Pink Flamingos Football Club were crowned champions of Sussex on Sunday after lifting the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup at Culver Road, Lancing.
The cup, known commonly as the County Cup, is open to all Sunday adult teams playing in the top divisions of their respective leagues, and is the most prestigous competition that the Pinks enter.
After losing in the semi-final to AFC Shoreham last season, the two sides met again on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon with a trophy for the winner at the end of it. Over the past few years AFC Shoreham have come out on top in the fixture, and being their third County Cup final in as many years, there was certainly a feeling that this was their day.
Their script was torn up after just 4 minutes when Charlie Pitcher met James Westlake’s cross, and looped a header over the goalkeeper to put the Pinks in front. And on 23 minutes, the lead was doubled. Fantastic combination play on the right saw James Westlake breach the Shoreham defence and roll to Luca D’Alessio who passed into the net. 2-0 to Pink Flamingos.
The game looked as good as over on the half hour mark when Charlie Pitcher latched onto another dangerous cross, this time supplied by Ed Bartram, and took a touch before firing into the roof of the net. 3-0 to the Pinks and dreams of lifiting the cup surely sneaking into the players heads.
The wind picked up and so did Shoreham’s desire to get themselves back into the game, and two goals before half time bought the Pinks back down to earth with a thud. Firstly, Mark O’Regan fired into the top corner from 30 yards, and Joe Shelley then converted a penalty; awarded against James Westlake despite his protests and evidence of a muddy ball mark on his shirt.
Half-time came at a good time for Flamingos, who settled down and started the second half on the front foot. A couple of chances created, but nothing of note, as the game settled down again.
Goalkeeper Aaron Agate was called into action and made a number of crucial saves, including plucking the ball out of the bottom right hand corner of his goal as Shoreham appeared to have levelled.
The introduction of Luke Martin helped the Pinks get back into the game, and the spacey striker streched Shoreham’s defence from the minute he was introduced. Darryl Livesey was the unfortuante victim of one of Martin’s forward bursts; he was left with no choice but to bring the striker down when through on goal and was subsequently shown a red card.
The cup was wrapped up in the final minute when Martin broke again, this time beyond the Shoreham back line. He was joined by Charlie Pitcher, and squared the ball to his teammate to seal the victory. Every Flamingos player ran to the corner to celebrate the historic goal, including then substitute and Chairman Ed Bartram, who was cautioned for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission. He wasn’t too bothered, and took to the club’s website to thank those that supported the team on the day, and those that have helped the club grow so remarkably over the years.
A memorable day for everybody involved with Pink Flamingos Football Club, the Champions of Sussex!