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Salts strike Anvils from League Cup

Crawley Down Gatwick 2-3 Epsom & Ewell FC. Southern Combination League Peter Bentley Cup – Second Round. Tuesday 6th September 2022. Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk Reporter: Richard Lambert.

Our first ever visit to the Haven produced a fine performance from our boys as they knocked Step Five Crawley Down Gatwick out of the Southern Combination Peter Bentley League Cup on Tuesday evening.

We had obviously given Step Five Redhill a decent match recently in the FA Vase, so our Management will have expected nothing less in this contest, despite being underdogs on paper. Fortunately we were able to recall Richard Pingling after his two match suspension was completed, although in the absence of Gideon Acheampong, Johnny “Sonic” Akoto came in at right back and Ricardo Fernandes took on the Captain’s armband.

The Haven has changed greatly since my previous visit in the 1990s and it has become an enclosed and extremely picturesque tree-lined venue. However, there is limited cover behind both goals and a rainstorm accompanied the opening minutes of the contest!

Fortunately it subsided quickly and we got off to a fine start. A Ryan Smith long range effort was deflected wide for a corner and from Smith’s low set-piece delivery to the near post in the fifth minute the ball was casually flicked into the roof of the net on the half-volley by Brad Peters, who has now registered four goals already this season. Not bad for a centre-half!

Pingling was inches wide of the far post with a low strike from a Fernandes pass, while Jaevon Dyer found himself in a great position, only to scuff his shot and the danger was cleared. Fernandes had a similar opportunity just before this and Peters headed a Smith free kick over the bar, before Pingling then intercepted a poor back pass but was then smothered by about four defenders before he could make it count. We thoroughly deserved our lead at the half and arguably it could have been larger, with the only concerns being a harsh yellow card for Jubril “Jibs” Adamson and a sin-bin for Zach Powell in the 37th minute, which was still in force as the teams went off at the half, with only a header wide of the target and a shot blocked just before the break being registered by the hosts to this point.

The second half would be more even in terms of possession, but shortly after Powell returned to the field of play we had extended our lead. A fantastic pass from Gavin Quintyne in the 47th minute was sent perfectly into the stride of substitute Josh Owen who chested the ball down, before striking the ball across the keeper into the far corner for his first goal for our club.

Crawley Down pulled a goal back in the 59th minute with a ball through our defence that was struck low beyond Matt Walton from close range, but just five minutes later we restored our two goal lead and this time the superb assist came from Pingling, way out on the right hand touchline; his deep ball to the far post being met by a left-footed volley from Fernandes about four yards out, giving the home keeper no chance.

Further substitutions came as Nick Wilson, Adam Grant and then Josh Alder came on in quick succession. I’m not sure what anyone else thinks about the new five substitutes rule, but one thing is for certain, the games become far more stop-start in the second half as up to ten stoppages can occur now. It certainly seemed to break up our flow and the home side started to press us back a lot more as they chased the match.

A long range strike looped up off a defender and just dropped over Walton’s bar, but the respite was brief as the subsequent corner was met with a far post header from close range in the 78th minute as the hosts reduced the score to 3-2, and we picked up an unnecessary card when Alder kicked the ball away. It did seem a little harsh on our boys who seemed to be penalised for things in this match that the opponents didn’t, and by the end even free kicks were being taken from advanced positions with the officials seeming not to notice. As the time ran down, a long range strike was tipped over the bar by Walton, but by now we were in the sixth minute of injury time and the final whistle blew shortly afterwards to confirm our progress.

This was a thoroughly deserved win against a good team and in truth I felt that the scoreline should probably have been wider on the balance of play, but ultimately we claimed the win and will now host Broadbridge Heath in the last 16 of the competition.

Epsom & Ewell: Matt Walton, Johnny “Sonic” Akoto, Zach Powell, Ryan ‘Butch’ Smith, Brad Peters, Aaron Bogle, Ricardo Fernandes (c), Gavin Quintyne, Richard Pingling, Jubril “Jibs” Adamson, Jaevon Dyer

Subs: Josh Owen for Adamson (41), Nick Wilson for Dyer (60), Adam Grant for Smith (68), Josh Alder for Pingling (80)

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