As usual, Adam rang the changes; with Parsons, Crane and Aguiar dropping to the bench where they were joined by U-18/Academy starlet, Josh Gould. Danny Barker was left out all together as Taofiq Olomowewe made his debut at centre-half, a day after signing from Enfield Town. Saturday’s match winner, Kealy started the game alongside Rance and Colbran made his return from suspension.
A disastrous opening quarter meant Reds found themselves two-nil down, on an immaculate playing surface.
The first goal derived from a turn-and-hoof up the left touchline, by Tom Vickers that lead to George Taggart sprinting away, cutting inside his marker, Will Miles and drilling low past Perntreou at his near post.
Town soon doubled their tally, as a huge clearance from goalkeeper, Jason Tibble dissected Miles and Sam Rents, leaving Aaron Capon to latch on to it, hold off both of them and nonchalantly flick the ball into the bottom corner of a shocked KP’s net.
Two should have been three moments later, when an unmarked Capon, somehow, headed a left wing cross over a gaping goal.
The stunned visitors were lurching from one crisis to another, as debutant, Olomowewe brought down the lively Capon in the area, for a stonewall penalty. Fortunately, however, Perntreou came to his rescue, with a similar save to the one he pulled off from Tonbridge’s Alex Read, on Saturday. This time, using two hands to push away Sam Cole’s spot-kick.
It took The Bostik League side a full twenty-five minutes to realise that there was a goal at the other end of the pitch, when Miles sprayed a pass out to Starkey and then got on the end of the winger’s cross but, could only direct his header straight at the diving Tibble.
Darren Budd’s curler from just inside the box gave Tibble a simple catch, before Starkey played a 1-2 with Kealy and brought a flying save out of the Towner’s custodian.
Simon Johnson set the dangerous Capon racing away but he placed his lead-extending effort across the target and away from the back stick.
It took the combination of Perntreou and Clarke to keep the energetic number seven from getting in again, as the away team continued to look vulnerable at the back.
With the Manager’s half-time words still ringing in their ears, the diminutive Budd proceeded to find Colbran out on the right flank and his cross was only partially cleared to Jazz Rance. The homegrown wideman laid the ball back to Budd, who had made it to the edge of the penalty area and flashed a shot wide of the far upright.
Tibble beat Miles to a Rents corner, shortly after the centre-back had headed over from a similar set-piece routine.
Budd had a low effort comfortably saved while hesitation cost Starkey a go at goal, once Myles-Meekums had spotted him lurking in the box.
Sonny Dullaway skipped past Clarke’s tackle and fired the ball towards the near post, where Capon met it but was unable to keep his shot down, as he was challenged by Miles.
Colbran had an improvised overhead kick tipped over the bar by Tibble with Dan Tear bravely blocking a powerful drive from Miles, that had been headed down to him by Olomowewe.
Our returning right-back teed up substitute, Parsons who, effectively, passed it back to the ‘keeper before he had one more go himself but simply succeeded in making a ‘Mitre’ the first football in space.
Myles-Meekums managed to head over an open goal, from Aguiar’s delivery, with the home side down to ten men by this stage: Dullaway’s sarcasm incurring the ire of the referee and earning him a second caution.
Olomowewe, on the wrong end of a 1-4 thrashing as part of Enfield Town’s back four not so long ago, continued his (largely unconvincing) evening with a desperately timid daisy-cutter, until Starkey gave the scoreline an unfair closeness about it, by volleying in Myles-Meekums’ cross from around twelve yards out.
The visitors had only a pusillanimous punt by Kealy followed by an off-target header by Olomowewe to show for their night’s work after that, as the wait for Sussex Senior Cup glory extends into a twenty-first year.