Worthing Women ensured they finished the day at the top of the league standings as they narrowly overcame a dogged and determined Herne Bay side at a windswept Woodside Road on Sunday.
Quickfire goals from Gemma Worsfold and Lucy Somes secured a hard-fought victory for Michelle Lawrence’s side, who have won all of their seven league fixtures this season.
The game was full of attacking intent from the outset, and it was the home side who fashioned the first opening on 6-minutes. Following a quick break from a Herne Bay attack, Sam Mee saw her curling effort from the edge of the box flash narrowly wide of the visitor’s goal.
The away side were then forced into an early change when full back Saraya Phillips suffered a serious hamstring injury after losing her footing, requiring assistance from her medical team to leave the pitch. After reshuffling their defensive shape, Herne Bay were almost caught off guard when Rebecca Thompson-Agbro found space in the box from a corner, only to see her strike heroically blocked on the line.
The visitor’s had their first real chance on 15-minutes, when a poor clearance from Amy Coster fell kindly for Jemma Barton, whose first time effort flew well wide to the relief of Worthing’s number one. Not content with her sides start, Lawrence introduced Lucy Somes for Kincaid on 25-minutes, a decision that would eventually prove crucial.
Herne Bay then had stand in keeper Ellie Turner to thank for preserving parity, when she brilliantly denied Sara Tubby from close range with her legs a minute later, however her heroics were short lived. Following a turnover in possession in the Herne Bay penalty area, Worsfold lost her marker and opened the scoring on 31-minutes when her angled effort was fumbled by Turner into the back of the net.
Worthing quickly made it two on 34-minutes, when Tubby’s smart cutback was precisely driven into the bottom corner from Somes to give the hosts breathing space before the break. With the harsh conditions providing a difficult test, Worthing focused on maintaining their advantage for the remainder of the half, calmly controlling possession without over playing.
After going in at half-time with their clean sheet still intact, Worthing should have made it three within five-minutes of the restart when Somes crossed perfectly for Tubby, however her side footed effort was tame and straight at Turner.
Herne Bay came out with the same intensity they showed in the first half, and they almost halved the deficit on 53-minutes. After being sent through on goal, forward Abbie Potter opted to square to her teammate rather than take the shot, allowing the Worthing rearguard to clear the danger in the nick of time.
With the home side coming under increasing pressure, Lawrence reintroduced Kincaid for Hannah Hewlett on 58-minutes, with Sophie Humphrey also deputising for Brooke Marshall as Worthing looked to regain control of proceedings. Chloe Wooloway then tried her luck from range for the visitors on 65-minutes, forcing Coster into a smart sprawling stop, with no one able to capitalise from the resulting corner.
With time slowly running out for Herne Bay, Lawrence then introduced Sara Hinton for Tubby, with Marshall also re-entering the fray for Beth Mckellar to provide more defensive cover. With the home side seemingly content to defend their lead, Herne Bay began to throw caution to the wind, allowing Worthing more opportunities to counter-attack.
Somes then showed great skill to beat three Herne Bay defenders, however she uncharacteristically fired her effort well wide on 88-minutes. Coster had been in inspired form for Worthing all afternoon and showed her qualities once again in injury time, producing a brilliant reflex stop from Katie Foster’s header.
That was the final action of a tight and evenly contested affair at Woodside Road, as Worthing dug deep to record another win at home and ensure that their perfect league start continued.
After the game, goalscorer Gemma Worsfold was keen to highlight the importance of producing positive results in difficult circumstances. She said “The conditions were difficult today which made it hard for us to control the game in the way we would have liked to. We’re having a good run but we need to keep working hard, the result was all that mattered today!”
Manager Michelle Lawrence was also pleased to see her side grind out a positive result despite not playing with the same intensity as in previous games. She said “I am obviously happy to have secured the three points but we made hard work of it. The girls had to dig deep during the second half and I am proud of the resilience they showed. We can’t always play free flowing football. Today the girls showed great character and to learn after the game that other results had gone our way makes the win even more pleasing”.
With Lewes suffering defeat at Phoenix Sports, this result saw Worthing leapfrog their title rivals into first place. Their next game sees them welcome Phoenix Sports to Woodside Road on Sunday 15th December, 3pm kick-off.