Another day, another dramatic ending ! For the third time in a week, Worthing needed a late goal from one of their substitutes to take something from a game they looked like losing.
- Pearce (3')
- Myles-Meekums (44', 51')
- Dawes (69')
- Doughty (87')
- Gregory (18')
- Heston-Cook (25')
- Wood (62', 64')
- Olutade (66')
After Tuesday night’s heroics, Joe Tennent, Mason Doughty, Shola Ayoola and Ollie Long were back on the bench, with Marvin Armstrong, Ross Edwards, Ricky Aguiar and Ollie Pearce all restored to the starting line-up.
Following on from the energy-sapping exertions of mid-week FA Cup replays, not many people would have expected a fast start by either side but that was exactly what happened, as the hosts got their noses in front just three minutes in.
A long crossfield pass from Aguiar saw Lloyd Dawes and Callum Driver chase the ball into the corner, which the former won and beat his marker on the byline, before lifting a delivery into the box, that was met by the perfectly timed run of the in-form Pearce.
The lead was almost wiped out shortly afterwards though, as a rare mistake by Roco Rees resulted in him gifting possession to Charlie Hester-Cook who, in turn, allowed Izunna Ikebuasi to drill low into the box, only for Tommy Wood to miskick and the chance was gone.
However, Leatherhead didn’t have long to wait until they did find themselves back on level terms – another ten minutes to be precise – as a long throw on the left flicked off two heads in the penalty area, with Misha Djmaili outmuscling Jesse Starkey as they both went in pursuit of the loose ball and his byline centre was tapped in by an unmarked, Travis Gregory.
Having just past the midway point of the first-half, Red’s defensive demons resurfaced when overplaying at the back resulted in Starkey’s attempted clearance hitting Ikebuasi and he promptly broke forward and pulled back for Hester-Cook to sweep home.
Things so nearly got even worse around the half-hour mark, when a Tanners’ corner on the right ended with Pearce and Eddie Louis-D’Sane going to ground in a tangle and the referee pointing to the spot. Presumably, for a trip. Any controversy was soon forgotten though when Rees dived low to his right to keep out D’Sane’s penalty.
Hester-Cook thought Christmas had come early, when Aguiar’s attempts at bringing the ball out from the back only succeeded in him presenting his fellow midfielder with a shooting opportunity that, fortunately, deflected behind.
Ricky then helped force a goal, at the right end, after he had two attempts blocked by green shirts in the box and time seemed to stand still before Reece Myles-Meekums reacted quickest to poke home the equalizer.
There was still time for Simon Mensah to set some alarm bells ringing but his edge-of-the-box effort went behind for a corner, that also came to nothing.
An early sighter became more of a backpass by Tommy Wood, that Roco dealt with comfortably, shortly after the turnaround but the next goal wasn’t long in arriving.
Pearce released Armstrong down the right and his ball into the box was dummied by Dawes, only for Zaki Oualah to deny Aguiar but not Meekums, who gleefully slotted in to regain the advantage for the men in red.
Now on a hat-trick, the winger burst between Djmaili and Ikebuasi after latching onto a long ball, twisted and turned but, ultimately, fired wide of the target.
A Starkey cross eventually dropped to substitute, Shola, whose effort was blocked and Dawes could only find the tarmac of Woodside Road, following up.
The scoreboard then took a real hammering, with four goals suddenly coming in the next six minutes, just past the hour.
Starting off with Leatherhead levelling once more, when Armstrong’s touchline trip on Ikebuasi led to Wood rising highest to head home sub Skinner’s subsequent right-sided free-kick.
A near identical move brought a fourth for the Greens as Marvin could only head Jack Skinner’s long throw back out to him and his second attempt found it’s mark, with Wood getting his temple to the ball again to power home.
Barely sixty seconds had elapsed when the returning Ibrahim Olutade climbed off the bench to run onto a long ball, cut inside a bamboozled Barker and finish confidently across Rees and into the far side of the net.
Worthing were handed a lifeline not long after that, literally, as Captain, Will Salmon’s indiscretion saw him penalised for handball and Dawes sent Oualah the wrong way from the spot.
Tanners’ number one then stood up to produce a brilliant save to keep out Pearce after Dawes had robbed Ikebuasi, with a quarter of the contest remaining.
Gregory drove to and along the byline but found Rees waiting at the near post then Pearce, Ayoola and Pearce again all had chances to salvage a point, although none could find the back of the net.
Finally, on eighty-six minutes and hardly on the pitch a minute, Mason Doughty side-footed the tenth goal of yet another extraordinary afternoon for The Reds, after Barker’s effort from Oualah’s punched clearance fell kindly for the flame-haired youngster.
A late flurry of near misses came via Wood, in search of a match-clinching treble, seizing on Armstrong’s generosity but dragging his shot the wrong side of the post; Doughty, looking to double his tally, doing a similar thing and lastly, Pearce being kept out by Oualah at the front stick, after winning a physical battle with Djmaili.