Rustington’s hopes of the treble came crashing down after they suffered Sussex Intermediate Cup semi-final heartache.
Blues, who had failed to taste defeat all season going into the tie, were on the end of a 3-1 home extra-time defeat at the hands of Upper Beeding.
Kerry Hardwell felt it was ‘tough to take’ as the club’s hopes of winning silverware on three fronts went up in flames.
Chris Darwin’s effort 20 minutes from time forced extra-time after cancelling out James Rowland’s second half opener.
However Beeding, who had gone down 5-0 to the Blues in their League Cup semi-final clash last month, upset the odds with Kris Harding and Brad Hunt firing them into the final.
But boss Hardwell does not want his troops to dwell on the defeat with the double still up for grabs this season.
He said: “It was a tough one to take for the boys.
“We dominated the game throughout in what were difficult conditions but credit to Upper Beeding, they were solid and organised throughout.
“It was a hard one to take as I thought we were the better side all game but we can’t dwell on this defeat as we have the league to try and retain.”
Several fine saves from Beeding stopper Darren Ford ensured Beeding went in level at the break.
The tie then sprung to life on the hour. Blues goalkeeper Billy Nash tipped on to a post after a quick break but skipper Rowland was on hand to poke home the rebound on the hour. Blues were throwing everything at the visitors and drew level when Darwin fired home from the edge of the area on 70 minutes.
Neither side could find a winner so extra-time followed. Blues were camped in Beeding’s half for the majority. But Harding’s 30-yard screamer in the dying seconds restored the visitors’ lead before Hunt added a third late on to ensure Beeding booked a spot in the final.
Rustington travel to rivals Littlehampton United in the league on Saturday.
RUSTINGTON: Nash; Beaney, Gilchrist, John, Miles, O’Connor, Paraficz, Anderton, Ryder, Irish, Darwin. Subs: Llewellyn, Kirkham, MacIver, Bennett, Chick.
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