Battle Baptist Football Club will be going all out to win a national knockout competition today (Saturday).
The Baptists will face Liverpool side Bridge Chapel in the 25th National Christian Cup final at The Valley, home of League One club Charlton Athletic. Kick-off is 5.30pm.
Battle manager Gary Walsh said: “It’s been a long time anticipating it and everyone’s very excited about it. We’re going to give it our best shot and hopefully it will be good enough.
“Hopefully we’ll win, come back with another trophy and be able to talk about winning at The Valley for many years to come. We don’t want to be remembered as the runners-up; we want to hold that trophy aloft and bring it back to Battle.”
The Valley will be a far cry from Battle Recreation Ground, but Walsh believes his players will raise their game at a stadium which boasts a capacity in excess of 27,000.
“I think they will lift their game,” he continued. “They’re all really excited and there will be that extra spark in their play. I think when I played in games myself you know it’s a special occasion, your heart beats that little bit faster and you raise yourself - and that’s what I’m hoping will happen.”
The Baptists have made it to the final in convincing fashion, scoring 18 goals and conceding only three in their four National Christian Cup matches so far. Bridge Chapel have scored 20 and also let in three, although they were taken to extra-time in the semi-finals.
“You never quite know what you’re going to come up against in the National Christian Cup, but our scoring record in the competition is fantastic,” Walsh went on.
“I think the opposition will look at that and recognise they’re going to have a tough game. But they’re similar. They’ve also scored a lot of goals and I think it’s going to be a really great occasion.”
Victory tomorrow would cap a tremendous season for the Baptists, who have already finished second in the Macron East Sussex Football League and won the league’s Premier Travel Challenge Cup.
“We want to enjoy the occasion and enjoy the day, but we intend to win; there’s no doubt about that,” Walsh added. “We’ve got to be confident and we’ve got to be bold. I think everyone is really up for it.”
The Battle squad plans to arrive in South London at around 1.30pm and the club has booked a nearby restaurant for a pre-match meal. They will then head to the ground for around 3.30pm.
Once there Walsh plans to give the players time to get a feel for the venue before going through their usual pre-match routine, with the intention of making everything as normal as possible.
Walsh has what he considers his strongest 15 players fit and available after Monday evening’s training session was completed unscathed.
Jake Rudwick, Tom Saunders and Yordan Yordanov have all shaken off knocks picked up recently, and Walsh added that he’s pretty certain over his starting XI.
Battle will be cheered on by a pretty sizeable travelling support. Around 100 people have taken up the club’s very generous free coach travel offer and plenty more are set to make their way independently.
“There’s been a fantastic uptake from the supporters and I’ll be disappointed if the Liverpool fans outnumber the East Sussex fans,” Walsh said.
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!