Captain Steve Metcalf says Worthing Football Club’s performance against East-bourne Borough in the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup final on Friday will give them confidence to take into next season.
Worthing more than matched their two-divisions-higher opponents as they fell to a 1-0 defeat in the showpiece final at the Amex in front of a crowd of 2,899.
Nathaniel Pinney got the only goal of the game on 52 minutes before he was sent off late on, as Rebels created several chances before and after the goal.
Metcalf believes Rebels’ performance is something the squad can take forward into next season in the Ryman League Premier Division and said: “You always look to compete with teams that are above you and I think we’ve more than done that.
“On another day, we could have come out winners so it shows that we can go on that extra step and it gives us confidence going into next year against better teams and, hopefully, we can take this performance into next year and build on it.”
Metcalf has played in the Premier Division before and said: “With this talented group here, we can go on and consolidate next year. I don’t think you can put any sort of boundaries on us – we’ll try to progress, improve and will just give our best.
“An occasion like this will only benefit the younger lads and hopefully a few of them will come back again and get a better result next time.”
Metcalf felt that Rebels could have lifted the trophy on another day and said: “In the first half, we had three or four really decent chances. If we put them away, it could have been another story.
“Over the season, the boys have put in an absolute shift and have again today against a team two leagues above us. We more than matched them and could have won. The boys have been outstanding this season and you couldn’t have asked any more from them.”
Rebels joint boss Jon Meeney added: “I believe we should have won the game, if I’m being really ruthless.
“I can’t discard the performance, I’m really happy with that. We’ve gone toe-to-toe and matched them with commitment and hunger and in many other areas.
“I thought our mental organisation was good and a little more technical precision and composure it could have been a different story. It’s disappointing because we are all winners and I don’t like losing.”
Rebels were without injured Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Jordan Maguire-Drew, who hit eight goals in six games for the club, and 29-goal top-scorer Lloyd Dawes.
Meeney said: “They are influential players and in other games we have had that clinical edge but as much as Jordan and Lloyd weren’t involved, I back those players who played tonight. It just wasn’t to be.”
Worthing joint boss Gary Elphick was positive after the game and said: “I’m more positive than negative coming out of the game as it’s a great yardstick for us going into the new season.”
On the season overall, Elphick said: “It’s been unbelievable. Our first target was promotion, or just to get into the play-offs actually. To get promoted was incredible and this would have been the cherry on top tonight but unfortunately football isn’t fair sometimes and it wasn’t to be.”
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