Our men’s under-21s beat Littlehampton 4-3 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in normal time to be crowned Sussex Community Shield winners on Wednesday night.
Goals from Billie Clark and Lorent Tolaj had seen Andrew Crofts’s team come from behind to be on the brink of victory after 90 minutes, but Dion Jarvis’s free-kick in the third minute of stoppage time sent the game to penalties after Marshall Ball had opened the scoring for the Golds.
Last season’s Southern Combination Football League champions edged a tight first-half and had the opening chance after 21 minutes, when Josh Short burst into the box and struck a low effort across goal, but Killian Cahill stuck out his left leg to preserve his clean sheet.
However, Littlehampton did take the lead five minutes later when a swift counter-attack earned them a corner, and defender Marshall Ball rose highest to head home Jordan Layton’s set-piece.
In search of an instant response, Benicio Baker-Boaitey had his side’s first effort two minutes after the Golds got their opener, but the forward curled a first-time strike inches wide from 25-yards.
The former Porto winger created another good chance for Albion moments before the break, beating three Littlehampton defenders on a mazy run which took him into the box - but Clark struck his cut-back just wide with the last kick of the half.
Albion started the second half far more brightly than they had played for the duration of the first 45, and were level after 54 minutes when Clark hammered home substitute Bailey Smith’s perfect pull-back from 12 yards.
Smith was causing Jarvis all kinds of problems down the right and beat his man again after 68 minutes, but his dangerous low shot was kept out, and seconds later Clark nearly grabbed his second when clean through but dinked a right-footed effort wide.
Albion were dominating now and despite Lorent Tolaj having a goal disallowed for offside with 15 minutes remaining, the striker scored what looked to be the winner with a minute left on the clock.
Baker-Boaitey was the creator, slipping a clever free-kick into the path of Tolaj on the right-hand side of the box, and he fizzed a low effort under Golds keeper James Binfield.
That looked to seal a deserved victory for Crofts’s side based on their second-half display, but Jarvis hauled Littlehampton level in the 93rd minute when his free-kick from the right flew across goal and in off the far post.
The full-back’s equaliser sent the game to penalties, with spot-kicks taken in front of Littlehampton’s vocal travelling support.
Albion weren’t to be intimidated however, and after Tolaj, Clark and Jake Gee scored from twelve yards, Cahill superbly saved Jamie Carroll’s penalty.
Baker-Boaitey then calmly slotted home Albion’s fourth spot-kick to pile all the pressure on George Gaskin, and Littlehampton’s number nine fired over to crown Albion Sussex Community Shield champions.
Albion: Cahill, Nilsson, Trialist, Jackson (Penman 60), McConville, Chouchane (Knight 60), Ifill (Smith 45), Everitt (Gee 78), Tolaj, Baker-Boaitey, Clark.
Substitutes not used: Reid.