Newhaven Reserves fell to their 6th consecutive defeat but can count themselves very unlucky.
Some strange referee decisions put paid to the Dockers’ efforts in a match they looked destined to win after a fine first half performance.
Goals from Harry Millar and Luke Duchossoy before half time put the Dockers 2-1 up going into the break but the second half proved to be a different story when there was an early Southwick equaliser.
Then the referee took centre stage making some bizarre decisions including turning down a stone wall Dockers penalty and then to everyone’s surprise in the ground he awarded the Wickers a penalty with ten minutes to go when everyone was getting ready for a goal kick. A 4th Wickers goal in the dying moments was the final nail in the coffin.
Calum Burnett, Gary Holmes and Tom Stevenson returned to the starting line up and Harry Millar, from the youth team, made his Reserves debut.
And it was Millar who struck first when he was played through by Holmes on ten minutes and lobbed the onrushing goalkeeper to open the scoring.
However the Dockers’ joy was shortlived when an innocuous backpass to Harry Stewart bobbled over his foot when he went to clear and the Southwick striker tapped into an empty net (1-1).
The Dockers bounced back though with shots from Stevenson, Millar and Cullinane. Holmes and Duchossoy held the ball up well in attack and allowed the midfield to press and dominate.
Eventually Newhaven regained the lead when Millar played in Duchossoy who made no mistake with a shot past the keeper (2-1).
Then a moment of controversy followed when the ball went out for a throw by the Wickers dugout and when Holmes went to retrieve the Wickers manager kicked the ball away. Joe McTiffen then kicked the ball back and it struck the Southwick manager who then, to players and supporters disbelief, headbutted McTiffen and was sent off by the referee who had no alternative.
Play resumed eventually and Duchossoy had a chance to kill the game when he wriggled past the last defender in the box but just dragged his left foot shot wide. (H/T)
The Dockers started the second half slowly and it was Southwick who looked the more dangerous with Stewart called into action saving shots down low and keeping the Dockers in the match and making amends for his earlier mistake.
Then the next moment of controversy when a Newhaven attack down the left side was played into the box and when the ball bobbled up and struck the Wickers centre backs hand the referee unbelieveably waved play on despite the Dockers cries for a penalty.
Shortly after Stewart was again on his toes smartly saving a one on one but his deflected save fell to another Southwick striker who placed the ball in the far corner for the equaliser.
Bradley Keith replaced skipper Mason and Damien Lambert replaced Holmes. Millar then had a great chance on the edge of the box to regain the lead but he scuffed his right foot shot and the chance went.
Then with ten minutes left on the clock the referee made an even more amazing decision when he blew for a Southwick penalty when no-one, including the Wickers players, knew what was going on.
When he pointed to the spot all players and staff were dumbfounded. A very harsh decision indeed and the resulting penalty was despatched to make it 2-3. This well and truly knocked the stuffing out of the Reserves and with minutes to play and the Dockers pushing for an equaliser they were caught on the break and it was 2-4.
A very controversial afternoon at Fort Road and not a happy experience for those playing or watching.
The Reserves go to Bexhill next Saturday when a change of luck must be due very soon.
Harry Stewart, Joe McTiffen, Josh Tomkins, Barry Knight, Calum Burnett, Tom Mason (Bradley Keith), Harrison Cullinane, Harry Millar, Tom Stevenson (Jack Webber), Gary Holmes (Damien Lambert), Luke Duchossoy. Unused sub: Nigel Wallace