It was late and great for Alfold as they netted a 90th-minute winner against fellow promotion hopefuls Bexhill United on Tuesday night.
Tiago Andrade grabbed the winner right at the death as they edged a hotly-contested Division 1 affair between two of the top three 1-0.
The victory lifted ‘Fold back up to second with a point lead over Bexhill. They trail leaders Steyning Town by three points, but have a game in hand over both.
On a chilly but still night at The Polegrove, Alfold shrugged off their long midweek journey by starting quickly and were the better side during the opening quarter-of-an-hour.
They almost took the lead inside 35 seconds. Johden De Meyer played a delightful one-two with Andrade and was in on goal, but Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose got a hand to his shot. Rose then saved De Meyer’s angled shot with his feet.
Bexhill gradually started to get into the game. Following a strong tackle by Jamie Bunn in the Alfold box, the ball broke to Jack McLean, who struck a low shot into the side-netting.
Sammy Bunn’s sweetly-struck effort from just outside the area having been cleverly picked out by his brother at a corner was tipped over the bar by Luis Correia.
Bexhill’s best chance of the opening period came on the half-hour mark. Drew Greenall missed the target having been sent through the inside left channel by a defence-splitting pass from Jamie Bunn.
Andrade headed over from Zach Gray’s cross having moments earlier had a shot on the turn blocked by Bexhill left-back Nathan Lopez, while Kyle Holden fired wide from outside the box at the other end seconds before the break.
Bexhill were firmly on the front foot at the start of the second period, albeit without really turning their possession and territory into clearcut opportunities against an Alfold team which has conceded less than a goal per game in the league this season.
Sam Lemon’s angled strike was saved by Rose moments before the skilful McLean surged into the Alfold box and saw his low shot well stopped.
Andrade drove a free kick just over as Alfold started to come back into things, while Lopez acrobatically volleyed over.
The winner came as the referee awarded a free kick to Alfold in front of the dugouts, even though his assistant had flagged for a Bexhill throw.
De Meyer won a knock down at the far post and Andrade poked past Rose, sparking jubilant celebrations among the Alfold players.
Things got heated between the two benches, with Bexhill angered by what they saw as an Alfold man celebrating in their technical area, and Bexhill’s Ryan Light and Alfold’s Jack Munday sent from the dugout.
Bexhill frantically went in search of an equaliser during eight minutes of added time and launched several balls into Alfold’s box, but the visitors held on to complete their second 1-0 win over Bexhill this season.
Alfold assistant Jack Munday said: “We knew before the game we had one hell of a task coming all the way here on a Tuesday night against what I consider to be the best team we’ve come up against.
“It was a very different game compared to the first time we met, back in August it was more a lethargic display from both teams in what was a warm day with not much football played.
“Tonight was the best advert you’ll see for the division, the first half I thought we were superb and attacked with devastating pace.
“The game was 100mph and the second half we were really on the ropes, I turned to my brother Matt with 10 minutes left and he asked if I’d take a draw? I said we’d be lucky to get one.
“To then go and grab a late winner was brilliant for us but also a little harsh on the home side who definitely deserved at least a point.
“We owe huge praise to our players for shutting out the highest scorers in the league on two occasions this season. We look forward to welcoming Bexhill back to us for the quarter-final of the league cup in which I’m sure will be another great game of football.”
Alfold: Correia, Fowler, Gray (Hallett), Jacques, Howard, Lemon (Cawte), Wanstall, Nourse (Wragg), Mase, De Meyer, Andrade. Un-used: Sultan, Chowney
n Billingshurst made it three wins on the bounce on Tuesday night as they overcame Hailsham Town 3-1.
Nick Tilley scored twice and Derrick Kaboggoza was on target as ‘Hurst climbed up to tenth.