Gill’s exquisite late strike spares wasteful Loxwood’s blushes

Cup Final - Loxwood (white) v Eastbourne (blue and yellow). 17-03-15. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150317-233435001

Cup Final - Loxwood (white) v Eastbourne (blue and yellow). 17-03-15. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150317-233435001

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A moment of magic from Ollie Gill spared ten-man Loxwood’s blushes against lowly Crawley Down Gatwick on Tuesday and moved them into fifth place.

The Magpies spurned numerous clear-cut chances in the first half either side of Mark Cave’s penalty midway through the half after Dean Wright was wiped out.

The home side – who have won just six points all season –made them pay for wasting their opportunities as an unmarked Sam Cane headed the Anvils level from a corner on the stroke of half-time.

Centre-back Clyde Jacques was shown what Loxwood felt was a harsh straight red card 15 minutes into the second half as he tussled with a forward ahead of Sam Smith racing out to clear the ball.

But despite the man disadvantage, the visitors dealt the blow to the Anvils through substitute’s Gill’s exquisite finish off the underside of the bar with six minutes remaining.

Magpies boss Dave Cocoracchio said: “As I predicted, it was not particularly easy, but we made it extremely hard work of it to be fair.

On paper we have a good run-in, before the start of the game I set the boys a target of what we want to do now this season and it’s up to us to achieve that.

Dave Cocoracchio

“For the first 35 minutes we were camped in their half and created untold chances. Four of which were absolute guilt-edged ones that you want to be taking every time.

“The main thing at this point of the season is taking the three points. There have been a lot of games we have drawn this season when we have deserved to win, so the most pleasing thing is the three points.

“On paper we have a good run-in, before the start of the game I set the boys a target of what we want to do now this season and it’s up to us to achieve that. The win has gained us our highest place we have been in the County League in fifth and that should give us the encouragement we need.”

The visitors could have been ahead on 15 minutes as great work by Shaun Findlay saw him pick out Tim Martin, but he headed straight at the keeper from five yards.

Dean Wright put over the bar and Gary Pritchard shot wide, before Wright was taken out in the box for the penalty.

Martin then put a header over, before Wright rounded the goalkeeper, but scuffed wide with the goal gaping and hit the post soon afterwards.

The hosts levelled after some poor defending on the stroke of half-time, and after Jacques’ sending-off, it took a fine finish from Gill to separate the two sides – although the visitors were forced to defend a couple of late set-pieces.

Loxwood: Smith, Hoyte, Scally, Jacques, Holvey, Pritchard (Gill 76), Swain (French 65), Cave, Findlay, Martin (Wood 59), Wright.