Top-to-bottom: lowdown on Under-18s cup final

Sussex County Girls Under-18 League Cup final: Crawley Wasps v Worthing Town, Culver Road, Lancing, May 1, 7.30pm

Action from Crawley Wasps v Hangleton Rangers U18 April 20 2014 Photo: Dave Burt

Crawley are assured of at least a championship play-off against Hangleton Rangers (Photo: Dave Burt)

Top v bottom – the team who have lost only three league games all season against the one who have won only three times.

The Sussex Under-18 cup final is a perfect example of David taking on Goliath.

And yet, as Sent Her Forward has reported more than once already this season, that’s absolutely no guarantee of where the trophy is heading.

If Worthing Town, who have finished fifth of five in their division, want some comfort that nipping along the A27 to Lancing tomorrow night is not a waste of time, they need only ask the players of Chichester City, who famously won the Sussex Challenge Cup a month or so back, against Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion.

Or, more recently, those from Herne Bay, who repeated Chichester’s convincing 3-0 scoreline in overcoming the champions of the league above them, Bexhill United, in the final of the South East Counties League Cup last Sunday.

And if Crawley Wasps are suddenly starting to get a little worried about their favourites tag, they should be reassured by their fine season so far, which has left them with a great chance of a league-and-cup double, and their head-to-head results against their opponents.

But quite honestly, I doubt whether there’s anyone from either team currently harbouring the slightest doubt about tomorrow night – it’s a cup final. And unless you’re very special, they don’t come along too often.

League records

P W D L PTS
1st Crawley Wasps 12 7 2 3 23
5th Worthing Town 12 3 1 8 10

*Goal difference not used at youth level

Crawley ended their league season last Sunday with a 4-1 win over tomorrow night’s opponents. It put them three points clear of Hangleton Rangers, who will need to win their final scheduled fixture to earn a play-off with Crawley for the league title.

The result also meant Worthing finished the season five points behind the next team, Jarvis Brook.

Road to the final

Crawley Wasps Worthing Town
Quarter-final Eastbourne (a) 2-0 Royal Tunbridge Wells (h) Walkover
Semi-final Jarvis Brook (h) 6-1 Hangleton Rangers (h) 4-3

But there is plenty to lift their spirits: after losing their first four games of the season, they have won three out of their last six – including victories over Hangleton in both league and cup – whereas two of their opponents’ three defeats have come in the same period.

In Dulcie Elder and Charlotte Hoskins, they boast two prolific goalscorers, who between them have grabbed 22 of the team’s 24 goals this season.

And the under-18s are part of a club which boast almost 500 players at various levels, plus a host of volunteers.

Sent Her Forward player to watch (Worthing Town) – Dulcie Elder
When the star striker of a team that finishes bottom ends the season in double figures, averaging a goal a game, you tend to ignore her at your peril. She’s already scored twice against Crawley this season and hit a hat-trick in the semi-final.

Of course, in Crawley Wasps they face a team that also has terrific pedigree, as part of a fast-growing club which has already made its mark at women’s level, finishing third in this season’s London & South East Regional League.

The women’s manager, Paul Harding, is hoping that some of the under-18s will form the core of a development side next season, that could bridge the gap between youth and senior levels.

And judging by their form in their crunch league clash with Hangleton a couple of weeks ago, he should have no worries about their ability to do just that.

The Wasps play attractive football, with speed and strength supplementing their undoubted skill. They, too, have plenty of goalscorers, as well as the best defensive record in the league.

And yes, they will start as favourites – and rightly so. Whether they end the same way will depend on the occasion and how they handle it – and whether their opponents can repeat the exploits of David.

Sent Her Forward player to watch (Crawley Wasps) – Flo Jackson
Perhaps not as high-profile as some of her free-scoring team-mates, Jackson can play a crucial role from midfield, creating chances for others. But she knows where the goal is, too, scoring in each of Wasps’ cup games so far.

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