George Gaskin struck twice to ensure Littlehampton Town Football Club’s Southern Combination League Premier Division safety on Saturday.
As well as Gaskin’s double, Jack Cole and Ben Gray also netted as Golds sealed an impressive 4-2 away win at Eastbourne United.
Littlehampton headed into the fixture still with the possibility of finishing in the bottom three. However, Golds’ win - coupled with third-bottom AFC Uckfield Town losing at home to Horsham YMCA - left them with a five-point cushion over Uckfield in with a game to go.
Golds boss Ady Baker was relieved his side finally ensured their Premier Division status and said: “The pressure has been on over the past few weeks but it’s just a sense of relief we’ve finally managed to remain in this division.
“It’s nice we’ve been able to do it with a game to spare, it allows us to go out and play with some freedom in our final game.
“The performance was exceptional on Saturday and it just shows what this team is capable of. We pressed right from the outset, causing Eastbourne all sorts of problems.
“It’s never nice when you are down there in risk of going down. We’ve been up and down this season but I’m glad we’ve finally secured our status.”
Golds got off to the perfect start, finding themselves two goals ahead inside 15 minutes.
A fine move saw Mitchell Hand and Ben Gray both involved, before Cole thundered home a volley after three minutes.
Littlehampton then had a second 12 minutes later. Hand’s cross was flicked on by Lee Garnham, with Gaskin on hand to head home.
Golds could easily have extended their advantage before the half was out as Gaskin, Cole and Gray all missed good opportunities.
Liam Baitup pulled one back for United 20 minutes from time but Golds made sure of the three points ten minutes later. Gray got his name on the scoresheet with a clever finish, then Gaskin notched his 29th league goal of the season two minutes later.
Shaun Lee’s fine free-kick found the top corner three minutes from the end but Golds held out.
United’s frustrations boiled over in the closing stages with Tobi Hutchinson sent to the sends and Daniel Andrews shown a second yellow card for foul and abusive language in second half stoppage-time.
Gaskin’s double took him to 29 for the season and top of the Premier Division scoring charts.
He leads the way by two goals from Shoreham pair Kieron Pamment and Rob O’Toole with just a game to go.
Golds boss Baker feels his striker deserves the golden boot.
He added: “George has got 16 goals for us since coming back from Shoreham.
“His goals have been crucial and it would be nice to see him finish top-scorer this season.
Littlehampton host Peacehaven & Telscombe in their final game this season on Saturday.
LITTLEHAMPTON TOWN: Askew; Wiggans, Farrell, McKay, M.Hand; Kempson, Bell, Garnham; Gray, Gaskin, Cole. Subs: Ashman (Bell, 65), Burgess (Cole, 88).
Don't miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you'll be amongst the first to know what's going on.
4) Register with us by clicking on 'sign in' (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don't miss out!
The Littlehampton Gazette - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.