Stunning fightback sees Golds through in FA Cup thriller

Golds players celebrate after Ben Gray's late winner. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Golds players celebrate after Ben Gray's late winner. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Littlehampton Town Football Club came from two goals down to book their spot in the FA Cup first qualifying round on Sunday.

Efforts from George Gaskin, Lee Garnham and Ben Gray in the final 30 minutes helped them to a 3-2 home success over fellow Southern Combination League Premier Division outfit Eastbourne United in a preliminary round encounter at The Sportsfield.

United were two goals ahead courtesy of strikes from Adebola Sotoyinbo and Tyler O’Callaghan with less than 35 minutes to go, before Golds staged a stunning fightback.

After overcoming Southern Counties East Premier Division Chatham Town in an extra-preliminary round replay last Wednesday, Littlehampton made it two FA Cup victories in the space of four days with a win over United.

Golds bagged £1,925 in prize money following the success and have been handed a home draw against division-higher Bostik League South Chipstead in the first qualifying round on Sunday, September 3.

Littlehampton boss Ady Baker was delighted after his side served up a sensational fightback and said: “It could only get better after a really poor first half performance. They (Eastbourne United) netted just before the break, then added another soon after the restart to leave us with it all to do.

George Gaskin wheels away following his goal. Picture by Stephen Goodger

George Gaskin wheels away following his goal. Picture by Stephen Goodger

“Some of the football we played in the final 30 minutes was exceptional and we deserved to turn things around.

“We’ve got some real winners in this team who refused to accept defeat at 2-0 down. The team kept pushing and to play the way we did in the final 30 minutes can give the team great confidence moving forward.”

A dismal first half display from Golds was capped when United went ahead a minute prior to the interval. Sotoyinbo was the man to hand his side a one-goal lead at half-time.

Littlehampton were left with it all to do as O’Connor doubled Eastbourne’s lead eight minutes after the restart.

Lee Garnham is mobbed after levelling things up in the FA Cup clash with Eastbourne United. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Lee Garnham is mobbed after levelling things up in the FA Cup clash with Eastbourne United. Picture by Stephen Goodger

A smart finish from Gaskin gave Golds hope on the hour, before Garnham’s powerful header back across goal got the home side back on terms three minutes later.

Littlehampton were in control now with Alex Laing denied by a post and Gray striking the crossbar.

With the tie looking destined for a replay. Gray curled a superb effort into the top corner to make it 3-2 two minutes from the end.

Golds stood firm in the closing stages to ensure they progressed past United following a stunning fightback.

LITTLEHAMPTON TOWN: Hutchings; Wiggans, McKay, O’Hagan, Farrell, Gray; Noble, Garnham, Kempson; Laing, Gaskin. Subs: Bell (McKay, 55), Pattenden (Laing, 75), Chaplin (Laing, 80), M.Bromage.

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