Q: What’s the hardest thing to do as a sports journalist? A: On the whistle reporting. Basically, this means submitting a match report on the final whistle, or as close to it as possible. If anything major happens in the last five minutes, you’re screwed big time as you have to alter your whole report to focus on the main talking point in just a couple of hundred seconds.
So yesterday I was doing exactly that at the Parafix Sussex Senior Challenge Cup final. The tournament takes place between football teams in the county of Sussex. Every county has some kind of knockout football competition but I’m going to stick my neck out and say the Sussex one is the most prestigious. The tournament has been going for 135 years.
The 2017 final was between Brighton Under 23’s and Crawley Town. The Seagulls won the final in 2008 between these to clubs, so Crawley went into the match looking for revenge.
In the press lounge beforehand, you could sense the stress and urgency of the journalists. You had some demanding team sheets while others barked into a walkie talkie making the whole thing seem like we were about to go into war. Okay, maybe a bit strong, but the pressure is really on the journalist to get a good match preview out and sort out their research.
Into the football, and to be fair, the view from the press box at the Amex is quality. Luckily, my seat wasn’t too near where the commentators were. I don’t know how I would be able to concentrate on my report with them chipping off in my ear every two seconds.
Jacob Miles decision to deny Brighton a penalty was probably the main talking point in a dull first 90 minutes of football. Tom Dallison felt he was pulled back as he volleyed wide from George Cox’s corner, however, referee Miles didn’t agree with the Brighton defender.
Brighton’s were obviously told to play a high pressing game during the game, which bred Crawley mistakes. James Tilley nearly opened the deadlock in this fashion, however his 25-yard strike flew just over.
Both sides enjoyed long spells of possession. Rhys Murphy controlled the midfield for the Red Devils while George Cox was the Seagulls main outlet. The full-back forcing multiple corners by running behind the Crawley defence.
The young Seagulls nearly put themselves 1-0 up on the stroke of half time. Joe Ward was tripped but James Tilley couldn’t capitalize, curling his free-kick wide of Yusuf Mersin’s post.
The game became more end to end in the second half. Although the Seagulls had more of the ball, Crawley Town arguably had the better chances. However, a stretching Rhys Murphy couldn’t beat Robert Sanchez to put Town 1-0 up after the break. Jayson Molumby and Dessie Hutchinson went close soon after.
For the most part, Crawley defended well. Although most a Brighton’s attacks were telegraphed; crosses in which were bread and butter for the Red Devils defence who must be used to it playing in League 2. The “away side” lacked an attacking outlet, and really missed their top scorer James Collins who has scored 20 goals for them this season. He used to be on the books at Villa, just thought I’d add that in there.
Silky winger Joe Ward was the biggest thorn in Crawley’s side during the second half, he made a couple of chances. First volleying high and wide from Jordan Davies’ cross field ball. Then five minutes later, the former Chelmsford City youngster played a nicely weighted ball through to Tyler Forbes. However, the right-back couldn’t find the target with an effort from close range.
In the final moments of normal time, brilliant last ditch tackle from Forbes on Crawley substitute Enzio Boldewijn stopped the Red Devils from scoring to take the game to extra time. Redeeming himself and then some.
We had to write a 600 report for normal time, then an extra 100 words on extra time. Unfortunately, where as we hadn’t had any goals during the first 90, there were three in extra time.
Here’s the 100 words I did for the added period;
Brighton’s under 23 side overcame a resilient Crawley Town side in extra time to claim their 13th Sussex Senior Cup victory.
James Tilley opened the scoring with a poked finish past Yusuf Mersin on the stretch seven minutes into extra time. The 18-year-old seems to thrive in this competition, having scored two goals against Eastbourne Borough in the semi-final to help the young Seagulls reach this stage.
A defensive lapse meant Towell ran through to double Brighton’s lead, before Joe Ward lashed past Yusuf Mersin in the Crawley goal to put the result beyond all doubt.
In fairness, Brighton U23’s extra fitness really paid off in the end. Crawley Town couldn’t get a kick in extra time and I felt sorry for their fans who didn’t stop singing all game. The highest being when a poor effort from Josh Lelan led to, “We’ve had a shot! Weeee’ve had a shot!”
Overall, I was a bit disappointed that I ran out of time to submit my report for extra time. The key to on the whistle reporting is to just get something sent off rather than spending an extra five minutes on checking all the spelling and grammar, something which I was guilty of doing. Nevertheless, the conclusion to the game was enjoyable and I got to see a cup final, so who am I to complain.
One more thing, really irrelevant I know, but one of my mates saw a badger on the bus journey home. I doubt you’ll find that in any other match report from today’s game!