Valiant East Preston Football Club were edged out after extra-time in a Sussex Senior Cup second-round thriller thriller with Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23 team at The Lashmar last night.
Efforts either side of the break from Jack Barnes and skipper Daniel Huet had seen EP lead 2-0 at one stage before Ryan Longman struck twice in the final 40 minutes as it finished 2-2 after normal time.
Penalties were looking likely following a steely defensive display from the home side, only for Max Sanders’ goal after 113 minutes to win it in extra-time for Albion’s youngsters.
Despite the defeat, EP boss Bob Paine spoke of his pride after a courageous showing.
He said: “We probably had more chances than we thought, Luke (Brodie) had a great early chance and Quirkey (Ryan Quirke) had a shot go just wide, all before we went two goals ahead.
“The lads were playing against guys a similar age to them, the difference is they are professional and our boys are not.
“They (Albion) trained in the morning, slept in the afternoon ahead of the game. My players were at work all day then came straight to the match, that’s the difference.”
“We must take this performance forward into league. If we perform like this each week we’ll have no problems.”
Albion saw a lot of the ball in the early exchanges but it was the home side who mustered the first real chance. Ryan Quirke’s ball played Luke Brodie in behind, and he fired just wide of the far post after nine minutes.
East Preston were dealing with everything thrown at them and took a shock lead a minute before the break.
Brodie’s cross picked out Barnes who, after seeing his initial shot saved by Billy Collings, reacted quickest to fire home the rebound.
East Preston were in dreamland as they doubled their lead three minutes after the restart. Quirke’s delivery picked out Huet, whose clever flicked header found the bottom corner.
Brighton were stunned into life. Longman cut inside, smashing a left-foot shot past Chris Cook to make it 2-1 on 51 minutes.
Longman looked the most likely and got Albion’s leveller. This time he worked some shooting room on his right, slamming a shot into the far corner.
Both sides had chances to win it in extra-time but it was Brighton who went through.
Sanders rounded Cook, kept his composure and slotted into an unguarded net seven minutes from the end of extra-time.
EP piled forward in the closing stages and, after Brighton failed to clear their lines, Josh Etherington fired a snapshot just wide as Paine’s men so nearly forced penalties a couple of minutes from time.
EAST PRESTON: Cook; DaCosta, Lyne, Etherington, Beaney; Stevenson, Quirke; Brodie, Barnes, Hunter; Huet. Subs: Josh Parazo (DaCosta, 90), Franzen-Jones (Quirke, 65), Laughlin, Bull (Barnes, 78), Purkis.