Boldewijn's extra time goal seals 3-2 win over Bognor Regis Town
Reds are through to their first Sussex Senior Cup final since 2008 after an extra time win over Ryman Premier leaders Bognor.
Lewis Young gave Reds an early lead which was cancelled out in the first half by former Crawley defender Sami El-Abd. Billy Clifford missed a penalty but an own goal by Callum Davies, which made it 2-1 with 14 minutes to go, appeared to have settled the tie in normal time.
But substitute Ollie Pearce scored direct from a corner with the last kick of normal time to take the game into extra time. Reds pressed for a winner and it was substitute Enzio Boldewijn who produced it with a quality finish in the 119th minute.
Crawley now await the winners of the other semi-final between Brighton & Hove Albion and Eastbourne Borough on March 8 before discovering their final opponents at the American Express Stadium.
Reds predictably rung the changes with just two of the starters against Morecambe on Saturday – Young and Kaby Djalo – lining up for the first meeting between the clubs since they played at Bognor in a pre-season friendly in 2011.
Reds got off to the ideal start when they went ahead in the fifth minute. Bognor left-back James Crane failed to clear Clifford’s pass and as goalkeeper Dan Lincoln came off his line, skipper Young deftly lifted the ball over him and into the empty net.
Bobson Bawling’s header was saved at the second attempt by Lincoln a few moments later and the Bognor keeper was called into action again in the 17th minute when he pushed a powerful drive from outside the box by Clifford around the right-hand post.
Clifford was influential in the early stages. A delicate pass put Rhys Murphy away but Lincoln came out to push his close-range effort wide of the post. From the resultant corner Josh Yorwerth met Clifford’s delivery but his header was straight at the Bognor keeper.
It took the Rocks 26 minutes to mount their first attack which ended with midfielder Chad Field driving a shot well wide. But that effort encouraged Bognor and a minute later, after Yusuf Mersin had to turn an angled effort from Charlie Moone over his crossbar, they were level. Reds failed to clear a corner from the right and defender El-Abd had time to volley past Mersin from close range.
It was game on but Reds squandered a great chance to go back in front in the 38th minute. Josh Yorwerth was tripped in the box by El-Abd for a stone-wall penalty, but Clifford lifted the spot kick well over the crossbar.
Josh Lelan replaced Joe McNerney at the break and Reds enjoyed some decent possession at the second half without seriously testing Lincoln as both sides struggled to create much in the final third.
The Bognor keeper was called into action in the 70th minute when Josh Payne’s quickly-taken free kick put Young in on goal but Lincoln came out to smother his shot.
But it was the Rocks who nearly got their noses in front with 15 minutes to go. Substitute Ollie Pearce got past Lelan down the left and although his angled effort beat Mersin it drifted wide of the far post.
Reds went back in front in the 76th minute. Young’s lay-off to Lelan allowed the right back to deliver a good cross and defender Davies diverted it past Lincoln under pressure from Bawling.
But in the third minute of stoppage time Bognor drew level. They won three successive corners and from the third of them substitute Pearce’s in-swinger went straight in as Mersin failed to claim a ball which should have been his.
It turned out to be the last kick of normal time. Boldewijn replaced Young for extra time and he nearly created a third goal for Reds in the 94th minute. Andre Blackman’s pass sent him away down the right but his inviting ball across the face of goal was just too strong for Murphy, who sent it wide on the stretch. Lincoln then pushed a 25-yard free kick from Payne over the bar.
Conor Henderson came on for Payne for the second period of extra time and Reds pressed for a winner. It came in the 119th minute when Boldewijn produced a moment of quality, cutting inside from the right before burying his shot inside the far corner.
It was no more than Reds deserved on the balance of play and chances created, although Bognor showed why they are having such a good season.
Reds can now look forward to contesting silverware in the spring having won it last in 2005.
Reds: Mersin; Young (Boldewijn 90), McNerney (sub: Lelan 45), Garnett, Yorwerth, Blackman, Djalo, Payne (Henderson 104), Bawling, Clifford, Murphy. Unused sub: Morris