There will be no trip to the AMEX Stadium this season for Eastbourne Borough after they suffered a surprise semi-final defeat on Wednesday night.
Boro’ boss Tommy Widdrington was far from impressed after watching his struggling Blue Square South side lose to Ryman League South outfit Crawley Down.
Worryingly for Boro’ fans their side created precious few chances against a disciplined Crawley side who won the match thanks to a 70th minute header from Luke Blewden.
After the defeat Widdrington said, “I am bitterly disappointed with the performance and to miss out on the chance of a final.
“I hope the players are in there and hurting. Hopefully they are listening to the Crawley players celebrating and realise that they wanted it more.
“I have serious concerns about the strength in depth of our squad. We had a few players out injured and it was a chance for some players who have been asking why am I not getting a game to impress and they certainly did not do that tonight.”
Of Crawley’s winning goal Widdrington added, “We had a back four made up of players with more than 2,000 games between them for this club and not one of them picked up the lad. Their number nine was probably the best player on the pitch and he got the winner. Good luck to them they have a final to look forward to.”
With Ollie Rowe on the bench, Ben Austin returned to the side and partnered Gary Charman at centre back. Matt Crabb slotted in a left back for Sam Cole with Darren Baker at right back. Ethan Strevett and new signing Jason Mason were in central midfield with Ellis Remy and young Billy Medlock up front.
Boro’s best chance of the match arrived early. Crabb whipped in a corner and Charman rattled the crossbar with a powerful header. That was as good as got. Crawley matched their opponents of two divisions above with former Boro’ midfielder Anthony Storey creating their best chance when his 35th minute cross just eluded the head of Hassan Nyang.
On the hour Austin cleared a looping header from Nyang off the line but five minutes later came the killer blow.
Rowe replaced Charman in the heart of the defence and just seconds later Blewden planted his header from Nyang’s cross firmly beyond Clarke Masters.
Widdrington’s men almost forced extra-time but Mason’s late freekick was well saved by Mark Zawadski.
BOROUGH: Masters 6, Austin 6, Baker 6, Charman 7 (Rowe 70), Crabb 6, Johnson 5, Strevett 5, Mason 6, Brinkhurst 5, Remy 7, Medlock 5 (Hart 80). MoM: Gary Charman - composed at the back. Referee: Tim Robinson
LEFT: Simon Johnson tussles with former Boro’ midfielder Anthony Storey at the Beacon on Wednesday night. Picture: Lee Smith