Whitehawk vs. Crawley Down Gatwick

Crawley Down hold firm to lift Dennis Probee Cup

Words by Sophie Munro
Whitehawk 0-2 Crawley Down Gatwick

Freddie Johns header capped off Crawley Down Gatwick’s historic run in the Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup Final (Under-18s) last night, as they held out for a 2-0 win against holders Whitehawk at Culver Road. 

Crawley Down Gatwick were determined to make history after making the final for the first time, and after just 13 minutes, Johns rose highest at the back post, to power his header into the net and give his side the perfect start. 

Despite their opening struggles, Whitehawk responded and a quick delivery from Harry Hammond to Eiri Keskinis in 19th minute presented a chance inside the box, but Crawley Down keeper Alexander Barker calmly collected the attempt. 

Crawley Down slowed the game down, controlling and keeping possession to themselves but Whitehawk were determined to show that they were still a threat.

The Hawks continued to press for an equaliser and in the 36th minute Nas Balmer went through one-on-one with Crawley Down keeper Barker, but a quick block from the keeper proved to be enough to keep Crawley Down ahead as half-time drew closer. 

Just before the break, Crawley Down attempted to strengthen their lead with a nice chance created by a perfectly weighted ball over the top from Ricardo De Ponte Silva, which sent Jake Neaves bearing down on goal but he could only steer his shot just wide of the post. 

As the whistle blew for half-time, Crawley Down remained in front, with Whitehawk yet to be rewarded for their pressing throughout the first 45 minutes, but the game was wide open, and it was felt the next goal would prove decisive. 

With their new substitutes on the pitch, Whitehawk came out fighting in the second period, but yet, it wasn’t they who would get the important second goal of the game.

Minutes after the restart, an incredibly well-struck ball was delivered into the area by Crawley Down and the Whitehawk defence quickly scrambled to clear their box, but amid the chaos, the ball found its way into the net.

The two-goal lead didn’t stop Crawley Down from creating chances, wanting to add to their growing lead. 

A powerful shot delivered by Luca Anderson from just outside the box looked to test Whitehawk keeper James Jones, but he was able to react fast to make the save and keep his side in the game. 

In the 80th minute, Crawley Down’s Lewis Gould, who was disturbing the Whitehawk defence with his impressive runs down the flanks, fired a shot across goal, but despite his best efforts, the score remained 2-0.

Tensions ran high in the final minutes of the game. Both Whitehawk and Crawley Down players picked up yellow cards just seconds before the final whistle but within all the havoc it was Crawley Down who kept their cool as they secured the win.

Speaking after the full-time whistle, Crawley Down Gatwick manager, Martin Benetar, said: “It was a funny old game because the wind was against us in the first-half, and I thought we played better in the first than we did in the second. 

“Whitehawk are tough opponents as always, we knew it was going to be a challenging game. They were never going to give up, but I think we deserved a 2-0 win.

“We have a great unity in the squad, the boys will work and play for each other all day long. We’ve been together for some years now, so we know each other pretty well and what keeps us going.”

He went on to add: “It’s massive for the boys, it will be memories they will have for a very long time but it’s also great for Crawley Down Gatwick. We’re not the biggest club in the world but they attract some very good footballers and I think we proved that tonight as well!” 

Whitehawk vs. Crawley Down Gatwick
Whitehawk vs. Crawley Down Gatwick - 15-04-24
Highlights from the Sussex Dennis Probee Youth Cup Final (Under-18s) - powered by Your Instant Replay!

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

(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)

Stats (Whitehawk-Crawley Down Gatwick): Goals (0-2), Shots (4-9), Shots on target (1-4), Corners (5-5), Fouls (2-7), Offsides (5-3), Yellow cards (1-1), red Cards (0-0).

Whitehawk: J. Jones (GK), Hammond, Davis, A. Jones, Smith, King, Hicks, Gilbert (C), Balmer, Keskins, Quaye.
Subs: Brasier, Edwards, Mundoma, Pettitt, Lloyd.

Crawley Down Gatwick: Barker (GK), Hayter, Johns, Georgiou, Banke-Wallis, De Ponte Silva, Anderson, Lonsdale, Tidy (C), Neaves, Saletti.
Subs: Grimwood, Stone, Shimizu, Poole, Gould.

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