Despite a brace from the in-form striker Danny Leach, Hailsham Town went down 3-2 to East Preston and suffered their first defeat of the season at The Beaconsfield on Saturday.
The opening goal came as early as the second minute - George Gaskin was given space to open the scoring after a controversial free kick ended a Stringers foray forward.
By the 11th minute, the scores were level. Great work on the right from Ashley Hall was rewarded when Leach fired past Preston ‘keeper Bryant from just inside the box.
Hailsham had the first of two penalty appeals waved away after Leach looked to have been tripped inside the box, before, at the other end, Garnham lashed home from close range after Hailsham failed to deal with a ball to the far post.
On 33 minutes, it was three to the visitors as Duncan scored from the penalty spot after Paul Richardson handled and was booked when he could have seen red. Controversy struck again when what looked like a blatant push on Leach in the box went unpunished close to the break.
Chances for both sides came and went after the interval. Hailsham’s Russ Tanner’s was the busier of the two keepers as East Preston’s midfield dominated.
Preston were fortunate not to be down to 10 when ‘keeper Bryant fouled the onrushing Shane Saunders outside the box. Craig Ottley’s free kick went straight into the wall.
The industrious Hall helped provide the game with a close climax - his fine through ball was neatly converted by Leach as he claimed his 12th of the season with 10 minutes to go. Try as they might McCreadie’s men could not force the equaliser.
Despite defeat, Hailsham Town stay in the top three of division two, with their goal difference boosted by recent big wins against Seaford, Loxwood and Bexhill.
On Tuesday (last night) they entertained Lancing in the John O’Hara Cup. (7.30pm)
HAILSHAM: Tanner, D Stevens, Ottley, Richardson, Earley, Fletcher, Hall (Norman 83), Jarvis, Leach, Saunders, Attril MOM: Danny Leach - Two well taken goals
Referee: K Dawber.