Lewes despatch Loxwood to claim a Senior Cup final spot at Amex Stadium

Ollie Rowe celebrates for Lewes against Loxwood - picture: James Boyes
Ollie Rowe celebrates for Lewes against Loxwood - picture: James Boyes

Lewes booked their place at the Amex Stadium thanks to a comfortable victory against Loxwood in the Sussex Senior Cup semi-final held at Lancing on Wednesday night.

The Rooks led 1-0 at the break thanks to Nicky Wheeler’s goal eight minutes before half-time and netted further goals in the second half through Aaron Hopkinson and Ollie Rowe.

They will face either Whitehawk or Burgess Hill at the Amex who contest their semi-final on March 3.

Loxwood, however, were left to curse the crucial second goal which was netted 19 second after the break when they had just ten men on the pitch.

Referee Leigh Crowhurst started the second period with the Magpies trying to make a substitution and bring Andre Elkana on for Shaun Findlay, who had not returned to the pitch.

The County League Division 1 side did give a good account of themselves and continued to battle after the break, but it was Lewes’ class that showed in the final third to separate the two teams on the night.

Wheeler earnt himself a yard on the edge of the Loxwood box on four minutes, but his goalbound effort was blocked away.

The Magpies’ first real venture forwards came on seven minutes as Ollie Gill put a ball through to Mark Cave inside the Lewes area, but he scuffed his effort on the turn.

A smart move on the right saw Michael Wood link with Tim Martin and the latter’s backheel to put in the winger was just cleared away.

Lewes’ best chance came from a free-kick on 17 minutes as Billy Bishop was equal to Tom Davis’ stinging effort which he tipped over the bar.

That resulted in some sustained pressure from the Rooks and from one of the resulting corners, Gary Elphick powered a header over the bar.

On 23 minutes, Matt Crabb shifted the ball onto his stronger foot after a well-worked throw on the right and lashed an effort towards the far corner that skimmed off the top of the bar.

Joe Holvey’s evening was cut short on the half-hour mark as he pulled up as Wheeler eased past him on the right and he was replaced by Matt Hoyte.

Lewes took the lead in style on 37 minutes as a Matt Crabb free-kick from the right found Wheeler at the far posts and the winger expertly finished on the volley into the far bottom corner.

Disaster struck for Loxwood no doubt with their half-time team talk still ringing in their ears and found themselves 2-0 down after 19 seconds of the restart.

Hopkinson finished smartly after the ball was played down their right, but the goal wasn’t without it’s controversy as left-winger Shaun Findlay had not returned to the field.

With play stuck in the middle of the pitch it wasn’t until just past the hour mark that the game saw its next chance.

Romain tried an ambitious overhead from the edge of the area which sailed harmlessly wide, although his effort moments later was a little more troubling to Bishop as it came back off the post.

Loxwood’s endeavours were let down by their final ball as a good move down the right saw Gill knock through to Wood, but his cross was blocked by Martin.

At the other end, Elphick had his effort cleared off the line, while Lewes were denied what looked a clear penalty after a lunge in the box.

The Magpies’ first effort of the half on target came from substitute Andre Elkana as his low effort from just inside the box was well held by Brandon Hall.

It was almost 3-0 baring a lick of paint, as Davis sent a screamer from outside the box onto the inside of the post and out again as the ball broke to him with 14 minutes remaining. After that sharp, reactions from Bishop, with a smart double save, prevented the Rooks from adding to their tally.

The stopper could do nothing, however, as a whipped ball was put back in after a corner and Ollie Rowe glanced home a header.

Lewes: Hall, S.Crabb, Marshall, Elphick (Malins 76), Rowe, Hopkinson, Breach, Davis (Willock 80) Wheeler, M.Crabb, Romain. Subs: Blewden, Robinson, Burbridge. Attendance: 392.

Referee: Leigh Crowhurst.