Westfield Football Club came from behind with 10 men to rescue an away point on Saturday.
A fine solo strike from Callum Smith earned Westfield a 3-3 draw against Rustington having earlier led twice in a highly eventful Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division Two fixture.
Westfield opened the scoring in route one fashion after just four minutes. Jake Adams looped a header over the home goalkeeper from Jack Stapley’s long free kick and Regan Smith tapped in at the back post amid a strong suspicion of offside.
Westfield’s celebrations had barely died down when Rustington equalised. After Westfield gave away a silly free kick on Rustington’s right, a good delivery was met by Stephen Kirkham, who guided his header nicely into the far corner.
Keeping hold of the ball and pushing Rustington back, Westfield fashioned two clear chances to go back in front. Callum Smith unsuccessfully tried to round the goalkeeper, while Regan Smith blazed over from five yards after great work by Asher Grindle and Allan McMinigal.
Westfield did retake the lead on the half-hour. Grindle and Callum Smith combined well on the left, and the latter pulled the ball back to the edge of the box, from where McMinigal curled a lovely finish around the goalkeeper.
Rustington levelled for a second time shortly before the break. A misdirected Westfield clearance went straight to a Rustington player, who chipped the ball over the away defence for the accomplished Kirkham to turn and volley into the top corner from around 25 yards.
The second half continued in the same sort of fashion with Westfield seeing a lot of the ball, but they fell behind for the first time from another set-piece.
A free kick was missed by everyone and came back off the far post for Jordan Curtis to tap in from a yard. The offside flag did go up, but the referee over-ruled his assistant and awarded the goal.
Westfield then went down to 10 men. Grindle reacted angrily to a clash between Callum Smith and an opponent, and became involved with several Rustington players, prompting the referee to produce a straight red card.
Rustington kept allowing Westfield possession and the visitors almost equalised when Martyn Durrant’s header, which looked to be going towards the corner of the net, was superbly tipped over by the goalkeeper.
Westfield did level things up in the 84th minute. Callum Smith, now playing in a deeper role, broke from midfield and beat a couple of players before slamming the ball home from 25 yards.
Rustington probably should’ve won it in the final minute. Kirkham raced through following a flick on and Harry Stapley pulled off a good save to deny him.
Westfield’s goalkeeper took a heavy knock to his knee in the process, though, and had to be stretchered off, which meant midfielder Adams donned the gloves for the closing seconds.
Westfield manager Jack Stapley said: “It was very end-to-end with lots of action and a bit of controversy I suppose for both teams. It was a decent advert for the league.
“We’re probably disappointed to only come away with a point. We missed some gilt-edged chances, which is quite unlike us, but it was good we were getting into those positions.”
Westfield: H. Stapley; Winter, Parsons (Hurst), J. Stapley, Durrant; Adams, McGurk (Page), McMinigal (Stoyanov); C. Smith, Grindle, R. Smith.