Nyetimber Pirates finally clinched the WSFL premier division on Tuesday night thanks to a 1-1 draw with nearest title rivals Lavant at Nyetimber Lane.
Ted Griffin’s boys went into the game with a host of regulars out injured but knew they only needed a point for glory.
Nyetimber set up the title-deciding clash after brushing aside West Chiltington on Saturday with a 3-0 victory, the goals coming from Stonelake (2) and James Fallick.
Lavant knew only a comprehensive win would keep their title hopes alive and they looked like they come to spoil the Pirates party, starting the brightest.
Lavant caused the Pirates backline issues from the start as the home side struggled to settle.
The away side’s persistence finally paid off on 20 minutes when Aaron Hancock broke free down the right and teed up Pete Caveney, who smashed home to put them one ahead.
The goal kicked the Pirates into life and they were unlucky not to be equal before the break but several chances were saved by Ash Court in the Lavant goal.
It looked like it wasn’t going to be the Reds’ night when their injury woes continued with Fallick and Curtis Horn both limping off just before the break.
The patched-up Looters came out a different beast in the second half and started to threaten with every attack.
Del Chester thought he had equalised on 55 minutes, but his contender for goal of the season was ruled offside.
Stonelake and Phil Turner on the wings didn’t stop working all night, both pushing for the all-important equaliser, and it finally came on 70 minutes when Turner’s cross was met by the big man Chester, who thundered home his header sending the Pirates into raptures.
The celebration did get a bit out of hand and Court in the Lavant goal was sent off for his reaction, leaving Lavant with ten men for the remaining 20 minutes.
As soon as the Pirates were level they seemed to be in control with the experienced Jamie Angell sent on to calm things down and Aaron Millar replacing Turner to give the midfield more venom in the dying minutes.
At the final whistle, the emotion was clear to see from a side who only five seasons ago were playing in the Chichester & West Sussex Sunday League.
Pirates joint chairman and founder Charlie Welling said: “It’s not really sunk in what we’ve done yet – we formed only in 2010 and most people said we wouldn’t last a season but we have worked hard to achieve our goals and the hard work has paid off.
“Ted’s done a fantastic job taking over a struggling side last year turning us into a side that teams fear facing.
“This triumph has been down to the whole squad as every single one of them has played an important role in this and even the four or five ressies that have come in the last few weeks have been spot on.”
The Pirates look to complete the season unbeaten when they host West Chiltington on Saturday and travel to TD Shipley on Monday.
Pirates: Pye, Williamson, Pasterfield, Horn, D Towers, Chester, Haga Hammond, Fallick, Westbrook, Stonelake, Turner. Subs: Frangou, Linkhorn, Millar, Angell.
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