A stunning individual effort from Marvin Armstrong was the highlight of Worthing’s 4-2 win at Three Bridges on Saturday.
Joe Tennent and – in the second half – Mason Doughty both lined up against their former clubs for the first time, while Bridges featured former Woodside favourites, Brannon O’Neill, Kieron Thorp, Matt Whitehead and Tad Bromage in their starting eleven, with Antone Douglas and John Lansdale joining the fray later on. At the same time, Jamie Crellin barked instructions from the dugout.
The action got underway with the prominent Jasper Pattenden, a threat all afternoon, receiving a lovely sprayed pass out to him from Jesse Starkey after a patient build-up but, after coming inside to get his shot away, saw his goal bound attempt deflected to safety by the outstretched leg of a defender.
Pattenden had the home defence scrambling clear moments later, when he hit Thorp’s far post, only to see his side go behind with seven minutes still on the clock, as Andy Sesay got away down the left and his low delivery was guided home by the experienced Rob Tolfrey.
Ben Mendoza had two bites of the cherry; firstly being denied by the blocking Bromage and then trying his luck from distance, though Thorp was right behind his swerving sighter.
Brannon burst into the box but both he and the predatory Tolfrey were kept at bay by a resilient visiting rearguard, as Bridges upped the tempo.
Sesay the had time to line up a shot from long range but, like the Big Bad Wolf before him, couldn’t knock(or blow) down the house (of the turnstile variety) made of bricks.
On the half-hour mark, a surging run from left to right by Lloyd Dawes lead to Bromage bringing him down for a stonewall penalty. The tricky number seven got up quickly to despatch the spot-kick, despite the best efforts of Thorp, who got his hands to it but was beaten by the power.
The hosts weren’t behind for long, however, as Captain, Lee Hall’s ball in from the right went all the way across the box to leave the unmarked Aaron Goode with a simple tap-in.
Although, not before Bridges had, once more, tested the strength of the turnstile building, via an ambitious attempt at the resumption of play, after Dawes’ leveller.
With half-time approaching, Starkey showed great dexterity when bringing down a long pass from the right flank on his favoured left peg but failed to trouble Thorp, when he had a go on his right one.
That turned out to be a well planned precursor to what he did barely a minute later, when he robbed a dawdling Michael Aziaya on the left edge of the area and simply stroked the ball – right-footed – through the legs of Thorp at his near post, from a seemingly impossible angle.
Both sides opened proceedings after the break by, in the case of the host’s Skipper, Hall shooting weakly at Aaron Relf and for the Coastal-based visitors, continuing the theme of trying to demolish the turnstile outhouse, via Starkey’s free-kick.
Danny Barker floated in a cross that Pattenden glanced towards the target but Thorp was there to push his effort away and Starkey got his angles all wrong, as we hit the hour mark.
Then, came the goal of the game, as Marvin Armstrong picked up possession in the centre circle, in his own half and went on a mazy run through half the home team – holding off tackles and challenges along the way – before planting a left foot shot past the ‘keeper from just inside the box.
Their tails now well and truly up, Starkey picked out Pattenden on the right but the youngster couldn’t keep his attempt down and roles were nearly reversed by our number nine when he almost turned provider himself, after cutting inside Whitehead, for substitute Mason Doughty, only for the former Bridges striker to drag his effort across the six yard area and wide of the mark.
Into the final quarter of the contest and the visitors looked to get back in the game through two replacements – and former Reds – Antone Douglas, who couldn’t quite manage to twist his neck enough to apply sufficient contact, on John Lansdale’s corner.
Reece Placid went for glory and found the safe hands of Relf instead, when a simple pass to Ashley Robinson, shortly to his right, might have proved to be a better option.
Worthing tried to put the outcome beyond the home team, as Doughty took aim but a double deflection, the second off the, ahem, lower reaches of trialist, Shola Ayoola’s anatomy fell somewhat more kindly for fellow hopeful, Daniel O’Brien but, with time and space, he balloned his effort over the angle of far post and bar.
Pattenden got the better of Whitehead again, three minutes from time and only a top-drawer, one-handed save by sub ‘keeper, Tyrell Annakie prevented his subsequent delivery into the box being turned his into his own net, via the deftest of headers from Lansdale.
The last sixty seconds of the game produced one last hurrah and a goal, as a flowing breakaway ended with Dawes, on the left, finding Starkey who, in turn, spread the ball out to O’Brien and his inch-perfect cross was met by Ayoola, who applied the coup de grace, from close-range.