Horsham YMCA 0-3 Bognor Regis: Rocks end YM’s magical cup run to reach another Amex final

Bognor Regis are through to the Sussex Senior Cup final at the Amex for a second year. Below: Dan Sullivan impressed for YM

Bognor Regis are through to the Sussex Senior Cup final at the Amex for a second year. Below: Dan Sullivan impressed for YM

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Bognor Regis ended Horsham YMCA’s fairy tale run in the Sussex Senior Cup to book themselves another final at Brighton’s Amex Stadium.

The County League side enjoyed lively start to the Thursday night semi-final held at Whitehawk, and missed a good early chance to go ahead.

W13287H14-FootballLancing''Sussex County League  Football. Lancing v Horsham YMCA. Action from the match. SUS-140329-175016001

W13287H14-FootballLancing''Sussex County League Football. Lancing v Horsham YMCA. Action from the match. SUS-140329-175016001

But once the Rocks took a 16th minute lead through Stuart Axten they didn’t look back and further goals from Dan Thompson and Ollie Pearce in the second half secured a comfortable 3-0 victory.

After being well beaten in last year’s final by hosts Brighton, Jamie Howell’s Bognor will get another shot at lifting the historic trophy they last won back in 1987, when they take on Ryman South champions Peacehaven & Telsc. at the Amex on May 18.

Peter Buckland’s YM had seen off Ryman Premier Lewes and Conference South side Whitehawk in the previous two rounds and the way they started this match - rearranged after the original fixture at Lancing was rained off - showed they were in the mood to make it a hat-trick of big scalps.

A Dan Evans cross from the left was nearly turned into his own net by a Bognor defender after only two minutes, the ball deflecting only just wide, and midfielder Liam Hunter then tried his luck from range, though his shot was comfortable for goalkeeper Anthony Ender.

YM’s top-scorer Nick Sullivan was causing the Ryman Premier side’s defence some early problems and a lovely dummy saw him race past his defender down the right and find Ashley Dugdale with a low cross, but with space inside the box the skipper dragged his first-time effort beyond the far post with eight minutes gone.

It was a good chance and virtually the last YM would create as their bigger Sussex neighbours then took charge.

With 16 minutes on the clock giant defender Axten rose to meet a corner and his header took a deflection before finding the back of the net.

That early confidence visibly drained out of YM and seemingly into the Bognor players, who then carved out a flurry of good chances.

YM goalkeeper Simon Lockwood denied Doug Tuck from range before making a point-blank save to keep out Thompson’s header at the back post from a corner. The resulting flag kick was only half cleared and tossed back into the area for Pearce to turn into the net, though he was denied by an offside flag, and then Dan Sackman wasn’t picked up as he nodded over a deep free kick.

The pressure finally told on the half hour mark with a move started and finished by Thompson. He sprayed a fine ball out to the right where Paul Hinshelwood skipped past a lunge from left back Evans and picked out a return pass for the striker to slam home from close range.

The second half was less eventful and saw YM enjoy some good possession and get their passing game going in spells, though again rarely threaten.

Rocks stopper Ender though did hand the ball straight to Dave Brown on the left but his cross was cut out well by Dan Sackman.

Experienced striker Terry Dodd came off the bench for Bognor and nearly made an instant impression when he charged down a backpass to Lockwood, but the YM defence were quickly back to snuff out the danger.

Bognor did get a third goal on 71 minutes and it was a move of real quality. Jamie Crane sprinted down the right and picked out the perfect pass for striker Pearce to guide home a goal his performance deserved.

In the final minute of stoppage time Kane Wills crossed for Dodd, who expertly turned his marker but shot straight at YM stopper Lockwood, Thompson prodding the rebound wide, and right at the death a YM corner caused a goal-mouth scramble as they searched for a consolation.

So having already guaranteed their place in the Ryman South play-offs, Bognor - the only side to have won the Sussex Senior Cup five times on the bounce (1980-84) - will get the chance to end their 27-year wait to reclaim the historic trophy at the Amex on Sunday, May 18.

Horsham YMCA meanwhile can be extremely proud of reaching the last four for the first time in their history and are still in with a chance of promotion themselves with two Division One matches still to play.

YM: (4-4-2): Lockwood; Carden, Evans, Burgess, O’Carroll; D Sullivan (Cox 77), Brown, Hunter (Crane 78), Dugdale; Curtis (J Brown 73), N Sullivan.

Bognor (4-4-2): Ender; Hinshelwood (Weir 56), Crane, Axten, Sackman; Chamberlain, Johnson (Dodd 53), Tuck (Kempson 77), Wills; Thompson, Pearce.