Eastbourne Town booked a place in the final of the RUR Cup with a thrilling penalty shootout victory over Arundel at the Saffrons on Tuesday night.
Matt Darby struck the winning spot-kick after a nail-biting shootout which saw Scott Tipper and Liam Da Costa miss for the visitors, while Danny Ellis ensured a nervy finish with a miss of his own.
On a gruelling night, Jack Turner gave Town the lead on just five minutes before Tipper replied immediately for the Mullets. Joe Dryer had a chance to wrap it up in normal time but his penalty was pushed away by Tom Boyle and Town had to call on all of their reserves to book their place alongside Loxwood in the March 17 final at Lancing.
“It’s great to be in a final,” said manager John Lambert.
“The players took it on and gave me everything and some were dead on their feet by the end. We were worried that some of the penalties would even reach the goal.
“My lot never do anything easy, it’s a wonder I’m not bald.”
If there were any nerves prior to kick-off there were no signs of it as Turner opened the scoring with the game’s first attack. Ellis rose highest to head at goal and Boyle could only parry into the defender’s path to crash home.
Arundel’s response was immediate, though, as Tipper went racing in on goal to slot past Nessling in the Eastbourne goal just a minute later.
Dryer was given a golden opportunity to restore the lead when Dan Smith was hauled down by Da Costa in the area on 22 minutes, but Boyle guessed right as the winger’s penalty was palmed away.
The visitors arguably shaded the second half and had chances through Da Costa and Jordan Clark, while Matt Maclean was unlucky to see his goalbound header clawed away for the hosts.
Nessling produced a super stop on 92 minutes before an uneventful extra-time, and the Town stopper re-produced the heroics in the shootout to send his side through to the final.
Town team: Nessling, Duncan, Turner, Henson (Robinson), Hollobone, Dryer, Ellis, Maclean, Darby, Smith (Sutton), Clark (Upton)