Eastbourne Town boosted their bank balance by £3,000 and advanced to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
It was a tricky and physical cup tie against County League opposition cup but Matt Crabb’s penalty ensured they tie to advance to the second round to set-up a tie against Slough on Saturday, September 22.
Having beaten Ryman League, Burgess Hill Town, on their own patch, by three goals in the last round, Littlehampton Town was always going to be an awkward hurdle to overcome.
They were spirited and strong opposition, and played above their division two status.
The fit again Danny Curd was restored to the Town front line while Ben Austin started alongside Nick Fogden at the heart of Eastbourne Town’s defence.
Town dominated the cup tie but had to withstand strong challenges throughout.
Indeed Littlehampton’s Mark Burgess was booked five minutes into the game.
John Lansdale saw a long range shot well saved by the excellent Jon Hendricks in the home side’s goal. A super Matt Crabb cross then narrowly missed both Danny Curd and Sonny Cobbs.
A strong challenge that was initially thought to have broken Ross Sutton’s ankle, ended his afternoon’s and was replaced ably by Ben Billings.
Some neat interplay between Cobbs and Curd gave Ethan Strevett a shooting chance but his fierce shot was beaten away by Hendricks.
Town continued to pile on the pressure as they searched for that opening goal.
A Billings’ cross was headed wide by Lansdale. Then, with Cobbs calling for a penalty, Matt Crabb played Danny Curd but his effort was saved by Hendricks.
Town started the second period as they finished the first, as a Ben Billings cross just missed the advancing Curd.
Hendricks then saved from Cobbs, with Littlehampton now pinned on the edge of their own penalty area.
Danny Curd headed wide again, this time from a Strevett cross. Matt Geard replaced Cobbs just after the hour mark and he immediately played in Curd who shot high over the crossbar.
The game’s decisive moment came with just 15 minutes left to play.
A Matt Crabb free kick floated high into the Littlehampton area. Ben Austin beat the home ‘keeper, Hendricks, to the ball and, in making his challenge, Hendricks could only punch and push Austin to the floor, giving referee Pike little problem in pointing to the penalty spot.
Hendricks was lucky to escape with just a talking to from the referee but was less lucky moments later as Matt Crabb’s penalty kick was slotted home with plenty of confidence to give the visiting side a thoroughly deserved lead.
Although Littlehampton pushed forward for the last minutes of the game, they were never able to get the better of Eastbourne Town’s well marshalled defence that restricted the home side to just three shots throughout the game, none of which was on target.
Eastbourne Town boss, Danny Bloor expressed his satisfaction at the result. He said, “ These games are so tricky and trappy.
“Littlehampton Town were always going to be difficult to play, especially in front of such a partisan home crowd.
“I’m really pleased with the lads today.
“They gave a thoroughly professional performance, dominated the game and got us into the hat for the next round.”
TOWN: Reed 7, Lansdale 8, Sutton 7, Austin 8, Fogden 7, Elliott 8, Denton 8*, Strevett 7, Curd 7, Cobbs 7, M Crabb 8.
Subs: Billings 7 for Sutton 10 mins, Geard for Cobbs 63 mins, Greenfield 7 for Curd 80 mins
Unused: S Crabb, Simmonds, Howell, O’Callaghan Att: 174
MOM: Luke Denton - very experienced and solid performance
ABOVE RIGHT: Ethan Strevett shields the ball from the Littlehampton defence
MIDDLE RIGHT: Striker Danny Curd returned to the starting line-up and caused problems for the hosts
BELOW RIGHT: Ben Austin challenges for the ball during the FA Cup contest