Worthing got a taste of their own medicine at Cray, as The Wanderers answered a stoppage time goal with one of their own to take a point in a meeting of two play-off hopefuls.
- Taylor (30')
- OG (90')
- Aguiar (65')
- Ayoola (90')
Joel Colbran returned from suspension in place of the injured Danny Barker, in the only change to Tuesday’s team at Potters Bar Town. Although, Alex Parsons moved from right-back to striker as Marvin Armstrong reprised his regular role.
Reds were nearly gifted the lead after only two minutes when goalkeeper, Lewis Carey gave the ball straight to Parsons who, in turn, set-up Ricky Aguiar. The Cray custodian redeemed himself by saving the subsequent shot at the expense of a corner.
Sustained pressure from the hosts led to Geoffrey Onokwo heading wide at the far post from Brad Pritchard’s flag-kick before a sense of deja vu befell Carey, as his latest slip allowed Parsons to tee-up Aguiar a second time but, had his blushes spared by an offside call, as the net rippled.
A late intervention by Jay Leader prevented Lloyd Dawes taking full advantage of a loose ball while Ricky failed to test Carey via Reece Myles-Meekum’s pull back.
Pritchard had two bites at the cherry, when his first cross into the danger zone came back out to him, only for Joe Taylor to eventually blast over the bar from twenty yards, shortly after the former’s near post backheel went the wrong side of the upright.
Cray then showed their visitors how to play out from the back, even when under pressure.
The ball was worked up to Andre Coker, near the halfway line, then spread out to Jerome Federico on the right, whose delivery into the penalty area was met by the predatory Taylor, from close range.
A rare slip by Alfie Young almost let Pritchard in; until the Worthing centre-half recovered the situation with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle.
It looked like Wands had doubled their advantage five minutes before the break, when Rushworth turned into Dracula again and let Pritchards’s corner go straight through his hands. Bizarrely, the referee blew his whistle for a foul – presumably for a Cray player blowing in the goalie’s ear or someone sneezing behind the goal.
A positive start after the interval saw Meekums’ run through the middle finally ended when his heavily deflected effort went behind for a corner.
An attempt by Alfie was hooked wide at the back stick from six yards and only a brave block by Leader kept Colbran at bay, moments later.
Lloyd’s long-ranger dipped a fraction too late while the derriere of a Cray defender took the sting out of Starkey’s shot, into the hands of Carey.
Substitute, Ben Mundele was proving to be a problem down the Red’s right and he soon found Tom Carlse on the opposite flank, from where the left-back drilled across and past the far post.
It then fell to Worthing to utilise that side of the pitch, in an attacking sense, culminating in Joel Colbran’s centre being swept home by Aguiar, close in.
Dawes’ tried his luck with a free-kick around the same distance away to his earlier effort, only on this occasion, it went all the way for a goal-kick.
Replacement, Lee Lewis – on only eleven minutes into the contest for the injured Tom Phipps – had a near-identical effort that also missed the target; before Mundele cut in off the right wing but got right underneath his shot and it flew over the angle of crossbar and post.
A low, fizzing ball in by the lively Cray number eleven was met at speed by an incoming forward but too much, as it turned out, then decided to go for goal himself and, somehow, send Carlse’s cross back across the face of goal, with two minutes of normal time left.
Just when the game looked to be heading for a draw, Colbran’s centre was inexplicably dropped by Carey, allowing the recently introduced, Shola Ayoola to poach his first league goal for the club, at the second attempt, in the ninety-fourth minute.
More drama was to follow, however, when the referee awarded a hotly-disputed corner, in the ninety-sixth, which caught Reds napping and the “other” Lewis made an unchecked run into the penalty area to power home a header and send both sets of fans wild, though for vastly different reasons.
All the excitement proved too much for some, as Starkey earned himself a second yellow card for expressing his thoughts on the man in the middle’s performance, to the man himself.
A strange afternoon was rounded off afterwards by the ref reporting a Worthing fan encroaching onto the pitch, amid the celebrations of Shola’s strike and a ball boy pushing an unnamed away player in the chest, in the tunnel, after the match had finally ended.