Sussex FA RUR Charity Cup 3rd Round
Match Rating: 3
With this being my week off from work, I was strongly tempted by a visiting a new ground for me, Basildon United, this evening. However, the predictable lengthy tailbacks approaching the Dartford Crossing put me off, and instead I opted to visit a club I visited regularly for midweek games when I lived in the area up to a few years ago.
Not much has changed in and around the ground since my last visit early last season, including the excessive admission fee for this level of football, sadly. But Crowborough Athletic is certainly a club going places these days, having recruited several players with good experience of playing at a higher level, and a plastic pitch is due to be installed here next summer, and perhaps with this ambition, supporters are asked to accept their share of the increased costs. The programme remained of good quality, a glossy and full colour 16 page publication which had a good combination of the necessary stats and some interesting articles.
This would be an interesting match between two of the better teams in their respective divisions, a reflection of their larger-than-most budgets. It would also be an opportunity to renew old acquaintances for Crowborough with former adversaries in the Southern Combination Football League, which they were reluctantly obliged to leave a couple of seasons ago. They now play in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division, and were in second place, with ten wins and a draw from their 13 league games, winning their last 6 league games, their last 11 in all competitions, and are unbeaten in their last 14 league and cup games. Shoreham have an even better record, top of the Southern Combination League Premier Division, with 12 wins and one defeat from their 13 league games, although they have exited 2 cup competitions in the last fortnight.
On a chilly but dry evening, this match almost saw a goal in the first minute, Dan Perry shooting over the bar inside the 6 yard box. On 8 minutes, Shoreham took the lead on 8 minutes when a curling shot by George Gasking from outside the area went over the keeper and into the net. Crowborough were not helped by having to make two substitutions in the opening half hour, but they came close several times to getting back on level terms, but it was the visitors who held the lead at half time.
The game became a little disappointing after the break, with frequent mistakes creeping into the play, although both teams continued to carve out some opportunities, which dried up for Crowborough as the game approached 90 minutes and it looked like Shoreham's early goal would be enough to seal their progress, But a minute into added on time, a shot that looked like it was going over anyway brushed the fingertips of the keeper to concede a corner, from which Jason Barton headed the ball inside the post. There was still time, in the fourth minute of added on time, for a mishit Shoreham shot to be hacked away from the line, and the game went into extra time.
Shortly after Crowborough went down to ten men, after a fourth player had to go off injured, they took the lead when captain Henry Muggeridge hit a low shot on the turn to find the back of the net. and so the home side led 2-1 at half time in extra time. Both teams then came very close to scoring, before Shoreham did on 113 minutes when, following a corner, Lee Denyer sent the ball inside the far post with a near post flicked header. But two minutes later, Crowborough were awarded a penalty when the keeper brought down a striker in the area. Ross Treleaven struck the ball powerfully into the top left corner. The result was put beyond all doubt in added on time when Henry Muggeridge intercepted an attempted weak back pass, ran down the line before cutting towards goal and firing home from a fairly tight angle through the keeper.
So it was Crowborough who progressed to the quarter-finals and a home tie against Little Common of the Southern Combination League Division One. It was an excellent performance from Crowborough - although the quality of their play was lacking at times, they did excellently to keep going right to the end of normal time when it looked like they would be going out of the competition, and to progress despite two first half substitutions and having to play most of extra time with ten men.