the atmosphere especially from the travelling Rosehill supporters who drowned out every murmur of support from the Peacehaven supporters,
Real Rosehill started well, with Mark Goldson firing just wide from outside the area eight minutes in before Peacehaven responded, with Scott Marshallâ€™s effort from a tight angle forcing Adam Devlin into a good save at the near post.
Peacehaven then forced Devlin into action again twenty minutes in, with Kiefer Ardaen-Webb seeing his curling effort held by the keeper, before a delightfully floated ball from Marshall picked out Ross Sutton at the far post, but he couldnâ€™t get a full connection on the volley at the far post.
Glenn Burvillâ€™s side continued to threaten in an even contest, with Scott Cameron-Wallerâ€™s header being deflected wide off the head of Harry Shooman, before Real Rosehill registered their first shot on target after Zac Scottâ€™s effort was straight at Jason McGonigle.
Rosehill then came close to taking an early second-half lead as Dan Nelson saw his effort from inside six yards kept out by McGonigle, before Peacehaven responded through Sutton, but his effort whistled past the upright from twenty yards.
McGonigle then did brilliantly to keep Rosehill at bay, as Scott found Craig Anderson inside the area, but from point blank range saw his effort saved by the diving keeper.
And from there, Peacehaven went up the other end to break the deadlock just after the hour mark. Rosehill failed to clear a ball in, and Sutton teed up Marshall twenty yards out who struck the ball away from Devlin and into the roof of the net.
However, Rosehill drew level just ten minutes later. Adam Dineâ€™s free-kick into the area picked out Shooman at the far post, and he fired the ball low beyond McGonigle and into the bottom corner.
There was more to this goal than just taking it to extra time. The Rosehill players will remember Harryâ€™s goal as a moment of pure magic as when he scored he lifted up his Rosehill shirt to show a white T-Shirt with the name â€œEllaâ€ in large black permanent pen which is Dane and his partner Emmaâ€™s recently born little girl who at the time of the final was still in hospital. A moment that all the team, ex players, officials and supporters will remember, nice touch H !!
Extra-time followed, and Gary Derkson and Tony rallied the players for another 30 minutes of football to decide who would be Sussex County Champions. From the start of extra time there continued to be little between the teams, with Adam Dineâ€™s corner causing concern for McGonigle, who did well to claw the ball away.
At the other end, Connor Jones did well to work his way into space inside the area, but one-on-one with the keeper saw his effort well saved by Devlin before Shooman did just as well to clear, but the game failed to produce another goal, and so a penalty shootout ensued.
It was left to Adam Devlin to be the hero, saving two penalties to help Rosehill lift the cup.
Aller Torralbo stepped up for the first spot kick for Peacehaven, but saw it saved by Devlin. Dan Nelson gave Rosehill the advantage, before Devlin saved brilliantly to keep out Marshall. Scott then saw his effort creep in, before Kiefer Ardean-Webb fired over the bar.
Shooman had the chance to win it for Rosehill, but could only hit the bar. Despite John Verrall scoring for Peacehaven, Mark Goldson, the youngest player on the pitch at 17 scored to see Real Rosehill make history and lift the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup.
It has taken 8 years of hard work and graft from everyone to become the BEST Sunday Football Team in Sussex and this is only the start with big plans for next season.
Thanks to everyone who came to support us and thanks to all the players who gave 100%, to Steve Hughes and his 3 assistants who controlled the game with precision and to the senior officials from Sussex County FA who ensured everything ran smoothly on the day. Thanks to our sponsor Colin Drewitt-Barlow from Roman Estates who has kindly sponsored Real Rosehill this season and attended the final with his young family. Finally to one of the best grassroots management team in Sussex Gary and Tony who through their hard work, grit and determination made this great win possibleâ€¦â€¦.
In summary we deserved to be County Champions, playing 5 games scoring 18 and conceding just the 2 goals.