Josh Irish netted a hat-trick of penalties as Rustington kept up the pressure in their SCFL Division 2 title quest.
Irish remained cool to net three times from the spot, wrapping up a 3-2 home victory for Kerry Hardwell’s side against ten-man Upper Beeding.
But Blues were made to work hard for all three points against a Beeding side who had a man sent off after just 20 minutes.
Despite playing over an hour with ten-men, the visitors came from behind to lead 2-1 before Irish’s penalties took Hardwell’s troops to a win.
The victory ensures second-placed Rustington remain two points off leaders Angmering Seniors having played a game less.
Blues boss Hardwell said: “It was a big three points to start the year for us as we faced a well drilled Upper Beeding side.
“They found themselves down to ten men after 20 minutes.
“We started really well with lots of pressing and energy. It was a much improved performance from last week.
“Upper Beeding came flying out of the traps second half but Josh tucked away two penalties to win it for us.”
Beeding were reduced to ten men inside 20 minutes after one of their players saw red.
Skipper Steve Kirkham was fouled in the area ten minutes before the break and Irish tucked away the first of his penalties.
Beeding rallied and were level when Sam Gunn capitalised on a defensive mix up a minute later.
Beeding then took a surprise lead as Gunn superbly headed home a second seven minutes after the restart.
Blues were staring at a first league defeat of the campaign but stormed back.
Kirkham was fouled in the area again four minutes later. Irish made no mistake from the spot again to level things up.
Rustington were then awarded a third penalty, this time Regan Miles was fouled. Irish slammed home to complete his hat-trick and complete a turnaround win.
Blues host league rivals Rottingdean Village in a Sussex Intermediate Cup quarter-final encounter on Saturday.
RUSTINGTON: Nash, Anderton, Gilchrist, John, Miles, Peters, Jenkins, Brown, Kirkham, Irish, Darwin. Subs: Beaney, Hudson, Bennett, Miles, Ryder.
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