Though as it turns out, for the uninitiated, Crawley Down isn’t actually in Crawley. After a 5:15 pm pitch inspection deemed, to widespread disbelief, that the game would go ahead, finding the venue was a minor issue compared to actually getting there at all, given the horrific weather and resultant awful traffic. KO ended up being delayed 30 minutes until 8pm as, while Worthing’s players had made it, their kit hadn’t.
Eventually things got going and, wearing blue, the young Rebels grabbed an early lead, Stan Berry heading home after 3 minutes. Stan doubled the advantage on 19 minutes, capitalising on a poor clearance from the Crawley Down keeper, and passing the loose ball into the net from 18 yards. The hosts pulled one back on 25 minutes, following a brisk counter-attack, but the two goal cushion was restored soon after, Freddie Chester’s free kick rebounding off the post, Cavan Gratwick reacting quickest to poke the ball beyond the keeper.
With the filthy weather conditions showing no signs of abating, and the pitch becoming increasingly difficult to play on, it looked touch and go as to whether the game would be seen through to its conclusion. But continue it did, with the hosts reducing the deficit early in the second period, courtesy of Worthing’s continued tendency to present one gift-wrapped opening per game to their opponents. As the clock ticked past the hour mark, though, Cavan had pretty much sealed the contest with two further goals, giving us the Gratwick Gatwick Hat-trick. Evan Hoarty added some gloss with a lobbed finish on 74 minutes, and should have made it 7 shortly afterwards, only to round the keeper and miss the target.
Much credit to the lads for this battling performance – Crawley Down’s dogged low block was tough to play through, and the grim conditions were not conducive to Worthing’s usual style of football. The match was feisty at times, although ten yellow cards seemed rather excessive, but the squad gave as good as they got, and deservedly go into the hat/velvet bag/massive plastic drum for the First Round Proper.
With League One and Two clubs joining at this stage, we await the draw with interest, although details of when it will be conducted are shrouded in mystery at present.