Holders Roffey suffered a cruel late defeat in their Division 3 Cup semi-final against league leaders Sidlesham last night.
An injury-time free-kick from Sids’ John Philips saw the title chasers pinch a last-gasp 1-0 victory and advance into the final where they will face either Ferring or Bosham.
Roffey boss Julian Miller admitted it was gutting way to end their title defence of the crown they won last May after an even contest against the division’s high-flyers at Steyning’s Shooting Field ground.
He said: “It was a shame as all night we defended well and did not give them many chances - one hit the bar, but Lewis (Blaney) did not have a save to make.
“It was routine stuff and we contained them and tried to hit them on the counter attack.
“It’s very disappointing to go so close, but it is one of those things. All the players did very well - we are fourth from bottom and taken them all the way and they are top.
“We have been without a goalscorer since Damon (Aston), (Ben) Bissett and (Nick) Tilley left so we have been lacking a bit up top so have been playing with five defenders and five midfielders.
“I am gutted, absolutely gutted, but we have another cup match Saturday and we have got to put it right as it’s a chance of another semi-final.
“It’s hard, but I could not have asked anymore from the players. They gave everything, that is all I want and it’s nice to hear and have nice things said about you.”
Sidlesham hit the bar in the first half with a dipping shot that beat Blaney, but Roffey felt they should have had a stonewall penalty before the break.
Michael Spence got to the byline and played the ball back for the awaiting Phil Awcock, but the ball struck an arm of a defender, but the officials were unsighted.
After the break, substitute Andy Lampard, continuing his comeback after a broken ankle, was picked out by Paul White and he broke away from the defence, only to see his shot across the goalkeeper shave the post.
In added-time, Roffey gave away the ball sloppily and then conceded a free-kick which Philips despatched brilliantly over the wall and past Blaney.
Miller added: “The match seemed to go on and on. We had played well over time as the match finished at 9.45pm and we must have kicked off just after 8.45pm - but it is what it is.”
Roffey now host Felbridge in the quarter-final of the Mid Sussex Senior Cup on Saturday (1.30pm kick-off).
Roffey: Blaney, Simmons, R.Hirschfield, D.Hirschfield, Simester, Hawks (Bowles 60), McGregor, Hancock, Spence (Lampard 60), White, Awcock.