Striker Nat Pinney rescued Eastbourne Borough as they so nearly blew a two-goal lead in the FA Cup against Hartley Wintney at Priory Lane.
Borough were cruising and looked set to bank the £7,500 prize money and book a place in the fourth qualifying round courtesy of strikes from Darren Lok and Kane Haysman. It could have been an awful lot more for Tommy Widdrington’s side had not been for some fine goalkeeping from away stopper Craig Atkinson and some determined defending from the Combined Counties outfit.
Wintney, who operate three divisions down in the non league pyramid, refused to surrender and struck on 76 minutes thanks to a header from substitute Liam Eagle and their skipper Sam Argent levelled the scores with a sublime strike on 82 minutes.
But deep in injury time Pinney popped up at the back post following a goal mouth scramble and forced the winner.
Borough began well and took the lead on 15 minutes. A quick freekick released Jack Evans down the right, his cross was deflected on to the bar by the away keeper and Lok fired home the rebound from close range with an acrobatic freekick.
Borough so nearly added a second during a crazy spell just on the half hour mark as Hartley Wintney cleared three efforts off the line in the space of a minute. Firstly, a swift attack saw Pinney find Gavin McCallum and his exquisite chip over the keeper was brilliantly cleared off the line by Callum Eagle. Kane Haysman followed up with a header but that was also hacked off the line by Joe Paris.
Moments later Pinney beat a defender, fired a left footed shot past keeper Atkinson but this time Tom Walsh was on hand to block a certain goal.
Atkinson also produced two cracking saves, one to deny a long-range effort from McCallum and the second saw him save from Lok when the striker was clean through.
Borough were forced into a first half substituion as 18-year-old academy ‘keeper Louis Rogers replaced Lewis Carey. Carey fell awkwardly as he leapt to claim a high ball into the box.
Chances continued after the break and once again the away keeper held firm as he finger tipped a Haysman effort around the post.
But from the resultant corner, the keeper punched the ball high into the air and Haysman looped a header back over the keeper and under the cross bar for 2-0.
Wintney battled back and almost scored on 72 minutes as Adam Evriss saw his clever chip from an acute angle hit the cross bar.
But they got their goal shortly after as Eagle rose highest in the box to nod home from close range - it was a goal that had Borough boss Tommy Widdrington seething.
Wintney continued to push and Borough looked increasingly nervous. They got the leveller on 82 minutes when skipper Argent beat two defenders before blasting an effort beyond Rogers.
As supporters checked their sat navs for Tuesday’s trip to Hartley Wintney, Pinney sealed the win in dramatic fashion much to the relief of all at Priory Lane.
Eastbourne Borough: Carey (Rogers 40), Evans, Beale, Simpemba, Khinda-John, Collier, Worrall (Baptista 63), McCallum, Pinney, Haysman, Lok (Romain 71).
Subs: Stone, Wilson, Tate, Black.
Hartley Wintney: Atkinson, Eagle, Walsh, Parfitt, Hollamby, Noakes, Jannaway, Paris (Eagle 63), Argent, Jones, Everiss.
Subs: Eagle, Vockins, Elward, Horkan, Nurse, Duff, Maddock
Referee: N Morrison
Meanwhile Eastbourne Town suffered a 4-1 defeat in their FA Cup clash at Didcot Town.