Two goals in the final 10 minutes saw Eastbourne United AFC have to settle for a point after a 3-3 draw at Rustington in Sussex County League Division Two.
With a blustery wind at their backs in the first half, it was United who took control and deservedly took the lead after just six minutes when Liam Baitup headed home unmarked at the back post after good work by strike partner Pete Cooper.
The lead was doubled after 21 minutes as Nick Barden unleashed a half-volley from 20 yards that squirmed through the ‘keepers’ grip and rolled into the net as United appeared to be coasting to another routine victory.
The second half proved to be a different scenario as Rustington came out firing on all cylinders and pulled a goal back.
Chris Darwin capitalised on a slip by Gianluca Del-Gaudio to slot past Sargent.
Simon Catt and substitute Jack Divall both stung the palms of the home ‘keeper before Divall opened his United account after a short corner was looped to the back post by Catt.
The recent signing from AFC Uckfield headed home as United restored their two goal cushion.
But United’s demons from earlier in the season came back to haunt them as a cross into the area wasn’t dealt with and Darwin struck again to slide the ball home and set up a nervous finale.
With six minutes left on the clock, a free-kick on the edge of the United area was dispatched into the top corner of Sargent’s goal by Steve Kirkham to pull the scores level.
United’s misery was compounded with the late dismissal of Simon Catt for a second bookable offence.
Next up for United is bottom of the table Saltdean United at The Oval on Friday night (7.45pm).
The result keeps Eastbourne United in sixth place in the division two table on 21 points from the opening 11 matches.
Newhaven lead the way at the top on 32 points from 13 matches with Littlehampton in second.