Shaun Whalley hat-trick fires Accrington into FA Cup second round
Shaun Whalley bagged a hat-trick as Accrington booked a place in the FA Cup second round with a convincing 4-1 victory at League Two Crawley.
Stanley had fallen in the first round to fourth-tier sides in each of the previous three seasons, but made no mistake this time as Crawley suffered a first defeat under interim boss Lewis Young.
Young, who has made a strong case to keep the job on a permanent basis after replacing the sacked Kevin Betsy, claimed confidence was high going into the tie and the group of players was “better than any I’ve known previously”.
Young suffered a very early shock, however, when Tommy Leigh – looking suspiciously offside – had a shot blocked by on-loan keeper Ellery Balcombe and Whalley stroked home the rebound after just 45 seconds.
The Red Devils hit back to equalise on 18 minutes when Jack Powell’s corner was headed back for Jake Hessenthaler to head his first goal of the season.
But Accrington regained the advantage only four minutes later, Whalley heading in a Joey Pritchard cross from close range.
Ethan Hamilton made it 3-1 with his third of the season on the stroke of half-time, firing high into the net from Sean McConville’s short corner.
Crawley midfielder Jayden Davis had a shot cleared off the line by Mitch Clark before Whalley completed his hat-trick six minutes after the break, racing onto a through-ball by Pritchard to beat Balcombe in a one-on-one situation.
Whalley had a chance to bag a fourth goal but saw a shot deflect over after substitute Aramide Oteh had an effort scrambled over at the other end.
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