Sussex Cup final means so much to Bognor
Jack Pearce says Bognor must go all out to end the season by lifting the Sussex Senior Cup.
The manager – who was at the helm last time they won the trophy in 1987 – is hoping fans, players and staff all have an occasion to savour when they take on Burgess Hill at Brighton’s Amex Stadium next Tuesday (7.45pm).
Bognor’s build-up is not being helped by the injury problems that have plagued them all season and midfielder Doug Tuck and winger Mason Walsh are both rated doubtful for the showpiece game.
Bognor have beaten Three Bridges, East Grinstead and Brighton under-23s to reach their third final in six years and fourth in nine years.
And having lost at the last hurdle in 2010, 2013 and 2014 they are desperate to win the trophy this time.
They may have a psychological advantage over Burgess Hill, just relegated from the Bostik premier and 8-0 losers in the league at Nyewood Lane in October, but Pearce says that will count for little once the teams go toe to toe in this one-off match.
“We have had a difficult few weeks in the league but being in the cup final does give us a chance to end the season on a high note,” he said.
“At Folkestone on Saturday, although we lost 1-0, we couldn’t have asked for any more effort from those who played. The effort was exceptional and we are creating chances, even if we’ve not been taking them in recent games.
“The cup final is a different game, nothing to do with anything that’s happened in the league. It’s a big game for the fans to enjoy and the players hopefully can savour playing at a big stadium like the Amex.”
Tuck, who has been struggling with a groin injury, and Walsh, whose hip problem has plagued him for much of the season, may miss out through injury although they will be assessed and given every chance of making the line-up.
With centre-half Harvey Read having been released, that could leave Bognor short of options. But top scorer Jimmy Muitt should be fit to start at a ground that was once his home, and young Pompey forward Brad Lethbridge should be in the starting line-up too. Jimmy Wild could complete a three-man attack.
Not available are cup-tied trio Joe Tomlinson, Ed Sanders and Reece Meekums, who have played for Brighton, Whitehawk and Worthing respectively in this season’s Senior Cup.
Meanwhile Bognor are waiting to see what Pompey’s plans for Lethbridge and fellow Rocks loanee Leon Maloney will be next season now the Fratton Park club have awarded the two attackers another year on their deal.
Two other Pompey youngsters who the Rocks have borrowed this season - midfielder Freddie Read and centre-half Joe Dandy - are not being kept on at Fratton. Dandy will stay there for another six months as he comes back from injury.
Pearce said it was early in the process of looking at next season’s Rocks squad but did say: “We need a fresh influx of players. We need to freshen up the squad.”