Loxwood suffered dramatic late heartbreak as they saw the Sussex RUR Cup snatched from their grasp at Culver Road tonight.
The Magpies, who played with ten men for the last half an hour after Tom Familton was sent off in the second half, looked on course to clinch the trophy for the first time before the most dramatic of climaxes saw Eastbourne Town clinch a 2-1 victory.
An 81st-minute Shaun Findlay goal had looked to have given Loxwood a winner and they then had a Gary Pritchard goal controversially ruled out with four minutes left, before Dan Smith equalised on 88 minutes.
Town then pinched a late winner through Jack Turner in the fourth added minute of a scheduled three minutes of injury-time.
It was a cruel blow for Loxwood who had more than matched their opponents for the 90 minutes even after being reduced to ten men.
The Magpies were without influential captain Eddie French, who was ill, along with Ross Swaine, who was suspended.
But they started brightly and had the first shot of the evening after just three minutes as they broke from a free-kick on the edge of their own box.
Gary Pritchard’s early ball forwards was won by Dean Wright and Ollie Gill’s first-time shot from range flew wide.
It was the West Sussex side who had all of the early running and Wright picked out Pritchard on nine minutes and his ball across the box found Findlay whose shot was blocked.
Town’s best move of the opening exchanges came as a smart low Dan Smith ball into box found Don Clarke, but he couldn’t quite control the ball and Sam Smith collected.
Lewis Scally then escaped with just a yellow card on 20 minutes as he clattered into Smith out on the right.
From the resulting free-kick, Layton Schaaf ghosted in to put a glancing header at the near post onto the roof of the net.
Dean Wright tried his luck from a looping effort from range on 29 minutes that had Greg Nessling scrambling, before seeing the ball drop on the roof of the net.
A Familton header from a corner was then headed down off the line by Joe Dryer and Pritchard couldn’t scramble the ball home.
Nessling made an excellent save to deny Cave six minutes into the second half as Pritchard broke away down the right, dugout a cross for Wright, who shifted it onto the stand-in skipper on the left of the box and the Town stopper was down well to save.
Familton was given his marching orders on 55 minutes as Smith slipped through the middle and the Loxwood centre-back bundled him over just outside the box.
The extra man was far from telling and it was only a unbelievable save from Nessling that stopped them going behind on 73 minutes.
Michael Wood raced away on the right and cut the ball back to Gill and his powerful effort from 12 yards was superbly pushed away by a strong right hand of Nessling and Pritchard put the follow-up over.
But Dave Cocoracchio’s side did take the lead on 81 minutes as Findlay cut back in on the left before being allowed time to beautifully curling past Nessling from outside the box.
Loxwood thought they had doubled their lead as Andrea Elkana played in Gill and he looked to have delivered a low cross backwards that Pritchard back-heeled home from close range, but the linesman had his flag up for offside on 86 minutes.
And just two minutes later Town levelled as skipper Smith smashed home a fine volley past Smith from inside the box to level.
But there was to be yet more late drama as Danny Ellis’ free-kick in the 94th-minute was deflected past Smith by Turner with the last kick of the game as Loxwood this time appealed for offside.
Loxwood: Smith, Summerfield, Familton, Scally, Hoyte, Wood (Elkana 81), Gill, Cave, Findlay, Wright (Martin 75), Pritchard. Unused subs: Martin, Holvey, Elkana, Todd, Beard.
Eastbourne Town: Nessling, Duncan, Kelly, Turner, Hollebone, Schaff (Robinson 66), Ellis, Darby, Dryer, Clarke (Sutton 86), Smith. Unused subs: Sutton, Henson, Paul, Robinson.