Broadbridge Heath exited the Sussex RUR Cup at the quarter-final stage last night away at County League Division 1 leaders Eastbourne Town.
In a game of two halves, effected by Heath’s late arrival, the visitors put in a spirited second-half showing despite a 3-1 defeat.
They were also boosted by the return of Tiago Andrade, who has been sidelined for three months, as he came on as a late substitute.
Various traffic delays on route meant the Heath management, several players and the kit didn’t arrive at the ground until five minutes before the scheduled kick-off.
It therefore came as no surprise when Town had Heath on the back foot from the kick-off and scored twice in the opening minutes.
The first saw an uncharacteristic error by Heath goalkeeper James Fisher, who failed to hold on to a Matt Mclean effort which squirmed out of his grasp and into the net.
The second came a minute later when Fisher made a good save from the edge of the penalty area, but Dan Smith pounced on the loose ball to steer it into the bottom corner.
Heath gradually got their game together and created a few chances of their own. Martyn Flack shot over the bar when well placed on 15 minutes, Ollie Moore had an attempt that went just wide and Merv Bhujun came close.
But on 38 minutes, the home-side made it 3-0 with a quick breakaway that ended with Smith scoring from the edge of the penalty area.
Steve Painter rang the changes at the break and brought on Max Love up front, moved Harry Balfour into centre-midfield and Dan Attwater to full-back.
Suddenly his side looked a different proposition and almost pulled a goal back within minutes of the restart when Jamal Sultan’s cross from the right was steered inches wide of the post by Love.
Bhujun followed this up moments later with a dazzling run before pulling his shot wide of the post.
In the 58th minute, Eastbourne keeper Greg Nessling made a superb full-length save to deny Sultan, but from the resulting corner the ball came out to Matt Carruthers, whose shot came off a defender into the path of Bhujun, who made sure from six yards.
Midway through the half, Nessling was again in action to save a Moore shot from the edge of the penalty area as Heath continued to push forward in search of goals.
At the other end, Fisher did well to save from Layton Schaff on the counter attack and Danny Ellis and Liam Baitup both came close with shots from distance that went narrowly wide of the Heath post.
With 15 minutes of the half remaining, Andrade came off the bench, making a welcome return from injury and his first appearance since September 2.
The Heath striker was involved immediately, getting on the end of a Sultan cross but shot straight at Nessling.
In the closing minutes, Harry Balfour had an attempt cleared off the goal line and Adam Wicking shot straight at Nessling.
Heath: Fisher, Balfour, Bevin (Wicking 60), Carruthers, Flack, Attwater, Moore, Waddingham, McNab (Love 46), Bhujun (Andrade 75), Sultan.