VIDEO: Rustington end long wait for silverware

Rustington celebrate their Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup win. Picture by Simon Roe Photography
Rustington celebrate their Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup win. Picture by Simon Roe Photography

Rustington Football Club won a first trophy in over a decade this evening.

First half efforts from Aaron Hooker-Meehan and Chris Darwin were enough to fire Blues to a 2-1 Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup final triumph over two-divisions below Mid Sussex Championship outfit Eastbourne Rangers at Culver Road.

Jon Tucker's troops were dominant in the first 45 minutes and could easily have gone in at the break more than two goals to the good.

Eastbourne Rangers were much-improved after the restart, pulling one back through centre-half Tony Russell but Blues held out to win the trophy.

It was the first silverware of any kind for Rustington since 2006 and boss Tucker was proud his side were able to finally end such a long wait.

He said: "I'm genuinely over the moon. The last 20 minutes I was pacing up and down, my voice was going but it's a great achievement.

"We've got a great team spirit, some experience mixed with pace within the squad aswell.

"There are so many people involved behind the scenes who deserve great credit for us winning the highest possible trophy we can at this level."

After dominanting the opening exchanges, Rustington finally broke the deadlock on the half-hour. Minutes after crashing a 25-yard free-kick against the crossbar, Hooker-Meehan was on hand to poke home from all of six yards.

Blues were in total command and added a second five minutes before the break. Danny Johnson failed to clear Stephen Kirkham's cross, with Darwin pouncing to coolly slot past the onrushing Jason Tibble.

Rustington had a let-off less than a minute after the restart. Josh Harris was sent clear, only for his attempt to go just past the far post.

Eastbourne Rangers looked a different team in the second half, getting a goal back through defender Russell ten minutes from time.

Blues were now desperately hanging on, surviving a couple of late scares but they held out to be crowned 2018 Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup champions.

Blues are in with a chance of winning the treble this season. Tucker's troops need just four points from their final four matches to be crowned SCFL Division 2 champions, while they face Bosham in the League Cup final at Pagham FC's Nyetimber Lane home next Thursday.

RUSTINGTON: West; Beaney, MacIver, J.Bennett, Miles; Peters, Hudson; Darwin, Hooker-Meehan, Jenkins; Kirkham. Subs: Rowland (Kirkham, 81), O’Connor (Hooker-Meehan, 70), Heater (Hudson, 15), Llewellyn, C.Bennett.