Lavant’s cup final dreams were ended Saturday in an eventful quarterfinal game in which the homeside will rue critical mistakes and missed opportunities.
With only four minutes of the game gone Nick Farrer’s back pass fell short of Simon Blackman allowing Rustington striker Javis Kushta to gratefully run through and open the scoring for the visitors, 0-1.
Lavant should have drawn level minutes later if it had not been for man of the match Adam Eastick in the Rustington goal who pulled of a great save from Mike Neville’s goal bound free kick on the edge of the box.
With ten minutes on the clock slack marking by Lavant again allowed Rustington to easily extend their lead as Jason Bright broke free of his marker pulling the ball back to the unmarked Noel Butler who scored past stranded keeper Chris Bowles making it two nil to the visitors, 0-2.
Lavant still suffering from shock battled hard to try to get back into the game, with Mike Kent’s header just going just over the bar, Neville’s shot being saved by Eastick with Justin Walsh just shooting wide with the rebound, plus Mark Richardson shot also going agonisingly inches wide of the post.
Rustington soaked up the pressure and capitalized on a desperate up field clearance which cruelly bounced in front and over the stranded Blackman allowing Kushta to run through unopposed to score his second and Rustington’s third,
Minutes later Lavant were again desperately unlucky not to score as Mike Kent’s shot beat the keeper but rebounded off the post, ensuring the visitors went into the break with an unbelievably flattering half time lead.
Lavant restarted after the break in a determined manner with Richardson’s header just going over the bar. Neville’s free-kick was skilfully chested down and vollied in the box by Kent at close range but again Eastick pulled off a world class save to deny the home side their opening goal.
With twenty minutes remaining finally Lavant got their opener as Neville was brought down in the box and Kent stepped up and despatched the penalty kick, 1-3.
Minutes later Rustington’s quick counterattacking again paid dividends as Bright broke through the Lavant defence to score, restoring the visitor’s three-goal lead, 1-4.
Lavant response was almost immediate as Mike Kent scored his second and minutes later had a third and his hat-trick, however after much lengthy discussion between the linesman and referee Matthew Benham the goal was somehow disallowed to the amazement of the watching spectators, 2-4.
With ten minutes remaining Bright was then sent off for his second bookable offence, this allowed Lavant greater opportunity to pressurize the Rustington goal in the dying stages of the game, in an attempt to level the deficit.
However Rustington held onto their lead, celebrating at the final whistle the fact they had progressed through to the last four of the Division V Cup, leaving Lavant to reflect on how they lost this game with so much of the possession.
Team: C.Bowles, J.Strange, S.Blackman, N.Farrer, M.Neville, A.Strange, M.Richardson, J.Walsh, S.Yaxley, C.Swain, M.Kent. Subs: D.Morris, A.Yaxley, T.Sheppard.