County League Horsham YMCA sprang a real shock to dump Lewes out of the Sussex Senior Cup on Tuesday night.
YM boss Peter Buckland had promised to attack and after a goalless first-half, they did just that as the excellent Nick Sullivan scored twice and had a hand in both an own goal and Dave Brown’s strike as the Ryman Premier visitors were left stunned trailing 4-0.
YM were thankful to goalkeeper Sam Smith for two crucial saves, and although Ross Travelean did net a late consolation it proved a chastising evening for the Rooks while YM reached the quarter-finals and celebrated one of the best victories in their history.
YM’s defence were hit by illnesses to Kevin Burgess and Lee Wood near to kick off but otherwise were at full strength, while Lewes named a strong side mixed with some youth players.
Lewes created three half chance inside the opening 15 minutes, the clearest when the ball dropped out of the sky from a corner to Luke Blewden, whose first-time volley from inside the box whistled just past the crossbar.
YM, though were quickly into their stride, enjoying plenty of possession and working to limit their visitors’ space.
They struggled to really test the Lewes defence however, their only sighter in the first half coming after 33 minutes when, from a corner Craig Grantham’s header struck Rooks defender Steve Brinkhurst and goalkeeper Rikki Banks gathered.
A largely uneventful first half ended with Rooks defender Andy Pearson heading straight at Sam Smith from five yards before the YM stopper Smith did well to keep out a Dixon strike which bounced up awkwardly in front of him.
If the first half was low key the second half was a polar opposite, especially from the County One hosts who came flying out the traps.
Brown had already been denied by Rooks keeper Rikki Banks from the angle when Nick Sullivan put YM one up on 48 minutes. He looked to have been fouled by a defender inside the box but showed great determination to pick himself up and get his shot away and then excellent reactions when it came back off the post to score at the second time of asking.
The goal seemed to visibly sap the life out of Lewes while YM were buoyant, and far from sit back on their lead they scored a second on 55 minutes through that man again Nick Sullivan.
A beautifully weighted ball over the last defender from midfielder Liam Hunter allowed the club’s top scorer to nip in ahead of Banks and lob the goalkeeper with a classy finish.
At the other end YM goalkeeper Smith came to their rescue with a fine save to somehow deny Matt Crabb, who must have thought he had scored, and he then dived to keep out Josh Jibbrandy’s header from a corner.
But any nerves from the hosts were soon settled by a third goal which Nick Sullivan again played a big part in. He robbed a defender outside his own area, skipped past another challenge and although Brinkhurst got to the ball first, he lashed his attempted clearance into his own net.
And to rub salt in the wound YM had a fourth a minute later. Nick Sullivan began the move before slipping in Brad Curtis on the left, and his low cross was steered in at the back post by Brown.
With eight minutes remaining Travelean drilled across goal and in as Smith was finally beaten, but by then the result was already beyond doubt and YM will await the draw to see who they will face in the quarter-finals.
Although Dan Sullivan proved the difference on the night it was an excellent overall team performance, typified by the determination of YM’s central midfielders Ash Dugdale and Hunter.
YM (4-4-2): Smith; D Sullivan, Evans, O’Carroll, Crane; D Curtis (R Curtis 85), Brown, Hunter (Hutchings 72), Dugdale; Grantham (McCrae 60), N Sullivan.
Rooks: (4-4-1-1): Banks, Brinkhurst, Crabb, Jibbrandy, Pearson (Lightwood 65); Travelean, M-Williams (Logan 60), Walder, Dixon; Blewden, Keith.