An early goal from Shola Ayoola set Worthing on their way to a Sussex Senior Cup victory that wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline suggests.
- Cooper (54')
- Saunders (74')
- Ayoola (11')
- Doughty (22')
- Kealy (67', 83')
- Pearce (82')
Manager, Adam Hinshelwood freshened things up for the cup by giving starting berths to all five of Saturday’s subs – Edwards, Kealy, Doughty, Ayoola and Stevens – with Tutt, Armstrong, Dawes and Aguiar joined on the bench by the welcome sight of Ollie Pearce.
In a first half dominated by the Reds, it only took two minutes for a switch of play by Jesse Starkey from left to right to Reece Myles-Meekums; whose ball into the box wasn’t met as cleanly as he would have liked by Mason Doughty and Luke Glover was able to make the save.
The Heath ‘keeper then denied Starkey himself when his free-kick appeared destined for the top corner, after Meekums had been fouled just outside the area and also pounced on Reece’s recycled cross; despite Ben Pashley’s best efforts to wrest the ball from his grasp.
A mere eleven minutes were on the clock when Worthing broke the deadlock.
Joel Colbran started in his own half and played a neat one-two down the right wing with Meekums. He passed inside towards Fin Stevens who did well to win the ball back and force Glover to spill his low drive, which deflected off Henry Watson into the path of Shola Ayoola – a fraction ahead of Josh Spinks – and he scored via the inside of the right-hand post.
Watson was more culpable at the midway mark of the opening forty-five, when his attempted pass down the line to Hamish Morrison got intercepted by Starkey and laid off to Doughty in the penalty area. The midfielder then curled a beauty across and away from the clutches of Glover to double the visitor’s advantage.
Twisting and turning by Meekums set-up a chance for Kealy not long after but the striker’s shot failed to test Glover.
A rare foray forward by the hosts led to some neat build up on the edge of the box, although Watson won’t want to be reminded about his subsequent finish into the fir trees behind the goal.
More bamboozling by Meekums preceded a one-two with Doughty and an attempt wide of the target, after he’d initially done well to create the room in a crowded box.
Doughty almost doubled his tally when he found himself one-on-one with Glover, only for his prod past the netminder to lack the legs to make it and Heath were able to clear the danger
First-half stoppage time saw last year’s semi-finalists come mighty close to getting themselves back in the game, thanks to Ryan Warwick releasing Morrison on the right. His pace took him to the byline where he beat his pursuer, Starkey, then cut inside Pashley, before Callum Saunders hit the crossbar, causing Colbran to hack partially clear. Trevor McCreadie headed the ball back into the mixer and Meekums, then Doughty completed the clearance.
The Blues went one better in the early stages of the second period, as Nathan Cooper rose highest to meet Saunders’s flag-kick form the right to make it 2-1.
A swift counter-attack started by Spinks found Saunders sprinting through the middle and his ball out to Morrison on the right brought a sigh of relief to the Red’s ranks, when his delivery didn’t find anyone in the area waiting to meet it.
Two goals in the space of a few minutes then kept the contest in the balance, as former Rebel, Watson slid/slipped in on Kealy and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Glover dived left and Callum fired right as the away team regained the initiative.
Rushworth’s rushed pass to Pashley led to the defender trying to get the ball onto his favoured left foot, only for Saunders to nick it off him and dink it over Carl, despite appearing to foul Ben in the process.
Blue’s equivalent to Adebayo Akinfenwa and crowd favourite, Mel Simpson looked to all the world that he was going to plant his header from Kieran Rowe’ cross home for 3-3, only for the recently introduced “beast” to place it the wrong side of the upright.
Ten minutes from time, a weaving run by Colbran saw him slip a delightful pass through for Ayoola, who was denied by Glover, with the rebound shifted across his semi-prone torso and stroked into the opposite bottom corner by another substitute, Ollie Pearce.
The returning striker had a helping hand in our fifth soon after, as he took Starkey’s pass towards the byline before centering it for Watson to, inadvertently, head straight down to Kealy, who swiftly dispatched the ball into the same part of the net.
Heath’s number five nearly made up for that unfortunate error when his contorted, diving header from Warwick’s flag-kick was blocked in the area
Into time added on, a deep right flank delivery from Cooper landed perfectly on the dome of Captain, Byron Napper but gave Rushworth no trouble and a safe catch, before the Skipper tried to bend one around the Brighton loanee himself, about twenty yards out, only to find the goalie’s gloves, again.