Shoreham Football Club manager Bryan O’Toole said his side thoroughly deserved to win a seven-goal thriller 4-3 at fellow title hopefuls Eastbourne United on Saturday.
Mussels led 2-0 in the Southern Combination League Premier Division match but the hosts hit back to go 3-2 ahead early in the second half. However, a double from Rob O’Toole – the second six minutes from time – took Shoreham to a 13th victory from 14 league games this season.
They remain top of the table, two points ahead of Pagham, but are now six points clear of third-placed Eastbourne United with the same amount of games played.
Bryan O’Toole said: “It was a great result and we thoroughly deserved it.
“It’s a massive result and we’re six points clear of them and seven ahead of Haywards Heath now, so Pagham and us are opening up a little bit of a gap.”
Shoreham went ahead after six minutes on Saturday when Tom Burton lobbed the ball home with a first-time volley.
Mussels doubled their advantage on 18 minutes when Rob O’Toole laid the ball back to Scott Packer, whose cross was headed home by Joe Dryer at the back post.
Rob O’Toole twice went close to a third, before Eastbourne United got a goal back through Bailo Camara, with Mussels’ appealing for handball in the build-up, on 26 minutes.
The hosts then levelled in the last minute of the first half when Adam Davidson fired home following a goalmouth scramble from a quickly-taken corner.
Eastbourne United took the lead ten minutes into the second half when Jack Hartley was adjudged to have fouled Camara and Liam Baitup scored from the penalty spot.
Mussels equalised midway through the second period when Rob O’Toole scored with a diving header from Dryer’s cross.
Shoreham then pressed forward and Dryer hammered a shot across goal, Burton fired wide and Lee Denyer had a header saved, before Mussels got the winner on 84 minutes.
Rob O’Toole cut in from the right and bent the ball into the far corner for his 20th goal of the season.
Striker George Gaskin and left-sided player Mitchell Hand both left Mussels to rejoin Littlehampton late last week. Bryan O’Toole said: “I spoke to the team about it for 60 seconds on Saturday and said there was no reason to panic as we have a lot of very good players still here.
“I was very disappointed that George went but he had his reasons and has said he’ll do his best to help us win the league when he plays against the other teams at the top.”
SHOREHAM: Heyburn; Hartley, Storrie, Martin, Donaghey, Denyer, Packer, J.Keehan, Burton, Dryer, R.O’Toole. Subs: Goldson (Burton 70), Pearson, Cradock, Greenfield.
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