JOSH KERR went from zero to hero as he helped Albion under-23s retain the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup against Crawley.

The centre-back looked to have lost his side the trophy in a replay of last year’s final with an own goal after 67 minutes, but two minutes of late madness saw him nod the winning goal past Yusuf Mersin to seal a 2-1 victory for his side at the Amex tonight.

Simon Rusk’s young Seagulls fought back bravely and looked to be out of luck, with playmaker James Tilley thundering the crossbar in the 67th minute and chances going begging, and Crawley taking the lead 60 seconds after that.

The 19-year-old looked likely to make something happen for Albion, majestically pulling the strings between midfield and attack and being useful in possession.

He pulled Albion level in the 82nd minute after poor defending from Cedric Evina, with Tilley finishing from close range.

A moment of madness from Mersin one minute later almost cost his side as he was caught dwelling on the ball in his area.

Mersin, who has only made a few appearances for Reds this season and is out of contract, was dispossessed and gave away a penalty, only to deny Tilley his second of the game – a decent save but poor effort.

The corner that came from it, though, proved the defining moment.

A good cross from Alex Cochrane found the head of Kerr, who won his side the match and a 14th Sussex Senior Cup.

The match winner said: "When you see that ball going into the net it's the worst feeling ever, but you can't just stop there, you've still got a job to do for the team.

"I've never been so relieved (than when he scored)."

Crawley took the lead just a minute after Tilley’s crossbar effort, perhaps against the run of play, through an unfortunate own goal from Kerr.

Enzio Boldewijn, a thorn in the side of the Albion defence all night, found space on the right wing to drill a grounded cross which was turned in by the centre-back.

Albion should have been ahead in the first half, with the best chance falling to Dessie Hutchinson.

A lofted through ball to Jonah Ayunga fooled the Crawley defence, who thought they had caught him offside, but the forward took a poor first touch and was forced to turn back.

It fell into the path of playmaker Tilley who spurned his attempt to strike the ball, but skipper Hutchinson did not do much better as he rocketed over from just inside the box.

Crawley saw more of the ball in the opening 25 minutes and kept it better, but showed no signs of testing Brighton-born Billy Collings in the Seagulls’ goal.

The most Reds made 20-year-old Collings do in the opening 45 in front of their vocal travelling support was when Moussa Sanoh cut inside from the left and whipped in a bending cross.

Josh Payne smashed an eye-catching half-volley just wide of the post on 32 minutes, but it was always going away from the target.

Lewis Young, who was in rich goalscoring vein towards the end of the league season, played in a more advanced role than his right-back spot, and nearly got a tap-in in the 37th minute, but needed longer legs to reach it.

Teams: Albion 4-4-2: Collings; Meekums, O’Sullivan, O’Hora, Kerr; Ajiboye, Hutchinson, Tilley, Cochrane; Longman, Ayunga

Subs: Vose, Radulovic (Ayunga, 51) , Lubacic (Ajiboye, 77), Tutt, Weaire

Crawley 4-4-2: Mersin; McNerney, Yorwerth, Tajbakhsh, Evina; Young, Clifford, Payne, Bulman; Sanoh, Boldewijn

Subs: Morris, Djalo (Clifford, 60)

Referee: Matthew Goldsmith

Attendance: 1,503