CHICHESTER CITY missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the Sussex Senior Cup as they let a two-goal lead slip against Loxwood in atrocious conditions at Oaklands Park.
Player-manager Daren Pearce and skipper Graham Bush put them 2-0 up and that was the way it stayed until 15 minutes from time.
But then, after sustained pressure, Loxwood pulled it back to 2-1 through Tom Familton and sub Ollie Gill forced extra-time with three minutes left with a superb solo goal.
The added 30 minutes was the last thing tiring City or any of their fans wanted on a night when a good crowd had turned out despite a cold wind and swirling rain.
On a pitch that got heavier as the game went on, all the late momentum was with Loxwood and another Gill goal, an Eddie French volley and a Tim Martin strike sealed their passage into the last four.
Both sides can be proud of the battle they put up in the elements and there were a number of stoppages as players either got hurt in collisions that could be put down to the conditions or went down with cramp.
City’s bright first-half showing meant they deserved their lead. Pearce converted after Bush got away down the left and found him unmarked 12 yards out, then Bush poked in after a lovely move involving Kieran Hartley and Josh Case.
There were one or two half-chances to make it 3-0 and one ‘goal’ was ruled out for offside, but the longer it went on, the stronger Loxwood looked. They brought on all three subs and one of them, Gill, in particular made the crucial difference.
As soon as Familton scored in a goalmouth scramble, City must have feared the worst, and those fears came true.
Chichester played in the colours of Portfield - the club City merged with a few years back - in memory of former Portfield keeper Mark ‘Spider’ Hyde, who died suddenly last week.
Many of his friends were there to see the game and a minute’s silence was held before kick-off.
The victory leaves Loxwood one game from a showpiece final at the Amex, while Chichester are left to concentrate on the league, although are still in the John O’Hara Cup.
If the Oaklands pitch recovers in time, these two teams will meet again in division one of the Sussex League.
CHI CITY: Ender, Williams, Eyres, Pearce, Hegarty, Boniface, Hartley, Case, Frangou, Bush, Smith. Subs: Gromett, Ansa, Edwards, Taylor, Blackman.
LOXWOOD: Smith, Elkana, Hoyte, French, Familton, Swaine, Wood, Scally, Wright, Cave, Findlay. Subs: Martin, Pritchard, Holvey, Gill, Summerfield.
Ref: Tim Robinson