Billingshurst were left bemoaning ‘controversial decisions’ in their last-gasp 3-2 defeat away to Seaford in Division 2 on Saturday.
The visitors welcomed Nick Tilley, Harry Bowles, Elliot Hawkes, Sam Gravestock and Oli Lambkin back into the squad with Tom Betts returning in goal after being out during pre-season through injury.
‘Hurst got off to a slow start and didn’t settle, made more difficult going against the wind and up the slope.
On 14 minutes, a long ball was launched forward and the chasing winger seemed to trip Tom Bradshaw, but there was no whistle from the referee so he ran through and crossed to striker Ahmed Shaker who had the simplest of simple tap-ins.
‘Hurst worked their way into the game and on 22 minutes following a scramble from a corner, Jake Chadwick was felled inside the box and Nick Tilley levelled the scores from the penalty spot.
A through ball for Jordan Stallibrass on 35 minutes saw the Seaford keeper come rushing out to clear, but it cannoned back off the Billingshurst man into an into the empty net to give them a half-time lead.
Seaford pressed from the start of the second half and it was backs against the wall for Billingshurst during the early exchanges.
Then on 62 minutes came the games most controversial decision as the Seaford attacker went down under Tilley’s challenge inside the box and although the referee waved it away and said no penalty, the linesman flagged and Barry Cox went with his assistant. Betts had no chance with Billy Pout’s penalty as he levelled the scores.
On 70 minutes, Dan Game was adjudged to have fouled the Seaford centre forward in the box, a decision given by the linesman on the other side of the pitch after the referee had again waved play on, but the spot kick was missed.
After good chances for both sides came and went, four minutes into added time Pout looped the ball over Betts from long range for the winner.
Manager Chris Simmons said: “It was another disappointing away trip for us, especially after getting ourselves level and then in front but we switched off at a critical time and it’s cost us and that was more disappointing than the controversial decisions during the game.
“That said, I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a game where an assistant has made the referee change his decision twice.”
Billingshurst: Betts, Bradshaw (F.Bowles 70), Simester, H.Bowles, Game, Lambkin, Tilley, White (Gravestock 70), Chadwick, Long (Hawkes 55), Stallibrass.
n ‘Hurst are due to be in action at Wick in the second round of the Peter Bentley Cup last night (Wednesday).