Rusthall 2 Crawley Down Gatwick 1 

INJURY CONCERN Steph Harper had to go off after a clash of heads

STEPH HARPER scored twice as the Rustics achieved a well-earned victory in the FA Vase against a talented Crawley Down Gatwick side.

Rusthall’s season is showing signs of improvement, this victory coming hot on the heels of a 2-0 midweek league success at Cray Valley after failing to win their last five matches.

The signing of goalkeeper Steve -Lawrence from local rivals Tunbridge Wells in midweek is another positive sign as the squad strengthens.

On the superb playing surface at the Jockey Farm Stadium both sides looked to play a passing game.

After a fine build-up, striker Danny Powell found space in the box but was unable to beat keeper Seb Bos.

Just before half-time, more impressive approach play by the hosts saw striker Harper show his ability, getting across his marker to stab a cross into the net.

On 53 minutes Rusthall doubled their lead. With Crawley Down pushing up, a ball over the top found Harper and the former Folkestone Invicta and Burgess Hill striker slotted home superbly from just inside the area.

Against the run of play Crawley Down pulled a goal back on 71 minutes when Nick Sullivan finished smartly.

With five minutes left the home side had a great chance to make the game safe, but Jacob Wright failed to find the net under a strong challenge.

The Rustics held firm and will now return their attention to the Southern Counties East Premier Division.

High-flying AFC Croydon Athletic visit Jockey Farm Stadium tonight (September 28, kick-off 7.45pm).