Shoreham Football Club boss Bryan O’Toole admitted it was a frustrating day at Littlehampton on Monday as his side suffered just their second league defeat of the season.
O’Toole felt Mussels did enough to win the game, but their defeat and Haywards Heath’s 8-0 win at Hailsham has seen Shoreham’s lead at the top of the Southern Combination League cut to five points.
Littlehampton went ahead through Ryan Bell on 29 minutes, before Jack Cole made it 2-0 three minutes into the second half. Shoreham striker Rob O’Toole had a penalty saved before he got a goal back on 83 minutes but Mussels could not force an equaliser.
Bryan O’Toole said: “It was a really frustrating morning and it was tough to take.
“We weren’t great but did enough to win the game. We had a goal disallowed which shouldn’t have been at 0-0, and if we’d gone 1-0 up we’d have won the game, there’s no two ways about it.
“Their first goal took a massive deflection and flew into the top corner and their second might have been offside so we didn’t get the rub of the green, but we can’t make excuses.
“At 2-0 down, we went two at the back and three up front and it was just an avalanche of attacks from us. We just couldn’t get that second goal and it wasn’t to be on the day but we’ve still got a five point lead at the top.
“This is how every game will be for us now as it’s like a cup final for teams when they play us; Littlehampton celebrated like they’d won the league at the final whistle.
“We’re still quite relaxed about things, though. When we lost at Horsham YMCA earlier in the season, we then went ten games unbeaten and after we lost to Crowborough in the Sussex RUR Cup, we went ten unbeaten after that as well.
“Hopefully we can get on another run again now but, like I always say, we’ll just take it one game at a time.”
Mussels’ Scott Packer had an effort ruled out for a push, before Littlehampton went ahead when Bell’s 25-yard shot deflected off Shoreham defender Jack Hartley and flew into the top corner.
The hosts doubled their lead through Cole early in the second half, before Rob O’Toole had a penalty saved following a foul.
Shoreham had another penalty appeal waved away, before Rob O’Toole got a goal back from close range with seven minutes left.
Mussels then pressed for an equaliser but Richard Greenfield, Kevin Keehan, Joe Keehan and Rob O’Toole were unable to convert the openings that came their way as Littlehampton held on.
Shoreham’s next match is at home to Ryman League Premier Division leaders Bognor Regis in the Sussex Senior Cup on Tuesday evening (7.45pm).
Bryan O’Toole said: “Everyone at the club will look forward to the game. Against a team like that, it’s one that nine times out of ten we’d probably lose but if we turn up on the night, you never know what can happen.”
SHOREHAM: Heyburn; Hartley, O’Hagan, J.Keehan, Storrie; Packer, K.Keehan, Martin, Dryer; R.O’Toole, Burton. Subs: Denyer (Martin 45), Greenfield (Storrie 55), Deen (Burton 65), Goldson, Boddy.
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