Any lingering hopes United had of making the third promotion place this season all but disappeared in a sloppy second half performance at Southwick on Saturday.
United started brightly enough and Liam Baitup in his first start drove home a through ball to give United a deserved lead.
However, Southwick weren’t prepared to roll over and young Lewis Finney who carried a real threat all game on the right latched onto a through ball and rolled the ball past the advancing Adam Sargent on the stroke of half time.
Southwick were given a lift by the goal and came out strongly for the second half. Finney blasted a good chance over the bar and Shaun Lee made two superb late challenges to hold Southwick at bay.
Peter Cooper muscled his way through at the other end but drove his effort powerfully wide.
It was now United under pressure and an uncharacteristic mistake by Pete Featherstone led to Southwick’s second goal.
The former Town defender headed into the path of Finney who made no mistake this time.
Another goal always looked likely and this time a misunderstanding allowed Finney through again, this time to square for substitute Idriz Adedoja to sweep home.
Cooper drilled in a Jamie Bunn pass deep into added time but unlike at Little Common last week there was to be no way back.
The team were disappointed with this result but deserve trewmendous credit to get into a challenging position after gaining only four points from the first eight league games.
UNITED: Sargent 7, Lee 8 (Brand), Hughes 7 (Russell), Jules 7, Featherstone 6,Stracey 7, Catt 7, Trickett 6, Cooper 7, Baitup 6, Del-Guadio 7 (Bunn)