Not for the first time this season, Worthing refused to lie down and headed home with a point, thanks to a dramatic late equaliser, this time, from Jesse Starkey.
The Tinkerman was back, as there were five changes to last week’s starting line-up. Although, in fairness, Joel Colbran and David Ajiboye had come on and, kept their places. The biggest news saw a return for the hugely popular, Lucas Covolan along with Danny Barker, while Jasper Pattenden took over from the departed Zack Newton, whose latest loan spell had ended in N12.
It was the visitors who were first on the attack, as Ajiboye got clear down the right and his pass to Ollie Pearce was hooked on by the former home favourite to Adubofour-Poku, who stung the palms of Dan Lincoln at his near post.
Shortly afterwards, Brad Lethbridge created space on the edge of the box, only to see Colbran’s lunge take the sting out of his shot and safely through to Covolan.
Straight back up the other end and Ajiboye forced Lincoln to push away his attempt, after Pearce had picked him out in space, around twenty yards out.
A Worthing corner then lead to the game’s opening goal; unfortunately,for Bognor.
Lincoln beat Jalen Jones to Ricky Aguiar’s left-sided corner and threw the ball out to Mason Walsh, just inside his own half. He laid it off to Lethbridge, who went on a barn-storming run that saw him hold off Starkey and took him into the area, where he found a waiting Walsh, who gleefully tapped into the empty net.
The lead was almost wiped out immediately, when Harvey Read sold Lincoln short with an underhit backpass and Kwame stole in, rounded the ‘keeper but hit the side netting.
Pattenden came close when he cut inside Calvin Davies and drifted across the eighteen yard line, only to drag wide of the right-hand upright, before the host’s opposite full-back, Joe Tomlinson, doubled his side’s advantage.
Doug Tuck set up the Sponsor’s Man of The Match who, despite being faced with both Barker and Colbran, still managed to find the back of the net. Although, Lucas will be disappointed at letting the shot through his hands on it’s way into the bottom corner.
Lethbridge had chances to increase the advantage but was denied by Colbran and Covolan in quick succession, with the bearded Brazilian keeping out the Pompey loanee again soon after.
Home Captain, the ever-popular Harvey Whyte, lifted a decent opening over the bar and found the warm gloves of Covolan; while Davies bravely blocked from Pattenden and Lethbridge saw his latest effort stopped by a posse of red shirts but, Bognor went into the break two goals clear.
Ajiboye decimated the local starling population, once play resumed, with a shot that sailed over and volleyed wide, as he mishit when well-placed.
Aguiar drove a powerful effort from distance straight into the grateful gloves of Lincoln; preceding a shot by Starkey that deflected behind for a corner, after Ajiboye and Kwame had combined to create the opportunity for the number eleven.
The next chance also fell to Jesse, with Pearce on this occasion the architect and Ajiboye the instigator; though the subsequent sidewinder missed the target and cleared the crossbar.
Jones headed over from Starkey’s flag-kick, while Lucas was called into action when he dived out to hold a low cross by Walsh and prevent it from finding a white shirt in the penalty area.
Midway through the second period, Aguiar played a free-kick short to Ajiboye and he, in turn, slipped in Pearce, who dug out a delivery that was palmed away by Lincoln’s left hand but only as far as Ajiboye. His effort, along with that of substitute, Joe Clarke was blocked and the score remained the same.
Another set-piece failed to produce any further addition to The Rock’s total, when Read couldn’t quite get his head on the end of Theo Widdrington’s left wing curler.
Adubofour-Poku set Ajiboye racing clear of the halfway line but his teammate placed his shot wide of the right-hand stick, just inside the ‘D.’
Starkey’s free-kick dropped onto the top of the stand but it was the next dead-ball situation that proved to be the game-changer.
Alex Parsons had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, when he played a tidy one-two with Ajiboye down the right wing and fired in a cross, that bounced up off the turf and hit the hand of the unfortunate Whyte. Captain Crane stepped up and stroked the spot-kick down the middle, as Lincoln dived to his left.
The visitors drove forward twice in the ensuing quarter of an hour but without any end product.
Then, as we entered added time – of which there was to be four minutes – Aguiar sent a deep free-kick into the Bognor box from the right, that Lincoln got in front of Jones to punch clear but not far enough and, after Ajiboye’s drilled drive was blocked, Starkey was on hand to fire home a finish, that took took a deflection of the luckless Whyte and wrong-footed Lincoln, to salvage a point !