The ‘Sale Cup’ is the most important game on the 1st XI fixture calendar. Not only is it contested against local rivals Brambletye but it was introduced by former Copthorne Headmaster, David Sale. He took a keen interest in this fixture and would come out to watch whatever the weather, home or away.
As current holders of the cup, winning in 2015 and retaining the trophy in 2016, we went in to the game looking to hold on to it for a third year running. In the first half we dominated possession but could not find that final ball to create the killer opportunity to score. Our defence was holding firm and the midfield were breaking up play nicely before spreading the ball wide; just as we had been working on in training. For all of our dominance it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with a fine strike from 20 yards which sailed in to the top corner. The score line remained the same going into half time despite all of our pressure in the final third.
Although we were trailing we felt positive and knew that we needed to match Brambletye’s physicality in order to get ourselves back in this game. A further half of dominance followed as we left Brambletye feeding on scraps and having to play a long ball game. I thought it was going to be “one of those days” as time after time we got into good positions but could not find a way past the keeper. Disaster struck as a rare lapse in defence allowed their pacey forward to get a toe on the ball and increase their lead to 2 with little more than 6 minutes to play. This goal actually had a positive impact and we played our most dynamic football in the final 5 minutes; peppering the box with crosses. Ben eventually found space in the box and just about got his shot away to reduce the deficit and give us a glimmer of hope. Then, a couple of minutes later the boys were on cloud 9. Sam S found himself on the edge of the area and thumped the ball into the box leaving the defender with little option but to try and get his head to it. Luckily for us his header went powering into the top left corner, levelling the scores at 2-2!
The final whistle blew and the whole team knew that they had been given a “Get out of jail free” card but they also knew that they had put a shift in and deserved to retain the cup. We probably did not do enough to win the game outright but we would have been hard done by if we had lost it. It is always a proud moment winning the Sale Cup and there have been far stronger teams to miss out on the honour so this current group of boys should hold their heads up high. Well done!
Squad: Austin, Liban, Louis, Jacob, Charlie, Luca, Alex, Ben (c), Sam S, Joseph, Sam D, Jake