Newhaven’s promotion bid took another blow on Saturday afternoon as they conceded an injury time goal in a 3-2 defeat at Loxwood.
For a second consecutive week the Dockers had thrown away a 2-1 lead and been unable to pick up the three points required for a place back in the top division of the Sussex County Football League.
On an unusually sunny day at Plaistow Road it was the visitors that led at half-time thanks to a rare Scott Edwards goal.
Elliot Hawkes levelled ten minutes after the break before Mark Probert restored the Dockers’ lead. But two goals in the last five minutes, from Matt Dingle and Matt Merridew, won the three points for the hosts.
Newhaven made two changes to the side that had started the defeat at Mile Oak. Dave Altendorff and Luke Duchossoy came in to the team, in place of substitute Jason Goddard and the unavailable Ebou Jallow.
In complete contrast to the farcical conditions at Mile Oak Rec, the pitch at Loxwood was dry and sun-soaked.
The home side applied the early pressure, forcing Newhaven back but without really testing Jake Buss.
The visitors settled in to the game and took a 17th minute lead courtesy of Edwards’ first goal of the season. A Duchossoy corner found an unmarked Edwards and he made no mistake finishing left footed past Sam Smith.
Loxwood were looking dangerous from set-pieces and had a long throw-in for the visitors to deal with. The Dockers were seeing out most of the danger without too many scares.
Lee Robinson had an excellent chance to double the away side’s lead. Terry Gacias played him through with a lofted pass but, after rounding Smith, Robinson’s shot was well kept out, inches from the goal, by a last ditch challenge.
The hosts were nearly in on goal but for an excellent tackle from Daniel Murray, making amends for his initial mistake.
A swift counter attack at the end of the first half saw Altendorff in on goal but he blazed his shot over the bar.
Altendorff also had a chance right at the beginning of the second half but, after an excellent first touch, he again shot over.
Nine minutes in to the half Loxwood were awarded a corner despite the ball clearly going out of play off a home player.
And it was from this corner that they equalised. Hawkes was first to the low cross and his effort beat Sean Breach at the near post.
Robinson had a couple of chances to restore the visitors’ advantage but he shot straight at Smith on one occasion and was well tackled on the second.
But the Dockers did manage to regain the lead. Robinson got to the by-line down the right and crossed for Probert who had to swivel on the spot before firing in for 1-2.
They managed to hold on to that lead for just 20 minutes as Dingle headed in from a free-kick to bring the sides level again.
Buss kept out a fierce Tom Lyons strike but with time running out the hosts found a winner. Lyons headed a free-kick back across goal where Merridew was on hand to fire in at the back post.
Jake Buss, Freddie Beale, Daniel Murray, Scott Edwards, Luis Freitas (Ryan Knight), Sean Breach (c), Terry Gacias, Dave Altendorff, Lee Robinson, Mark Probert, Luke Duchossoy (Harry Millar).