RUR Charity Cup Round Four: Peacehaven 3 Littlehampton Town 2 – report by Alex Panton.
Two nil down, three two up, is Peacehaven’s name on the cup?
They will certainly believe so after a dramatic late comeback saw them book their place in the semi final of the RUR cup.
Craig Bunch’s extra time winner completed a revival which his side had left almost literally to the last moment. Two goals in the last five minutes of normal time from Ashley Rees had cancelled out a Littlehampton lead which up to that point had appeared completely secure, and saved Haven from an ignominious exit to division two opposition.
It was a victory which owed more to fight than finesse, as Peacehaven had struggled throughout against determined opposition. On a bitingly cold night they never really got going, and many were resigned to defeat long before their revival began.
Littlehampton had moved into a two-goal lead thanks to two strikes from their captain Mitchell Hand, and some inspired goalkeeping from Jon Hendricks had denied the home side a way back into the match. There is no doubting the spirit in this Peacehaven side however, and once the dam had broken there was only going to be one winner.
Littlehampton may be in a lower division, but with the likes of Lee Garnham and George Gaskin in their ranks no one would have been underestimating them.
Peacehaven were without Ryan McBride thanks to a troublesome wisdom tooth, and Shaun Saunders left Rob O’Toole and Ashley Jones on the bench.
The visitors led at the break thanks to a well-placed free kick from Hand, and the match appeared to be slipping beyond Peacehaven when substitute Ashley Harper was brought down by Joe Adams. Hand hit his second from the penalty spot, and Peacehaven had a mountain to climb.
They established a base camp when Rees, arriving late at the back post, scrambled in his fourth goal of the week.
With Rob O’Toole and Craig Bunch introduced to pep up their attack, Peacehaven now surged forward, sensing that they were still in the contest. Kevin Keehan and Wes Tate both spurned chances, but the tide was turning.
Time appeared to be running out when Rees at last found some space in the box and found a way past Hendricks.
Littlehampton were completely crushed, and their misery was complete when Bunch, almost a forgotten figure in recent months, supplied a fine finish to complete the home side’s comeback.
TEAM: Adams, Hall, Millis (O’Toole), Gunn (Bunch), Kneller (Jones), Swetman, Keehan, Dunk, Rees, Tate, Dryer.