A LATE Gary Elliott double wonder save preserved a point for Storrington Football Club and denied local rivals Steyning all three points in an entertaining derby on Tuesday evening.
Mark O’Regan had slotted Storrington ahead in an encounter in which a 1-1 draw and point apiece was probably a fair result, before Phil Williamson eventually equalised for Town.
Steyning pressed for the winner and twice looked as though they would get it but Elliott’s superb reflexes kept out Adam Burton’s pile-driver and then his close-range follow-up in the dying minutes when Town’s top scorer looked poised to score.
Despite neither side having much to play for, with Steyning safe in Division 2 and the Swans perched in upper mid-table, the “Old Farm” derby was a highly entertaining match in front of a bumper crowd for Steyning’s last home game in a season of progress.
O’Regan had an early effort disallowed from Luke Jearum’s free kick before the woodwork was rattled, not for the last time, when Swans’ John Rhodie let fly from 25 yards and Craig Grantham unluckily stabbed just wide from the loose ball.
If Swans had edged the first half, then the second was almost all Steyning from the hour mark onwards – after Storrington had gone ahead through O’Regan on 55 minutes after a move involving Jake Cockerton and Grantham.
Burton was again denied by the increasingly impressive Elliott, Williamson should have done better than head over unmarked from four yards, Ryan De Freitas was just off-target with a dipping volley and Storrington’s Tom Pickford almost inadvertently gave his former side a gift when he diverted a Harris free kick inches over.
Town’s Ben Shelford’s free kick then led to Williamson’s equaliser, and just when looked as though a Steyning winner was on the cards, Elliott’s heroics proved otherwise.
Steyning manager Richard Whittington said: “I thought a draw was about right, they edged the first half and we had the second, it was nice to have good performance in our last home game in our derby match.
“It was a good game and their keeper kept them in it, he was excellent and how he kept Adam out at the end I’ll never know.
“We’re not easing off and giving up on the season, we’ve got two tough games left, both of which we will be good tests for us, so we want a strong finish to get as high as we can.”
Swans joint manager James Baker felt his side should have won it, and said: “We had enough chances to win it, and we needed to put one of them away early on and I think we would have gone to win, but credit to Steyning, they came back well, although I was disappointed with the goal we conceded.
“We dived in needlessly and then didn’t track the runner for the goal. There wasn’t a lot in it and it was a superb double save by Gaz (Elliott) at the end, although it would have been unjust to lose it.”