Philip Johnson struck twice in the final ten minutes as Horsham YMCA brought East Preston’s unbeaten start to an end last night.
EP, who’d scored an FA Cup triumph over Saltdean United and a Southern Combination League Premier Division success against Peacehaven & Telscombe, fell to a 3-1 reverse at Gorings Mead.
David Brown fired YM into an early lead but Jared Rance levelled after 20 minutes and it was all square at the interval.
East Preston, who were promoted back into the SCFL Premier Division last term, were more than a match for highly-fancied Horsham YMCA throughout.
Centre-half Tom Lyne had a goal chalked out for offside prior to a late flurry from the home side.
Johnson netted ten minutes from the end and added another in second-half stoppage-time to ensure Bob Paine’s team suffered a first lost this campaign.
Although disappointed to lose out, Paine felt the display showed his young team can match the best in this division.
He said: “I think that’s the happiest I’ve ever been after a defeat. We went to them and matched them for large parts of the match.
“They (Horsham YMCA) are full of players with vast experience at this level or higher, so my young team did a great job.
“The one thing we must learn is to cut out silly mistakes. Maybe last season we would have got away with a lot more. Their second goal came from a mistake by us, which was punished. We have to learn to cut out those mistakes.”
EP were chasing the game after just six minutes as Brown put the home side in front.
East Preston responded superbly, getting level courtesy of Rance’s left-foot strike into the bottom corner.
Lyne fired home following a Aaron Jeal parry after 70 minutes, only for his strike to be ruled out for offside.
With time running out, a defensive error allowed Johnson in behind to fire past Chris Cook as YM went ahead for a second time ten minutes from the end.
Hayden Hunter saw a searing strike tipped on to the crossbar by Jeal with his side looking to snatch a point.
As EP piled men forward in search of a leveller, they were caught cold at the back and Johnson was on hand to finish off a quick breakaway a minute into second half stoppage-time.
East Preston welcome division-higher Bostik League South Thamesmead Town for an FA Cup preliminary round clash on Saturday.
Paine’s side beat the then Ryman League South outfit Tooting & Mitcham United, who were eventual champions, at the same stage last season, bridging what was a two-division gap at the time to cause a shock.
EAST PRESTON: Cook; Stevenson, Lyne, Etherington, Jacob Parazo; Searle, Barnes; Rance, Huet, Herbert; Hunter. Subs: Quirke (Huet, 80), Bull (Searle, 82), Hallett (Barnes, 87), Purkis, Gilbertson.