Yussuf, Henderson and Watt strike in Senior Cup success
Reds are through to the quarter-finals of the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup after eventually making their class tell against Horsham YMCA.
The hosts missed some great chances in the first half and were made to pay when Adi Yussuf’s deflected effort put Crawley in front after 36 minutes.
Conor Henderson fired in a 25-yard free kick just before the break and a second-half goal from Sanchez Watt completed what was in the end a comfortable win for the visitors.
Reds employed a 3-5-2 formation against the Southern Counties League outfit with Joe McNerney employed alongside Addison Garnett and Alex Davey as the central defender made a welcome return after seven weeks out following minor knee surgery. The width was provided by Bobson Bawling and Henderson with Kaby Djalo, Aryan Tajbakhsh and Jason Banton behind a front two of Watt and Yussuf.
The hosts, currently 10th in the Southern Combination League – the new name for the old Sussex County League – found themselves under early pressure. Yussuf headed against the bar from Bawling’s fifth minute cross and two minutes later Bawling’s lay back found Banton, whose shot was pushed over by YM keeper Sam Smith.
But if Reds were under the impression that they were in for a comfortable night they were given a shock. YMCA grew into the game, using the big pitch well and they squandered some great chances to take the lead.
Dave Brown was played in down the inside left channel but his cross-shot went wide when he should have hit the target before Reds were twice reprieved in the same attack. Yusuf Mersin pushed away Sam Schaaf’s close range shot to Brown who looked certain to score, but his effort was hacked off the line by Davey.
Reds had created nothing of note for 30 minutes but they went in front against the run of play on 37 minutes. Even then they got a slice of luck when Yussuf’s shot from Henderson’s cross took a deflection off Guy Harding past Smith.
The visitors finally began to play with a degree of confidence and doubled their lead a minute before the break. Yussuf was fouled 25 yards out and Henderson’s free kick went past Smith inside his left-hand post.
The half-time score was harsh on the hosts but Reds had control and Henderson and Watt both went close to extending the lead in the first 15 minutes of the second half with powerful drives which were deflected just wide.
The third goal came on 65 minutes. Banton, increasingly influential in the second half, picked out Watt’s run down in the inside left channel and his powerful drive was too hot for Smith, who allowed the ball to trickle into the net.
Crawley were now in control and it was a case of how many they might add in the final quarter of the contest as YM began to tire. Watt’s storming run ended with a shot that flashed just wide then Banton blasted over from the edge of the box when he should least have hit the target. But the home side defended doggedly and certainly didn’t deserve to be on the end of a more emphatic defeat given their contribution to an entertaining tussle.
McNerney’s successful return to action was a big plus for Reds and he got generous applause from the visiting fans when he was replaced by Josh Yorwerth near the end as Reds completed what was eventually a comfortable passage into the last eight.
Reds: Mersin (Beeney 45), Bawling, Davey, Garnett, McNerney (Yorwerth 85), Henderson, Djalo, Tajbakhsh, Banton, Watt, Yussuf. Unused sub: Payne.