Fans at the Oval were treated to a spectacular Eastbourne United performance on Wednesday night as they saw off League One outfit Crawley Town in the Sussex Senior Cup.
They showed no fear in dispatching their higher ranked opponents, and while the visiting Red Devils were not at full strength, their side included experienced professionals such as Argentinian midfielder Sergio Torres and striker Gary Alexander.
Crawley’s dismissal of manager, Richie Barker prior to kick-off, didn’t make for the ideal preparation, but that doesn’t take away from United, the amazing feat of victory against a league side.
Directed superbly by Ryan McBride in attack, along with the creativity of Matt Mclean, Wes Tate, who sealed the win, and the pace and trickery of Jason Taylor, there were no signs of the five divisions that separate the two sides.
The visitors had to resort to dragging the un-playable McBride down for a penalty in the second-half, while Ben Dartnall and Jack Franklin controlled the midfield with tenacity and composure in equal measure.
The back four of Luke Denton, Shaun Loft, Scott Dartnall, and Sean Ray, who also weighed in with a goal, were solid as a rock and Crawley’s Alexander, a player with 153 league goals to his name, barely got a sniff.
Even on the rare occasion when the back-line was breached, goalkeeper Grant Young was in fine form between the sticks. United set the tone when Mclean forced a fine save from the Crawley keeper early on, before Torres forced an acrobatic stop from Young in the United goal.
And the evening might have taken a different turn if not for Young’s superb double save midway through the first-half.
That saw the sides go in level at the break, and on 66 minutes defender Ray sent the Oval into raptures, rising highest to thump home Wes Tate’s corner on 66 minutes.
Shortly after, United got their deserved second when McBride was hauled over in the box and Tate duly dispatched the resultant penalty.
Tate had a chance to put some gloss on the scoreline after Taylor was brought down for another penalty. But he went the same way only for the keeper to save this time.
That meant little though and did nothing to dampen manager Simon Rowland’s mood,
“Tonight it was a fantastic performance”, he said “Hopefully we’ll get a nice little draw in the next round, Eastbourne Borough or someone like that.
UNITED: Young, Denton, Ray, Loft, S Dartnall, Franklin (Darby), B Dartnall, Tate, Taylor (Sturgen) Mclean, Mcbride