Loxwood FC’s fantastic season could end with some silverware after they waltzed past Eastbourne United AFC 4-0 on Wednesday to reach the Division 2 Cup final.
Long-term Division 2 leaders Eastbourne - who confirmed their promotion to Division 1 along with the Magpies a week ago - were well beaten and imploded in remarkable fashion with three of their players sent off.
Loxwood manager Dave Cocoracchio was delighted with his side’s performance and felt Eastbourne should even have had two more men sent off.
“There were two more stonewall sendings off,” Cocoracchio insisted. “They were the most ill-disciplined side I think I’ve ever played against, arguing and fighting amongst themselves.”
Goalkeeper Grant Young was first to see red just after half-time when he brought down Tim Martin as he went round him, and with no replacement on the bench, midfielder Jack Aston went between the sticks.
United were already one down, courtesy of Mark Cave’s opener from the penalty spot, and Cave had the chance to double the lead in the same fashion but saw his penalty saved. That was after Martin had been hacked down from behind in the box, the Eastbourne defender escaping with only booked with Cocoracchio adamant it was a clear red card.
“When you play a team of their quality there’s a big difference between going into half-time 1-0 or 2-0 up and I’ll never know how their player isn’t sent off,” he said.
Shaun Findlay then beat the makeshift Eastbourne goalkeeper straight from a corner just after the hour mark to ease any nerves.
Martin had been a thorn in the side of the Eastbourne backline all game and he made it three before Scott Dartnall was given his marching orders for an ill-timed lunge on half-way, and Pete Featherstone went the same way with ten minutes left.
With the visitors now coasting to victory the excellent Martin rubbed some salt in the wound with his second and his side’s fourth with a minute left on the clock.
“Tim’s performance was quite incredible,” his manager purred. “He was a threat all game, his pace frightened a very experienced defence and I’d say that was probably his best ever game for the club.”
And on the performance as a whole Cocoracchio added: “The biggest compliment I could pay to my team is that from the very first minute we didn’t let them settle, the level of our performance for the whole game was extremely high.”
Loxwood will now face Bexhill in the Division 2 Cup final, and are still in with the slim possibility of a league and cup double.
They trail Eastbourne by four points having played a game more, the leaders with four games left and the Magpies with three league matches still to play.
Cocoracchio isn’t giving up on league glory though. He added: “If we win our last three games we will definitely finish in second place.
“And Eastbourne’s last four games are really tough (including their final match against Broadbridge Heath, also already promoted) and I know their FA Vase semi-final defeat has taken a lot out of them.
“We still have an outside chance so all we can do is take care of our business and see what happens.”