Cowfold went top of Division 2 despite what manager Ant Parsons felt was a lacklustre performance against second-bottom side Ferring on Saturday.
Goals from Tim Martin and Kyle Mitchell-Harris gave ‘Fold a 2-1 success and their eighth league win from nine attempts this season to take over previous leaders Angmering Seniors.
But Parsons admitted it was a result that many saw as a given was in the balance due to poor display. He said: ”It was a win that many had expected but one that Ferring made us work very hard for and huge credit must be given to them for a battling performance, we wish them well for the rest of the season.
“For our own part there were too many players out there that produced at best a 75 per cent performance, any hope we have of staying in that top spot depends entirely on whether they decide to turn up next week and every week moving forwards.”
After just five minutes, Tom Easton’s excellent through ball fell into the path of a bustling Martin and he made no mistake as he hammered the ball home.
Long periods saw Cowfold seem to invite pressure, playing unnecessarily intricate football into the swirling wind and rain, while Ferring were sharp and quick to the second ball with a performance belying their league position.
Whilst Cowfold had dominated possession, they had stand-in goalkeeper Nigel Smith to thank following a fine save that kept the score at 1-0 at the break - before a thigh strain forced him off at half-time.
Ferring seemed to revel in playing against a wind that had been behind them in the first half and poor defending saw the ball played out wide and a shot found the bottom right hand corner past Brandon Lau, who had taken over in goal, to make it 1-1.
Just before the hour mark, a Martin corner picked out the approaching Mitchell-Harris at the near post and his flick beat the ‘keeper to make it 2-1.
Ferring threatened to strike back almost immediately following the restart when a goalmouth scramble saw several blocked shots and a clearance off the line before the attack broke down, before a speculative attempt hit the bar with 11 minutes remaining.
Cowfold: Smith (Edmonds 45), Easton (Millais 70), Moutien, Mitchell-Harris, Sullivan, Parsons, Collier, Brabon, Lau, Martin, Beer.