Kerry Hardwell praised one of Rustington’s ‘best performances of the season’ after they progressed through to the Sussex Intermediate Cup semi-finals.
Striker Stephen Kirkham hit a hat-trick while defender Regan Miles and substitute Krzysztof Paraficz both struck as Blues recorded a thumping 5-1 quarter-final win over Rottingdean Village.
Defending champions Rustington remain unbeaten in all competitions this season and look well placed to match - if not better - their double-winning campaign from last term.
The Blues sit second in the SCFL Division 2 standings with a game in hand of rivals and leaders Angmering Seniors.
And manager Hardwell heaped praise on his team following the resounding quarter-final success.
He said: “It was probably one of the best team performances of the season.
“The boys all over the park were top class, everyone was grafting for each other and we were very clinical in front of goal and also solid at the back.”
Kirkham was well placed to net from Darwin’s corner as Blues broke the deadlock after 12 minutes.
The pair combined again, with Kirkham getting his second 13 minutes later.
A quick free-kick saw Miles add a third on 28 minutes.
Kirkham completed his treble on the hour, all but securing Rustington’s progress with it.
Tom Donnelly’s 30-yard thunderbolt pulled a goal back for Rottingdean.
Although the hosts quickly restored their four-goal advantage a minute from time.
Substitute Paraficz was on hand to finish off a fine team move - the perfect way to end a brilliant afternoon for Blues.
Rustington’s reward is a home semi-final tie against league rivals Upper Beeding.
Blues are in cup action again on Saturday. They welcome Worthing Town in a League Cup clash.
RUSTINGTON: Nash; Beaney, Gilchrist, MacIver, R.Miles, Darwin, Hudson, Jenkins, Ryder, Irish, Kirkham. Subs: John, Paraficz, O.Miles, Bennett, Chick.
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