A gritty Rustington performance saw them win the Sussex Proballer Intermediate Challenge Cup, in memory of Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, after a 2-1 victory over a determined Eastbourne Rangers side, on a wet and windy Tuesday evening at Culver Road.
The Blues went ahead on the half-hour mark through Aaron Hooker-Meehan and then doubled their lead ten minutes later as Chris Darwin swept home.
Eastbourne came out resurgent in the second-half and with the wind behind them pulled a goal back eleven minutes from time courtesy of Tony Russell, but Rustington held on to get their hands on the prestigious silverware.
Rustington dominated the first-half and went close as early as the tenth minute as Darwin’s whipped free-kick evaded everyone, including Eastbourne keeper Jason Tibble, and nearly sneaked in at the back post.
Hearts were in mouths soon after as Tibble failed to gather on the edge of his area and Darwin capitalised picking up the loose ball and striking at goal, only for Danny Johnson to get back in-time for Eastbourne and block on the line.
The chances kept coming for Rustington and next up was Hooker-Meehan’s well struck free-kick that curled over the wall and away from Tibble but cannoned back off the angle of post and crossbar.
Minutes later they came close again to taking the lead but in fortuitous fashion, after his goal-line clearance heroics earlier Johnson very nearly directed the ball into his own net as he attempted to cut out a cross-field pass but fortunately for him it dropped narrowly wide of the target.
Rustington didn’t have to wait much longer to break the deadlock though as the resulting corner was only half cleared and a cross into the box was knocked down in the 6-yard-box where Hooker-Meehan was first to react and smash the ball into the roof of the net giving Tibble no chance.
One became two just five minutes before the break, Steve Kirkham’s cross wasn’t cleared by Johnson, who found himself in the thick of the action in the first period, and Darwin was there to control and drill the ball past Tibble to double the lead.
Tibble did well to deny Rustington a third goal before the half was out, as Kirkham flicked the ball over the top for Darwin but his shot was well stopped by the chest of the keeper as he rushed off his line.