Tim Martin scored a hat-trick as Loxwood beat Rustington to go top of the table in a game manager Dave Cocoracchio called ‘the most ridiculous I have ever been involved in.’
Leading 1-0 from Martin’s 14th minute opener, a ‘bizarre’ incident started when Magpies winger Matt Hoyte tumbled in the area under contact.
“Matt never appealed for a penalty, neither did we but they must have thought he dived because their team went mad, particularly their goalkeeper,” Cocoracchio explained. “The goalkeeper went ballistic, tried to kick the ball at Matt before squaring up to him, he just lost the plot.”
The referee duly flashed the red card at stopper Andrew McCarthy and the visitors were down to ten men.
Some bad habits crept into Loxwood’s game, though Rustington’s makeshift midfield goalkeeper denied both Shaun Findlay and Mark Cave before Martin turned in Findlay’s cross to make it 2-0.
There was still time left in an eventful first half for Joe Holvey to have a penalty saved.
After some choice half-time words Loxwood grabbed a third when Luis Freitas’ cross forced an own goal, and on 63 minutes Martin completed his treble. “He’s on fire at the moment and long may that continue,” Cocoracchio said.” Ben Arthur expertly headed in a fifth from a corner but Loxwood missed a ‘catalogue of gilt edge chances’ before they allowed Rustington in to score two late consolations. “Shaun Findlay, Mark Cave and Matt Hoyte should all have finished with hat-tricks, how we finished with only a plus three goal difference I’ll never know. But some of the football we are playing is a joy to watch at the moment,” Cocoracchio said.
Loxwood: Coles; Pett (Elliott 71), Freitas, French, Holvey; Swaine (Scally 60), Hoyte, Arthur, Findlay; Cave, Martin (Lyons 65).