An oscillating final ten minutes witnessed a late Mo Shuga’a winner to snatch Steyning Town a 2-1 away win at Rustington on Saturday.
Town began in buoyant mood and almost drew first blood when Kerry Parson’s close-range shot from Marcus Robertshaw’s corner was thwarted on the line by scrambling Rustington defenders.
Chances throughout the first half were few and far between, despite a precarious 25-yard shot from Blues left-back Kamil Bochanek which shook the under side of the bar leaving Town goalkeeper Aaron Jeal counting his lucky stars.
A repeat outcome occurred minutes later when Rustington centre-back Callum Edwards headed onto the frame of the goal.
Although cold unfavourable conditions didn’t exactly render the first half a box office, Steyning manager John Suter believed his side deserved more than the 0-0 score at the interval.
He said: “It was scrappy. The pitch wasn’t conducive to good football - it bobbled around an awful lot. I’m glad I didn’t pay to go and watch it. It was a game in which we dominated the first half and should have come in 3-1 up at half-time. We missed two absolute sitters that were put over the bar from close range, but again that was due to the surface.”
Early in the second half Jeal was called into action once again to prevent Blues forward Tom Baker slotting the opener. Persistence began to pay off for The Barrowmen when a slick run from Rob Clarke concluded with this shot straight at opposition keeper Gareth Challen.
On 58 minutes, Clarke failed to connect to a Chad Milner cross, before Jack Boxall and Robertshaw attempted to convert chances imminently after.
With five minutes left, Town substitute Lewis Levoi slide a through ball to Shuga’a who dispatched confidently to put his side 1-0 up.
A yo-yo final five minutes took place when some controversial decisions led to a spot-kick for the Blues. Jeal guessed correctly from Tom Baker and thought his clean sheet remained intact - before Josie Stakim reacted to tuck away the spills to draw level at 1-1.
Deep into stoppage-time Shuga’a grabbed notched his second from the spot as lively Levoi was brought down in the area during a last-gasp attack.
Suter said: “Their equalising goal came from the penalty, but it all hinged on the throw-in which was wrongly awarded. It goes on - the throw was awarded to Rustington when it was ours, the linesman thought it was ours, we all thought it was ours, the referee just made a mistake and in fairness he apologised for it afterwards. All referees make mistakes like players make mistakes, so I’ve got no problem with that.
“When we ahead after 85 minutes we thought that was it, when they equalised three minutes later - we thought that was it as well. When we got our penalty two or three minutes into injury time, that was it. It was Mo Shuga’a with nerves of steel that put it away. It was his birthday as well, so a nice little birthday present for him.
“We deserved the win, but the overwhelming emotion was relief that we had managed to snatch it at the death and we almost threw it away.”
Travelling home 2-1 victors while recording back-to-back wins for the second time this season moves Steyning Town to seventh in the league with at least two games in hand over the each of the top three.
Steyning: Jeal, Hare, Early, Finch, Parsons, Dodd, Shuga’a, Boxall, Milner, Robertshaw, Clark. Used subs: Levoi, Warr, Manama.