TEN-MAN Steyning Town Football Club exited the FA Vase away to division-higher Loxwood on Saturday.
The turning point in the game was a straight red card to Town goalkeeper Aaron Jeal seven minutes into the second half after he hauled down Dean Wright, who stole the ball off the stopper after a terrible back pass.
Sixteen-year-old Ollie Gill converted the spot-kick past Jamie Hollis, who came off the bench to don the gloves for the visitors, to put the Magpies 3-1 ahead.
Loxwood were already in the ascendency at that point, having taken the lead three minutes earlier when Michael Woods latched on to a teasing Shaun Findlay cross.
That was after a tame first half where Steyning’s Matt Dodd levelled things up on the half-hour mark after Wright’s 22nd-minute goal had given the hosts the lead.
Wright poked past Jeal despite Steyning – who switched to playing five across the back midway through the half – appeals for offside, to take the lead, while Steyning levelled after Loxwood failed to clear their lines from a free kick.
After a quickly-taken set-piece, the ball was delivered across the box for a second time and headed back to Dodd for a simple half-volley.
In the second half, the Magpies threatened to run riot with the extra-man advantage with a series of fine passing moves, but Town had some Hollis heroics to be thankful for.
He pulled off a superb diving save to push away a Lewis Holvey header from a corner, and put in another two smart stops soon afterwards.
Holvey did add a fourth on 66 minutes with a screaming shot into the nearside top corner, while 17-year-old Mitchell Casselman hit what was the pick of the bunch with 11 minutes left.
He picked a lofted pass out the air, switched the ball on to his right foot and curled the ball home into the far top corner from outside the area with Hollis helpless.
Casselman forced another acrobatic save from stand-in keeper Hollis, who despite being a goalkeeper, has recently been playing as an outfielder for Town’s reserve team.
Division-lower Town rallied in the closing stages and pulled a late goal back with virtually the last kick of the game when Jack Boxall latched on to the loose ball after a free kick and drilled home, much to the frustration of Loxwood stopper Sam Smith.
Steyning manager John Suter said: “The penalty was the turning point in the game. He (goalkeeper) should have controlled the ball and might have done if he wasn’t wearing a baseball cap, as he could have headed it.
“I am glad we scored that goal at the end as we played some good football and knocked it around quite well.
“You won’t see the whole story by just looking at the result, but they aren’t a bad side and looked good going down each flank, but going down to ten men, that was the killer. They had played well enough with 11 on 11, yet alone 11 on 10.”
STEYNING: Jeal; Hare, Kennett, Parsons, Pickup; Early, Boxall, Dodd, Harding; Towse, Levoi. Subs: Hollis (Pickup 52), Smith (Dodd 62), Kilner-Brown (Early 64), Finch.