Saturday 5th January 2019
Southern Combination League
Saltdean Utd 2 Crawley Down Gatwick 2
Author: Donal Barrett
Crawley Down Gatwick rallied from 2-0 down, away at Saltdean United on Saturday, to earn a thoroughly deserved point after a pulsating highly entertaining game in the SCFL Premier Division.
It was clear from the outset that both teams were intent on going all out for a win and it made for exciting end to end fare in bitterly cold conditions.
The home side took the lead after 15 minutes when after some hesitant defending the hugely influential Jamie Brotherton played in Baillie Rogers and he finished well at the back post. The Anvils continued to press forward and Michael Belli had two shots from dangerous positions but without really troubling Nathan Stroomberg in the home goal. Things got worse for the visitors when on 34 minutes Brotherton played in Ross Barclay with a delightful header. The striker still had a lot to do but converted with a lovely dinked finish over the despairing Andy Greaves to open his account for Saltdean. This setback, which came a bit against the run of play, simply caused the Anvils to redouble their efforts and within a minute they got their reward. Michael Belli sent in a delightful free kick. Marc Pelling connected with a great header which the keeper could only parry and arch poacher, Nick Sullivan, was on had to supply the close in finish. It was 2-1 to the hosts at the break.
The second half continued in the same vein with both sides going at it hammer and tongs. Crawley Down, if anything, seemed even more committed and energised in the second period. Michael Belli attempted a cheeky lob but could not clear the keeper. At the other end the Anvils survived a couple of self-inflicted scares which Saltdean failed to capitalise on. The Anvils continued to threaten. Sam Cane shot over when well placed and Oli Leslie was narrowly wide with a shot that flew just the wrong side of the post. Eventually a well deserved equaliser arrived in the 79th minute. Substitute, Josh Martin, went on one of his trade mark marauding runs. He finished it off with a great through ball to Nick Sullivan who raced forward and hit a fierce shot which found the net despite the best efforts of keeper Stroomberg. It was no more than the visitors deserved. It almost ended on an even higher note for the Anvils when in the dying moments Michael Wood, who was again impressive for the Anvils, curled a great shot that hit the base of the upright and much to the relief of the home crowd rolled harmless away for a goal kick.
The Match finished 2-2 which on the balance of 90 minutes play seemed about right. Games like these are what make football the compelling spectacle that it is.
Crawley Down Gatwick: Andy Greaves, Sonny Barton (Josh Martin), Billy Wraight, Andy Goodwin (Oli Leslie), Blair Cooney, Marc Pelling, Michael Spence, Michael Belli, Sam Cane (Dan Sullivan), Nick Sullivan, Michael Wood.
Updated 22:57 - 6 Jan 2019 by Michael Martin
Unused substitutes: Lewis Croal, Connor Baston.
MOM: Nick Sullivan