Two second half goals were enough for league leaders East Preston to leave a wind-swept Oval with three points after a hard fought victory.
Eastbourne United AFC started the game attacking towards Princes Park with the wind at their backs, but failed to take advantage despite having the better of the first 30 minutes.
The in-form Simon Catt had the first real chance of the match when he found space following a Lee Jules cross in the 13th minute, but Catt couldn’t find the target and fired over the newly erected fence at The Oval.
Catt found himself with a second opportunity in the following minute after a Peter Cooper flick on, but was unable to test Matt Evans in the East Preston goal.
It wasn’t all one sided though, as East Preston found themselves through on Adam Sargent’s goal on 23 minutes but were missing the final touch that could of put them ahead.
With much of the game so far being played in the middle of the pitch, chances for both sides were at a minimum until Cooper pounced on a mistake in the visiting defence to test Evans in the East Preston goal before Alex Duncan got back to clear for a corner following Evans’ save.
Into the second half and United came the closest to scoring when Shaun Lee saw his header saved on 54 minutes after a Simon Catt corner.
The deadlock was broken on 56 minutes, but the goal went to the visitors when Jordan Clark was allowed to much time in the penalty area. He chested the ball down into the path of Charlie Oatway who fired past Sargent and ended any hopes of a seventh game without conceding a league goal.
The real turning point of the match happened on 58 minutes when two East Preston players appeared to be in offside positions.
The ball fell to one of these players, Oatway, who slammed to ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
Despite Uniteds’ protests with the match officials, the goal was allowed to stand.
Paul Daubeney’s men managed to find a way back into the game on 64 minutes after a Simon Catt run and low cross found Billy Trickett six yards out and able to fire home to make the score 2-1 and ensured an exciting finish to the match.
For all their endeavours, United just couldn’t breakdown the visitors defence in the final 20 minutes and succumbed to their first league defeat since November 12 when Steyning Town won 2-0 at The Oval
Speaking after the game, Manager Paul Daubeney was not happy after the manner of defeat, he said,
“I can’t take anything away from my players today they battled and created chances but just didn’t take them.
“I think anybody watching today will see that both their goals were fortunate not to be given offside.
“We will get our heads down and work hard to go on another unbeaten run, I have some disappointed lads in the dressing room today but they can be proud of how far we have come this season.”
UNITED: Sargent; S. Lee, Hughes, Jules (C), Featherstone, Stracey, J. Bunn, Trickett, Cooper, Catt, Russell
Booked: Cooper, Featherstone, S.Lee
Referee: Richard Cherry man