Crawley Down Gatwick vs. Hastings United

Hastings Edge Crawley Down in Shootout

Crawley Down Gatwick 0-0 Hastings United (4-5 after penalties)

It took penalties to separate Crawley Down Gatwick and Hastings United last night at the Haven Sportsfield in the Third Round of the Sussex Transport Senior Cup, yet it was the visitors who held their nerve to progress.

Going into the tie, Hastings were enjoying something of a new (or returning) manager bounce under Chris Agutter, and from the opening exchanges that confidence was clear to see, as they quickly established their authority on proceedings.

For Crawley Down, an impressive 3-0 win over Saltdean United had propelled them into the Third Round, but the opening exchanges showed it would be their defence that would have to be the difference in this contest.

That defence didn’t have to wait long to be tested, with Hastings’ number 10 John Ufuah making a clever darting run into the box and picking up on a good ball in.

However, he was unable to get a clear shot on goal owing to a remarkable last-ditch challenge from Crawley Down’s Louis Pittock, who came sliding in to avert the danger.

The rest of the half saw Hastings continue to enjoy the vast majority of possession; playing it around the Crawley deep press and attempting to carve out more clear-cut opportunities.

However, the Anvils seemed content to allow the visitors so much of the ball, as they looked to capitalise on any lapse of concentration from Hastings.

Yet no such opportunity presented itself in the first 45 minutes, and as the sides went into the break level, it was clear the home side were by far the happier

The second-half continued in much the same way as the first had ended, with Hastings dominating proceedings as they searched for an opening.

Once again it was Ufuah who looked to potentially be the difference for the visitors, as 10 minutes into the half he fired a curling effort from just outside the box, but it was well saved by a diving Alex Bellingham in the Crawley Down goal.

As the half wore on, United’s frustration started to grow, with Sam Okoye picking up the first yellow card of the half for a late challenge on the edge of the box.

With the clock ticking down, the visitors started to ramp up the pressure on the home side.

Hastings’ Tushaun Walters fired in a long-range effort of his own on 78 minutes, but again Bellingham was able to watch it all the way into his gloves.

Just a few minutes later though Hastings finally had the ball in the Crawley Down net, thanks to an acrobatic effort Jason Fregene, who’s overhead kick was fired past Bellingham – however the flag of the assistant referee for offside put a halt to the celebrations.

With 90 minutes having nearly elapsed, it seemed that only penalties would be able to separate the two sides.

Yet the Anvils weren’t done just yet.

With just minutes left, Lewis Gould made a darting run to the near post and managed to get a first time shot away, but Hastings’ Charlie Grainger was alive to the danger to make his first save of the game and turn the ball behind for a corner.

With the score still at 0-0 when referee Daniel D’Urso blew his whistle, the penalty shootout ensued, with both sides clinically dispatching their first four penalties.

Yet as the pressure ramped up, Crawley Down’s Jamie Bakhit was the first to blink, sending his penalty over the bar.

With all eyes now on Hastings’ Tommy Penfold, he rose to the occasion and calmly slotted home the winning penalty to send his side through to the Quarter-Finals of the Sussex Transport Senior Cup.

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

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