A talented team containing players from across the locality, including Rye College Year 8 student Liam (pictured left), has reached the final of a national competition.

The South East Sussex district has made it to the final of the English Schools’ FA Boys’ Under 13 PlayStation Inter Association Trophy, which will be played at the home of Stoke City FC on Friday May 10.

It’s the first time that South East Sussex have ever reached a national final and their opponents will be Chester le Street, Washington & Derwentside.

South East Sussex got to the final on the back of a splendid semi-final victory at home to a strong Croydon side, winning 3-2 after extra-time.

Croydon had beaten South East Sussex in the semi-finals of another competition a few weeks previously and travelled to Claremont Prep School with eight academy players in tow.

But J. Fuller put South East Sussex ahead with an incredible goal, going past three opposing defenders and firing into the top corner. Croydon equalised just before half time, however, and took a 2-1 lead during the second period. South East retaliated with some very good football and levelled when Fuller’s free kick was turned into the net by G. Pegman. The game went into extra-time and there were chances at either end during the first period, with J. Watson producing an incredible save in the South East Sussex goal.

South East Sussex went on to land the decisive blow with two minutes to go in the second additional period. Fuller, with his lightning speed, stole in from seemingly nowhere and produced a cheeky flick to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper before chipping the ball in.

South East Sussex, who are coached and managed by Jim Colston and John Lovell, played fantastic football and their effort was second to none.

The team had previously won five matches just to reach the semi-finals of a competition entered by 89 teams.

South East Sussex won 4-1 away to Aldershot & Farnborough in the quarter-finals, 3-0 away to Hillingdon in round four, 7-0 away to West Kent in round three, 3-2 away to Gosport & Fareham in round two and 3-2 at home to Brighton & Hove in round one.

The players, who were selected by trial having being put forward by their schools, come from all over the district and do not train together. They are a fantastic bunch of boys who display great football and as a team are going from strength to strength.

The South East Sussex Association is made up of secondary schools along the coastal strip of East Sussex, from Rye through to Eastbourne, including Hastings and Bexhill.

It provided local school players the opportunity to play competitive football against other representative district teams. It also runs district leagues and cup competitions for all member schools.

The district runs teams from the under-12 to under-16 age groups. The under-13 and under-15 sides play in English Schools’ FA national competitions, and those in the under-12, under-14 and under-16 age groups compete in South of England competitions.

Players who have previously represented South East Sussex SFA in the competition include West Bromwich Albion star Gareth Barry and AFC Bournemouth ace Steve Cook.

Words by: Simon Newstead - Hastings Observer.