Three Bridges 0 Crawley Down Gatwick 2: Paul Cooper’s men give Bridges a lesson in finishing

Crawley Down Gatwick's Oli Leslie scored two goals against Hailsham.'Picture by Steve Robards.
Crawley Down Gatwick's Oli Leslie scored two goals against Hailsham.'Picture by Steve Robards.

Crawley Down Gatwick progressed to the Third Round of the Peter Bentley League Cup with a 2-0 win away against local derby rivals Three Bridges.

They showed their hosts how to put the ball in the back of the net as well as defending defiantly at times.

Crawley Down Gatwick manager Paul Cooper.'Picture by Steve Robards

Crawley Down Gatwick manager Paul Cooper.'Picture by Steve Robards

Anvils manager Paul Cooper praised his side’s display.

He said: “Much better performance from us. The first time this season we have stepped up a gear and played close to the levels that we know we can.

“It’s been a tough start player availability wise and again I had my normal centre back pairing both suspended so we played a back-four who have never played together.

“Sam Cane another regular is on his honeymoon so missed it, it was Mike Spence’s first game this season as he missed all pre-season and another two pulled up in the warm-up due to injury.

“So it really was a good performance from all those involved given the circumstances.

“I thought the first half was very even, Nick took his goal very well second half to make it 1-0 and then obviously Bridges pushed for an equalizer but with the likes of Oli (Leslie), Nick (Sullivan), and Ben (Brooker) about, there’s goals in the team.

“Oli won and put the penalty away to make it 2-0 and we stood strong and defended there in after.”

How Bridges didn’t manage to find the net remains a mystery as they have enough proven goalscorers in their line-up, but despite creating a wealth of chances they squandered too many and were thwarted by a defence marshalled superbly by Down skipper Blair Cooney.

Bridges newcomer Scott Day fired into the side netting as Bridges opened adventurously, but the Anvils responded with Lee Thomas seeing his cross shot tipped over the bar by Kieron Thorp.

And the visitors had an excellent chance to take the lead when Lee Hall’s misplaced pass left Nick Sullivan with just Thorp to beat, but his final shot was far too tame to trouble the Bridges keeper.

Anvils keeper Seb Bos was then called into action as he held a Connor French header and a Day volley, but he was grateful to see Nathan Crabb shoot wide of the far post after his pace left Josh Martin struggling to keep up.

But later Martin showed his own speed and almost created an opening for his team.

Bridges lost French to injury early in the second half but his replacement Trevor McCreadie, making his Bridges debut at last, came with a solid reputation with almost a goal a game for Haywards Heath last season.

He had an effort cleared off the line in the last minute of normal time, but even he couldn’t find that vital touch as the ball squirted across the Crawley Down area with almost monotonous regularity.

So, it was probably typical that the visitors should show them how it was done and a break in the 53rd minute left Thorp trying to force Nick Sullivan wide, but the experienced striker kept his cool and finished in style.

And it got even worse for the home side when the referee pointed to the penalty spot for a foul just inside the box, Oli Leslie calmly firing home to double Down’s advantage in the 70th minute.

A much needed win for Crawley Down Gatwick but further Cup despair for Paul Faili’s Bridges.

Bridges: Thorp, Collins, Newman-Knott, Hall, Crellin, Peters, Crabb, Lansdale (Johnson 66), French (McCreadie 49), Day, Somo (Casselman 66).

Unused subs: Grant, Odefin.

Crawley Down Gatwick: Bos, Malton, Martin, Peauroux, Cooney, Packham, Sullivan, Spence (Alcock 60), Sullivan (Brooker 80), Leslie (Greig 73); Thomas.

Unused subs: Belli, Barton.

Men of the Match: Kyne Newman Knott (Bridges) and Blair Cooney (Crawley Down Gatwick).