A solitary goal from Sara Tubby was enough to secure Michelle Lawrence’s side a place in the second qualifying round, as Worthing continued their impressive start to the season in league and cup.
With news that Millwall had been withdrawn from the competition, Worthing made the short trip to Whyteleafe after they had been reinstated. Despite their underdog status, Worthing started the brighter of the two and went close on seven-minutes when Sophie Humphreys’ cross was parried straight to Gemma Worsfold but her shot went high and wide of the goal.
Following their positive start, the visitors almost gifted Whyteleafe the lead when a poor back-pass sent Suzanne Davies through on goal, however Amy Coster was quick off her line to avert the danger.
Beth Kincaid had another chance to give Worthing the lead on 20-minutes, as she stole possession midway through the Whyteleafe half, however her shot was straight into the arms of Leaf keeper Danielle Mitchelle from close range.
The away side continued to have the better chances as the half progressed, Sophie Humphrey going the closest on 28-minutes when her shot narrowly flew wide of Mitchell’s far post after another flowing breakaway.
Despite some good build up play in the first half, Whyteleafe struggled to break down a resilient Worthing backline and both sides went into the break with their clean sheets still intact.
Worthing thought they had taken the lead less than 60-seconds after the restart when Tammy Waine’s powerful header was cleared off the line to safety. Moments later Hannah Duncan had an excellent chance to put the home side ahead, however she could only head over unmarked from five-yards to the relief of the Worthing defence.
Despite a frustrating first half, the hosts continued to push and were only denied by a good save from Coster, who pushed away Morgan Parnell’s curling effort before gathering at the second attempt.
Humphrey then had a glorious opportunity to put her side ahead as she raced clear from a quick break, however her powerful drive flew agonisingly over the bar with only Mitchell to beat. That was to be Humphreys’ last involvement as she made way for Beth McKellar as Lawrence made a tactical switch.
The visitors finally made the breakthrough on 70-minutes when Kincaid latched on to a lofted pass from Waine and dinked an exquisite pass in to Tubby, who calmly headed over Mitchell to give her side a precious but slender advantage going into the final 20-minutes.
Whyteleafe responded well to going behind and only several key interventions from the outstanding Waine kept them at bay as they threw everything at the Worthing goal to find an equaliser.
Kincaid could have made the game safe on 80-minutes for the visitors when another Worthing break found Tubby, whose cross just evaded her teammate.
Worthing were forced further and further into their own half during the last 10-minutes and the home side almost benefitted from a poor clearance, fortunately Waine was there once again to clear the ball to safety.
That was the last action of a pulsating finale as Worthing secured the victory by the finest of margins to earn a second round [qualifying] tie against Wycombe Wanderers in a week’s time.
Speaking after the game, goal scorer Tubby was quick to praise her team mates effort and commitment. She said. “the work rate was high all game from everyone and we really dug deep towards the end. I couldn’t be happier with the result, credit to all the girls as we never lost hope and now we just have to keep pushing on”.
Manager, Lawrence was also keen to praise the effort of her team; “we knew it would be a difficult game [Whyteleafe play in the league above and we had various challenges to contend with before the match] but credit to the players – they showed great character. I’ve been critical of the team’s execution at times this season but today everything came together. Both individually and collectively, I couldn’t have asked for more!”