Another abject display left Worthing relying on other results, as well as their own, in a final day showdown with Merstham.
For reasons best known to him, Manager, Adam Hinshelwood made an astonishing SIX changes to the side that had scraped a point against Tonbridge; Ricky and Ross were carrying minor knocks and were replaced by Budd and Clarke respectively. Crane, Billy Barker and Parsons all came back in, while there was a first start for Henry Ikeije and a fit again Danny Barker returned amongst the substitutes.
A patient build-up, after eight minutes, lead to James Crane playing into David Ajiboye’s feet and he turned his marker to release Alex Parsons, whose shot deflected behind for a corner. The resultant set-piece ended with Joe Clarke trying an overhead kick that, sadly, went over.
Just shy of the quarter-hour mark and a similar effort from Jalen Jones met with the same outcome before James Crane headed a Hakeem Adelakun free-kick out for a flag-kick at the other end. The former Whitehawk man almost punished a flapping Lucas Covolan from the dead-ball routine that followed, only to flash a shot wide of the ‘keeper’s left-hand post.
Midway through the opening period, Ajiboye made room for an effort but drilled it wide of the mark and a Parsons knockdown set Darren Budd up for a shooting opportunity that also missed the target.
The visitor’s first serious attempt on a baking-hot afternoon saw Clarke sting the fingertips of James Bracken, who tipped his curler onto the crossbar and out for a corner. From it, Ajiboye, loitering on the edge of the area, made a darting run across and down the left-hand side of it and, despite appearing to be bundled over by Jack Tucker, got straight back up and battled his way to the byline, where his cross was missed by Jones and fired back over by Budd but, only for a throw-in.
In stoppage time, Parsons won a corner that Jones headed over, which summed up a lacklustre performance, in a game that looked like neither team had anything to play for.
Jesse Starkey drifted in off the left wing but failed to really test Bracken and then Red’s were gifted the opportunity of an equaliser, when Juevan Spencer clipped the heels of Ajiboye, ten minutes into the final forty-five. Unfortunately, despite Casual’s number one going the wrong way, our number seven side-footed a rather tame effort wide of the near post.
Warren Mfula had Lucas at full-stretch as he fizzed a shot narrowly the wrong side of the upright but got his aim spot-on moments later, as he rose highest to power home a header at the back stick from Majed Osman’s free-kick, that was only marginally outside the box.
Ollie Pearce hadn’t been on long, when he drove into the area and forced Bracken into a low but fairly routine save before the dulcet tones of an ice-cream van proved to be no more than wishful thinking.
A by-and-large uneventful fare so far was livened up in the last few throes by Alfie Young’s intervention, to stop Casual’s sub, Benjamin Aghadiuno from regaining the host’s lead, with Covolan staying alert to smother a second attempt by the same player, seconds later.
A rare flowing move by the Sussex guests saw Clarke start it off in the centre circle, by laying the ball forward to Ajiboye, then Kwame took over and slipped in the centre-half to finish low across the ‘keeper for a surprising equaliser.
Rob Jamison’s downward header bounced up to give Lucas a comfortable catch with the hosts looking to regain their advantage, as the contest entered added time.
Starkey spotted Parsons in space on the right and his delivery resulted in Jack Strange clearing Jones’ header off the line; even Lucas was up from the back by this stage.
Kwame drove from deep and found Young but he overhit his ball through to Clarke and Worthing hearts were in mouths, until Mfula’s diving header from Adelakun’s free-kick was ruled out for offside.
Strange was in the right place at the right time to deny Jones again but he wasn’t required for a third occasion, as the big man headed over the bar, after Colbran had been kept out by Bracken at the expense of a corner.
Man of The Match honours must go to Louis Clark; for finding more than six minutes of highlights from a game where the final three, plus the additional eight-and-a-half at the end of it were infinitely more entertaining than the preceding eighty-seven.