Pope brace sends Worthing to FA Trophy second qualifying round
Two late strikes sealed Worthing’s progression to the next round of the Buildbase FA Trophy with an ultimately comfortable 3-0 victory over Lowestoft Town.
The hosts had the better of the early stages and took the lead in the 16th minute when Ben Pope, fresh off the back of a hat-trick in midweek, squeezed in Jazz Rance’s cross.
Chances were few and far between for much of the second half, but in stoppage time the game sprung into life when substitute Harvey Sparks set up Pope for his second.
Moments later the win was sealed by Keiron Pammant who headed in to ensure his side’s second win in succession.
Worthing made two changes to the side beat Lancing in the Sussex Senior Cup with cup-tied Darren Budd and Luca Wrightman replaced by Reece Hallard and Rance.
The Mackerel Men had a couple of good early chances with Alex Parsons off target from the edge of the box and Rance shooting softly at Lowestoft shot-stopper Ben Dudzinski.
They took the lead in the 16th minute when a combination of strength and skill saw Rance wriggle around three players and his deflected cross found Pope who slotted in.
Pammant wasted a good chance on the half hour mark when Rance picked him out at the far post but his first touch was too heavy.
Pammant then turned provider for Rance whose close range attempt was tipped around the post by goalkeeper Dudzinksi.
Much of the second half was a non-event with Reuben Schneider blasting over in the 54th minute when Callum White went down injured in possession just outside the box.
Schneider then crossed to Pammant who was unable to get a convincing connection with the ball and Pope’s attempt at scrambling across the line was halted by Dudzinski.
Lowestoft’s best chance fell to Josh Greenleaf in the 70th minute but Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Covolan was out quickly to block.
Reece Meekums could have doubled his side’s lead three minutes after his introduction as a substitute but he curled at Dudzinski after cutting into the box from the left hand side.
With four minutes to go the visitors could have snatched an equaliser but Covolan made an excellent save to deny Rory McAuley from Adam Smith’s free-kick.
In the 88th minute Pammant’s deep corner found Hallard at the far post but he headed into the side-netting.
Six minutes of stoppage time were announced and within seconds substitute Sparks picked out Pope in space in the box and the Worthing striker slotted in to make it 2-0.
Two minutes later the hosts sealed the victory by adding a third when Sam Rents crossed to Pammant whose header nestled in the far corner.
Worthing: Covolan, Colbran, Rents, Hallard, Young, Ovenden, Parsons (Wrightman 90’), Pammant, Pope (c), Rance (Meekums 77’), Schneider (Sparks 83’).
Subs Not Used: Watson, Boiling.
Goals: Pope 16’ 90’, Pammant 90’.
Lowestoft Town: Dudzinski, Cole (c), Barker, Smith, McAuley, Westlake, White, Borrer, Greenleaf, Hodd (Wren 51’), Nyadzayo.
Booked: Greenleaf 67’.
Subs Not Used: Putnins.