Crawley 2’s made the long journey down to Hastings with a bare 11, but started the brighter of the two teams; Will Doherty and Hammad Jalal winning the early midfield battle and springing a number of counter attacks that troubled the South Saxons defence. Crawley found joy down the left-hand side with the combination of Alex Foxcroft and Nick Bennett, causing problems for the opposition right back. Finally, the domination paid dividends with skipper, Scott Gibbons finding Scott Mansfield in space in the ‘D’, which he converted at the second attempt.
Saxons responded well and their pressure mounted before half time. Stout defending from Ollie Robinson, Justin Renwick and Andy Burton kept the blue tide at bay through relentless attacks and a barrage of short corners; and the impressive Alex Howarth in goal looked assured despite this being only his second-ever men’s game in goal. However, the dominance finally paid off with two quick fire goals; the first a scramble after a questionable challenge by the opposition forward on Robinson and the second a short corner deflecting in off of a defender’s stick.
The second half saw more Saxons pressure and despite more heroics from the backline and Howarth, a third goal eventually followed. This was the wake-up call that Crawley needed as they finally rediscovered their early fluency. Man-of-the-match George Avis continued his recent fine form, defending well, linking up fantastically down the right-hand side with Burton and causing problems for the Saxons defence. The maroon pressure mounted and after the ball was only half cleared to Jalal he expertly picked out Gibbons in the circle. The Crawley captain showing composure to hold off the keeper and slot the ball into the goal, giving Crawley a sniff going into the final 10 minutes only 3-2 behind.
A good chance; started by excellent midfield play by Doherty and Jalal and involving both goal scorers; Gibbons and Mansfield, finally saw Bennett fire agonisingly wide. Unfortunately, without a sub the Crawley team were out on their feet and this proved costly, with Saxons making the game safe late on and compounding a third defeat on the spin for the boys in maroon.
The team will hope to bounce back at home against Brighton next week at 12:00.
Team: Howarth (GK), Burton, Robinson, Renwick, Foxcroft, Avis (MOTM), Doherty, Jalal, Bennett, Mansfield, Gibbons.