Crawley cruelly end Bognor's Sussex Senior Cup dream

Sami El-Abd levels for Bognor versus Crawley / Picture by Tim Hale
Sami El-Abd levels for Bognor versus Crawley / Picture by Tim Hale

Bognor lost at the semi-final stage of the Sussex Senior Cup for the second year running after a brave battle saw them take League Two Crawley to extra time.

The game at Sussex FA HQ at Lancing looked set to go to penalties only for Crawley to find the winner in the final minute, leaving Rocks hearts broken.
Now it's the League Two side who go into May's final at the Amex, where they will face the winners of next month's second semi-final between Eastbourne Borough and Brighton, while the loss leaves Bognor to concentrate on their efforts to win promotion from the Ryman premier division.


Dermot Drummy's team dominated the opening 25 minutes and took the lead through a Lewis Young finish, but Bognor came back into it and were deservedly level by half-time thanks to Sami El-Abd's close-range finish from a corner.
Reds went ahead with 12 minutes to go as Calvin Davies turned a cross past Dan Lincoln under pressure from Bobson Bawling. But the Rocks piled on the pressure in the dying minutes, sending keeper Lincoln forward for set-pieces, and a fourth straight corner in stoppage time, by Ollle Pearce, went straight in.
Just when penalties looked necessary, up popped Crawley sub Enzio Boldewijn to curl home the winner in the 119th minute.


For the Rocks this was an impressive fifth Sussex Senior Cup semi-final in eight years, with three appearances in the final, but no victories, since 2010.
They lost at this stage last season, going down 3-2 to Eastbourne Borough after extra-time.
Crawley went into the game with a strong line-up - two of the first XI and all four subs played in Town's League Two defeat to Morecambe at the weekend.


It was a cagey opening, with Crawley having most of the early play but not putting the Bognor defence under too much pressure.
Bawling weaved his way into the box and to the byline but put his low cross behind for a goal kick.
Crawley took and eighth-minute lead with a simple goal as a simple passing move through the centre - albeit aided by a deflection off the referee - saw Young run on to a pass and just beat Lincoln to it, clipping it past him and in.
Bawling might have quickly made it 2-0 with a far-post header from Young's cross but Lincoln saved from close range.


Billy Clifford almost profited from a loose pass by Doug Tuck on 17 minutes with a 25-yard effort that Lincoln stretched to push away for a corner.
Then Clifford's clever pass to find Rhys Murphy's run in on the keeper looked like it must bring a goal - but Lincoln got something on the striker's attempt to dink it over him.
A right-sided corner was headed goalwards by Josh Yorwerth but held by Lincoln as Crawley continued to dominate.
Bognor's brightest moment of the first 25 minuts came when Jimmy Muitt turned his man down the right and sent in a dangerous cross but there was no-one to get on the end of it. Then a brief spell of Rocks pressure ended in a low long-range shot by Chad Field that wasn't far wide.


Suddenly the Rocks had their tails up and Moone forced Yusuf Mersin into a sharp save with a drive that he had to turn around for a corner at the near post.
When the corner came in Field headed it into the six-yard box and El-Abd was there to force it in to make it 1-1 with 27 minutes gone.
As the Rocks continued to play with more confidence, Andre Blackman was booked for hauling down Moone as he got away down the inside right channel.
Crawley tried to regain control and Bawling sent a dangerous cross in from the left but it was beyond the strikers.
Dan Beck brought down Yorwerth eight minutes before the break as the Crawley ran on to a return pass into the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. But Clifford blazed over the bar from the spot.
HT 1-1


Crawley made a change for the second half, bringing on Josh Lelan for Joe McNerney.
It was a fairly frenetic start to the second half but both teams over-complicated things in attack.
Clifford wasted a free-kick on the angle of the Rocks by curling it over the bar. Pearce replaced Muitt in Bognor's first change.
Crawley were having plenty of possession but Bognor were working hard to stop them getting in behind the defence.
Harvey Whyte was having an excellent game down the Rocks right and played in Moone for a shot at goal but, from a tight angle, it was blocked by a defender.
Jimmy Wild replaced Moone midway through the second half.


Kaby Djalo played Young through on goal on 70 minutes but Lincoln timed his advance superbly to block his attempt to slide the ball home.
With 15 minutes left, Doug Tuck played in Pearce, who showed great strength to hold off his marker and fire a shot that beat Mersin but rolled the wrong side of the post.
Crawley regained the lead with 12 minutes of the 90 to go and it looked like cruel luck on Davies, who seemed to get the last touch in trying to prevent Bawling converting an awkward cross from the right.
The League Two side looked in for number three as the game entered its final ten minutes but Bognor got back in numbers to keep out Clifford.
Bognor made their final change in bringing Darren Budd on for the hard-working Whyte.
Field was booked as Crawley chased a killer third, conceding a free-kick just outside the D that Murphy crashed into the wall.
The Rocks would not give up and they sent their fans wild when the last in a succession of corners saw Pearce score direct from the kick to take it to extra time.
90 min score: 2-2


Crawley brought on Boldewijn for Young at the start of extra-time.
Pearce was eyeing up more dead-ball glory four minutes into the extra 30 when Bognor won a free-kick 22 yards out but it wasn't to be. Then Wild burst into the box only to be denied by a well-timed tackle.
A quick Crawley break from a poor Bognor corner should have seen Boldewjin's cross converted but two forwards missed it.
Clifford rifled a free-kick on target that Lincoln did well to palm over.
Crawley's final change resulted in Josh Payne being replaced by Conor Henderson.
ET HT: 2-2


It was difficult to pick a likely winner as the final segment of the game began, with tiring legs beginning to increase the number of passes misplaced - and few forward moves were causing alarm for either keeper.
But just as it looked like penalties were inevitable sub Boldewijn controlled a pass just inside the area and curled a left-footed shot beyond Lincoln and into the bottom corner.
Could the Rocks stage a third comeback? They tried - with Lincoln getting a head on a stoppage-time corner - but it was not to be.
Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Crane, Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Fraser, Beck, Muitt, Moone, Whyte. Subs: Charman, Pearce, Budd, Wild, Dolcetti.
Crawley: Mersin, Young, Payne, Blackman, Yowerth, Garnett, Bawling, Clifford, McNerney, Djalo, Murphy. Subs: Morris, Boldewijn, Lelan, Henderson.
Ref: Marc Meeten

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