Bexhill United Football Club suffered its first defeat of the season after seeing a two-goal lead disappear on Saturday.
The Pirates were beaten 4-2 away to Steyning Town in Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One having led 2-0 at one stage during the first half.
Having been pegged back to 2-2 by half time, Bexhill had influential midfielder Kyle Holden sent-off during the second period and conceded twice more thereafter.
Missing right-back Chris Rea, Bexhill dropped Ashley Kidman back into the defence and Georges Gouet was included in the starting line-up.
Bexhill made a fantastic start on Steyning’s artificial 3G pitch and their pressing game forced a Steyning side which likes to pass the ball into going direct.
Gordon Cuddington and Corey Wheeler failed to convert good opportunities in the opening few minutes, but it wasn’t long before the visitors were in front. Cuddington was shoved in the box and Craig Ottley neatly rolled home the resulting penalty.
Bexhill then doubled their advantage. Drew Greenall went clear following a touch off a Steyning head and although he was caught by the backtracking defenders, Greenall laid the ball off for Corey Wheeler, who scored at the second attempt after his first shot was saved.
The visitors were comfortable at that stage, but Steyning got one back with a very soft goal from Bexhill’s point of view. Ben Bacon’s 20-yard shot squirmed through Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose and into the bottom corner.
Bexhill then seemed to stop pressing, passing the ball and tracking runners, and with their tails now up, Steyning equalised a couple of minutes later.
Steyning attacked down their left and after Connor Robertson unsuccessfully dived in, the ball was cross for Bacon to score his second with another shot which eluded Rose.
Bexhill suffered a setback when last season’s leading scorer Cuddington had to come off at half time having been limping for around 15 minutes.
And they endured a further blow early in the second period when Holden was sent-off for what the referee considered an elbow when challenging for an aerial ball.
Bexhill fell behind - for the first time this season - immediately afterwards. The resulting free kick led to the ball being crossed into the area for Alex Townley to score with a far post header.
Minutes later Steyning added another. Bacon curled a free kick from the edge of the box into the top corner to complete his hat-trick, although Bexhill manager Ryan Light felt it shouldn’t have been awarded in the first place.
Bexhill then switched to a 3-5-1 formation and finished quite strongly. They fashioned a couple of chances towards the end, one of which ended with Ashley Kidman putting a free header over the crossbar.
Bexhill: Rose; Robertson, Kidman, McFarlane, Ottley (Harffey); Holden, Cuddington (Giles), Lopez; Gouet (McGuigan), Wheeler, Greenall.
Standings (played five matches unless stated): 1 Selsey 15pts, 2 Wick 15, 3 LITTLE COMMON 13, 4 Langney Wanderers 10, 5 Seaford Town 10, 6 BEXHILL UNITED 8, 7 St Francis Rangers 8, 8 Mile Oak 7, 9 Steyning Town (4) 6, 10 Storrington 6, 11 Hailsham Town 5, 12 Oakwood (4) 5, 13 AFC Varndeanians 5, 14 Lingfield 4, 15 Midhurst & Easebourne 3, 16 Billingshurst 3, 17 Southwick 1, 18 Ringmer 0.