Crawley breezed through to the third round of the Sussex Senior Cup this evening as a professional performance saw the Red Devils defeat Lancing 6-1 at Culver Road. Both Alex Battle and James Tilley grabbed a brace to compliment wonderful strikes from Jake Hessenthaler and Amrit Bansal-McNulty.
Crawley started the game with electric pace and looked to cause the Lancers trouble in the opening exchanges. James Tilley was finding plenty of room to express himself on the right-wing, and with a deflected shot, won the Reds the first corner of the game. After a series of deflections, the ball fell to the feet of Joel Lynch, who stabbed an effort past the goalkeeper. The linesman, however, was well-positioned to see that Lynch had strolled into an offside position.
Despite Crawley’s early pressure, Lancing manufactured a brilliant chance and, had it not been for Blondy Nna Noukeu, the home side would have taken the lead. A quick counter-attack caught Crawley sleeping, and a two vs one situation soon broke out. The Lancers winger slid a delightful ball across the box towards the number nine who had just Blondy to beat. The Cameroonian spread himself and made a crucial block to keep the score level.
The Reds were soon back in control and began to create several dangerous attacks as they searched for an opener. Alex Battle was denied twice in quick succession by the Lancing goalkeeper, who was impressing in the early stages.
Crawley were no longer in search shortly after as a Jake Hessenthaler rocket opened the scoring in the 29th minute. Sloppy defending from Lancing resulted in the ball falling loose deep inside their territory. Hessenthaler was first to react and picked out the top corner from the edge of the area.
The Reds doubled their lead ten minutes later, this time through Battle. The Crawley striker was clever to pounce on a loose touch from a Lancing centre-back, which saw him one-on-one with the Lancers goalkeeper. A cool, calm and collected finish followed as Battle tucked the ball under the goalkeeper to double Crawley’s advantage.
Just minutes into the second half, Crawley had a third goal. James Tilley burst free inside the Lancing penalty area after good strength from Battle gave the midfielder plenty of time with the ball. Despite a strong challenge from a Lancing defender, Tilley thundered an effort into the far top corner.
The home side were beginning to fall apart, and it looked like it would only be a matter of minutes before Crawley added a fourth goal. Both Tilley and Frost dragged shots agonisingly close to the goal in quick succession. Just moments later, Crawley did have a fourth goal as Alex Battle secured his second of the game. Sam Ashford did brilliantly with the ball at his feet on the edge of the area before getting clattered by a Lancing defender. The ball fell loose inside the box, and the advantage was played, which allowed Battle to take a touch and dispatch the ball into the back of the net.
Lancing pulled a goal back in the 75th minute as a Lancing corner was not dealt with by Crawley, and after several deflections, the ball was turned into the back of the net. Nna Noukeu made a brilliant save in the buildup, but the ball cannoned straight back off a Reds player and fell to the feet of Will Berry, who tapped into an empty net.
All hopes of a Lancing comeback were dashed when James Tilley grabbed his second goal of the game with a little under ten minutes to play. Another thunderous effort beat the goalkeeper at the near post.
Crawley rounded off a professional performance with a spectacular goal from Amrit Bansal-McNulty. The midfielder picked up the ball just inside of the Lancing half and produced a glorious effort with the otuside of his boot to beat the goalkeeper from an outrageous distance.
REDS XI: Nna Noukeu, Davies, Francillette, Lynch, Tsaroulla (Matthews 60’), Tilley, Hessenthaler, Powell, Marshall (Frost 46’), Battle (Bansal-McNulty 75’), Ashford