LITTLEHAMPTON Football Club fell to a seventh successive defeat on Tuesday evening when they lost a thriller 3-2 away to Loxwood.
The in-form hosts made it six successive victories but reigning champions Golds will count themselves unlucky not to have taken a point from the game as they continued to show much improvement after a difficult start to the campaign.
The visitors hit back from 2-0 down to level early in the second half, but substitute Cecil Gee’s 53rd-minute strike proved the winner, despite Golds spurning chances to level.
After a fairly even start with both sides knocking the ball around fluently, returning Golds stopper Jon Hendrick gifted the hosts the lead on 15 minutes. He dropped a Sam Beard free kick on to the head of a Loxwood player and it fell for Charlie Pitcher to stroke into an empty net.
Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Beard got away down the left and his low cross was pushed out by Hendrick into the path of Ollie Gill, who netted from 12 yards.
Golds then got a foot in the game as Brad Curtis’s cross-shot was hooked off the line by Beard, before they got a goal back somewhat fortunately on 26 minutes.
Peter Beadle latched on to a deep free kick and somehow did not hit the target, but the ball flew across goal hit Ryan Richefond and despite Sam Smith making a point-blank save, Scott Packer followed up to head home.
Golds’ Danny Hand was then denied an equaliser by the offside flag, before George Landais dragged a one-on-one chance harmlessly wide.
Six minutes before half-time, Hendrick made up for his earlier error as he tipped over Mark Cave’s effort which was flying for the top corner.
Golds levelled just three minutes after the break as a Packer cross from the right found Curtis, who bundled past Smith from close range.
Danny Hand then had an effort cleared off the line from a cut-back, before Loxwood retook the lead on 53 minutes.
Joe Holvey’s ball found half-time substitute Gee, who got it over the last defender and then flicked over Hendrick and across the line, despite Golds’ efforts to clear.
The visitors then threw everything at the home side, often leaving just two at the back, but Loxwood defended astutely. They were undone by player-manager George Gaskin, who came off the bench to put fellow replacement Ben Gray though on goal for their best chance, but he somehow shot wide.
In the closing stages, Loxwood’s Richefond saw his cross-shot go agonisingly wide, while Gill put a tame effort at Hendrick and then fired against a post.
Deep into injury-time, Golds’ Ross McKay’s header from a cross flew behind off a defender and the corner was cleared as Loxwood held out.
Littlehampton player-manager Gaskin said: “It’s the same old story for us. We miss chances and let in sloppy goals. The performances are there and are getting better but, when you make mistakes at both ends, you don’t win games.”
Golds travel to Hassocks in the Sussex RUR Cup on Saturday and then entertain Eastbourne Town in the league on Tuesday.
LITTLEHAMPTON: Hendrick, Wiggans, McKay, Bates, M.Hand, D.Hand (Hutchings 61), Humphreys (Gray 74), Curtis, Beadle, Packer (Gaskin 74), Landais. Unused: Bell, Janman.
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