Hollington United Football Club’s first team suffered its first home defeat for more than two years on Saturday.
The Lions went down 2-1 against fellow high-flyers Balcombe in the Mid Sussex League Premier Division despite taking an early lead.
Balcombe arrived at Gibbons Field averaging more than four goals per game and possessing plenty of ‘well-known’ players, but Hollington started brilliantly and opened the scoring when Ricky Martin beat three players on a run from the halfway line before slotting under the goalkeeper.
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The hosts continued to press, but some indifferent finishing and dubious offside decisions meant they didn’t add to their lead.
Balcombe then started to put the pressure on and they scrambled an equaliser when the Lions failed to clear a set-piece.
Hollington again dominated most of the play in the second period, but were again guilty of missing chances and Balcombe grabbed a freak winner with 10 minutes left.
Sean Ray volleyed the ball clear from a Balcombe set-piece only to see it cannon into Danny Andrews’ head and fly back into the net for a very unfortunate own goal.
Man of the match, sponsored by 1066 Homes, was Martin.
Hollington manager Scott Price said: “We’ve played a lot worse than this and won comfortably this season. To lose the way we did is hard, especially for the players who put a proper shift in and created enough chances to win the game.
“But this is why we made the move to the next level, to put ourselves up against better opposition. We need to cut out silly errors and be more clinical at the other end, but other than that I’m more than happy with how we’ve played so far.”
Hollington are without a fixture this coming Saturday.