Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola reflected on a ‘mental’ game as Eastbourne Town netted a 98th-minute winner to take charge of the Premier Division title race.
That last-gasp goal tells little of the story, with Horsham 3-1 up after 70 minutes in a game which saw two added-time goals.
An disastrous error from Gareth Williams saw Town back into the game at 3-2 and then level with seven minutes left.
Williams then missed a cross three minutes from time as Town took the lead and the stopper suffered ligament damage in the process.
Just as an own goal looked to have saved Horsham a point in added time, Jack Turned pinched Eastbourne victory two minutes later at Gorings Mead.
Horsham remain top of the table despite the result, but Eastbourne can now leapfrog them by winning their game in hand.
Di Paola said: “It was just truly mental. It was the oddest game as we just played so well, we played so, so well.
“I do not think anyone would have begrudged us a win. Only once have we (management team) conceded five goals and that was down at Worthing United years ago.
“It’s just not how we normally are. I just feel so bad for the boys and I am not normally one to say that after we have thrown something away.
“It was just one of the strangest games I have ever been involved in. It was just an unbelievable game. Any neutrals there would have had a ball, but unfortunately for us, we are not neutral.
“We can’t be to disappointed as we played so well and were comfortable at 3-1 up. We completely dominated the first half and then completely dominated the second until their second goal.
“After a horrible mistake we seemed to visibly shrink at that stage. We had made the subs and then the game changed and those subs were redundant.
“That’s what I have been beating myself up about over the weekend. I have to say it is very rarely that a team beats me twice, if we lose we normally learn from it and put things right.
“I thought we had got the tactics right on Saturday, for 70 minutes we had, that’s the frustrating thing.”
The visitors opened the scoring on six minutes as Matt Darby hit a low shot into the bottom corner.
The Hornets - despite a nervous start - drew level 14 minutes later as Evan Archibald beat his marker and his low cross was put into his own net by Jack Turner.
Horsham then went ahead in first-half injury time as a looped ball dropped down to Kieron Pamment and from 25 yards out he spotted Greg Nessling off his line and unleashed a volley that dipped into the top corner.
Horsham did grab a two-goal cushion on 51 minutes as Archibald swept home a clinical finish from just outside the six yard box from Alex Duncan’s low cross.
With Horsham in control, William raced off his line but missed a clearance and Jason Taylor finished into an empty net. Town then found themselves level on 82 minutes as Kenny Pogue headed home a cross.
With just three minutes left to play, Horsham were stunned again as Williams tried to claim a free-kick, collided with a defender and Sam Willet put Town ahead.
In falling, the goalkeeper injured his knee and was replaced between the sticks by midfielder Graham Martin. The injury meant an additional six minutes and in that sixth minute, a Pamment free-kick was fumbled by Nessling and ended up in the back of the net via an own-goal.
Two minutes later however, Tom Vickers’ free-kick was headed in at the near post by an unmarked Turner to clinch a dramatic win.
Horsham: Williams (Martin), Duncan (Lewis), Jones, Farmer, Knee, Pamment, Keehan, Hunt, Shelley, Boswell (Dodd), Archibald. Unused: Smith, Storrie, Martin.
More reaction to follow in Thursday’s West Sussex County Times.
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