Cameron Tutt and Joe Tennent featured in a strong-looking line-up as Worthing kicked-off their only home friendly against former player, Arron Hopkinson’s Southern Combination League side.
It was the hosts who got into their stride early though, with Ollie Pearce’s left wing cross landing on the head of Callum Kealy and forcing the United ‘keeper into a good reaction save, courtesy of his protruding left leg.
Seconds later, Buddy fired inches wide before the Pearce/Kealy combo worked to good effect again but this time, it took the intervention of a black and white striped defender to avert the danger.
The same fate befell both Pearce and Tennent, when the former came inside to have a go himself, only to be denied by a well-placed man on the line, who headed away to safety. Then the new signing from Three Bridges saw his effort kept out by a goal line clearance too.
Despite all this pressure however, the opening goal of the evening went to Eastbourne United.
Danny Barker got caught in possession in his own six yard box by the lurking George Landais,
who gleefully accepted the invitation to slot past a helpless Aaron Relf.
Kealy leaned back and subsequently lifted his attempt over the bar, as Reds continued to attack at will (which was a bit unfair, as Will was just watching behind the goal) until Captain Fantastic, Darren “ Buddy” Budd showed everyone how it should be done, by smashing home a rocket just inside the ‘keeper’s near post from a slight angle and starting about an inch inside the box.
Tennent teed one up from distance, in a central position but failed to test the man between the sticks while, up the other end, Danny decided to utilise his “money maker” to prevent the away team getting back into the contest.
Referee, Barrie Small, sensibly called for the first drinks break of a stiflingly-hot night, before we’d even reached the halfway point of the opening forty-five minutes.
Ollie then started a little competition on the side, which proved to be particularly popular with both sides, by not just missing the target but managing to find the roof of an unsuspecting neighbour’s outhouse in St Elmo Road.
Ten minutes after that bonus piece of entertainment, Jasper Pattenden headed home his fourth goal of pre-season; steering in another delivery from the aforementioned, Mr. Pearce.
Our number eleven then came tantalisingly close to finally getting his name on the scoresheet when Kealy, then he, couldn’t quite connect with an Alex Parsons ball in from the right.
Right on the half-time whistle though and the goal machine that had become Darren Budd made it four for the homesters, as he made room for a shot that curled into the top corner.
The second period got underway with Worthing changing their entire outfield line-up, thus giving Senior home starts for the first time to U18’s Sam Pigdeon, Fin Stevens and Josh Harding. Tom Chalaye and Ben Bradford were introduced later on, while Billy Barker returned to the fold and trialist, Jan Yildiz played at right-back.
There were chances at either end in the opening exchanges, with Lloyd Dawes being denied at close quarters and Relf redeeming himself by pouncing on the ball, after an ill-advised roll-out had put his back four under unnecessary pressure.
Doughty saw his attempt beaten out by the United goalie at his near post before his second try hit a hand and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. With Budd having been withdrawn at the break, it was new Captain, Dawes who, once again, powered home the spot-kick, sending the netminder the wrong way in the process.
The lively visitors then fired a warning shot marginally over the bar but, on the hour mark, a give-and-go between Dawes and Joe Clarke resulted in the green-booted number seven driving low into the bottom corner, for his second and his team’s fifth.
Persistence would eventually pay off for Mason Doughty but not without another blocked effort to his name a short time later.
Dawes defied the heat when he drifted in off the left-hand touchline and past his marker, although on this occasion, the bottom corner – opposite to the one he’d recently and successfully found – proved to be just a fraction elusive.
A lucky rebound almost lead to Lloydy setting up Doughty, only for a heavy touch to let the clean through youngster down. It would be his moment soon enough.
‘Bourne had one last significant go at goal and evaded the crossbar by a small margin, before, finally, the old adage of “if at first you don’t succeed….” finally rang true for Doughty when Dawes made his way down the left flank one last time and did remarkably well to keep the ball in play on the byline and there, waiting patiently, like a true fox in the box, was the flame-haired nine to lash home for his maiden Worthing strike.