Worthing Football Club joint boss Gary Elphick saw signs of improvement despite his side slipping to a fifth successive Ryman League Premier Division defeat last night.
First-half strikes from Omar Bugiel and Lloyd Dawes had fired Worthing into a shock 2-0 lead at high-flying Havant & Waterlooville.
However, Elphick’s side came away pointless as Hawks turned things around with three goals in the second period.
After Worthing had Corey Heath dismissed for a second yellow on 90 mintes, Lee Molyneaux struck two minutes into stoppage time to snatch a dramatic victory.
Despite the defeat, Elphick felt his side put in an impressive performance and said: “We did ride our luck at times but every team is going to have to at Havant.
“They are a quality side, with some great individual players but we gave it everything.
“I asked for work rate, desire and pressure before the game, which I got.
“I’m not one to complain about officials but I think some of the decision-making wasn’t the best and that could well have cost us.
“If we can push Havant that close, then believe it is only a matter of time before we turn our form around in the league.”
Matt Paterson had a shot blocked inside the area as the hosts made the early running.
It was the Rebels, however, who led thanks to a bizarre eighth-minute goal.
There seemed little danger, with the Hawks in possession midway inside their own half.
But when Molyneaux smashed his clearance into the back of Omar Bugiel, the ball rebounded past stranded goalkeeper Ryan Young and into the net from 40 yards.
Worthing were attacking with pace and Bugiel forced a low one-handed save from Young.
On 32 minutes, the visitors extended their lead after Ryan Woodford was penalised on the edge of his area.
Young was left wrong-footed when Lloyd Dawes’ fiercely-struck shot deflected off the defensive wall and into the net.
The home side got back into the game two minutes after the restart with a Jason Prior strike.
Prior drove a low shot through a crowded goalmouth into the corner of the net when the visitors failed to deal with a Rory Williams cross. Paterson and George Barker then wasted two glorious chances to put the Hawks on level terms.
The pair made up for their misses, though, when they combined to engineer a 65th-minute equaliser.
Paterson showed good perseverance in the final third to win the ball back and then play in Barker, who scored with a shot across the goalkeeper.
The hosts were in the ascendancy and Paterson went closest with a drive that shaved the wrong side of the post.
Then, in a dramatic finish, the visitors were reduced to ten men in stoppage-time and Molyneaux pounced to grab the winning goal and send Worthing to defeat.
WORTHING: Banks; Hendon, Heath, Watson, Rents; Dawes, Wills, Axell, Newton; Bugiel, Stanislaus. Subs: Sparks (Dawes), O’Neill (Stanislaus), Edwards (Axell), Fagan.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.worthingherald.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Worthing.news
3) Follow us on Twitter @Worthing_Herald
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Worthing Herald - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.