A brief chorus of “We love you Bognor” broke out on the terraces, as Worthing’s win at Brightlingsea was matched by two late goals from our local rivals to send Folkestone crashing to defeat at Nyewood Lane.
Adam only made one change to the team that hammered Merstham last week; with Danny Barker coming back in for Aarran Racine. Whilst on the bench, Kieron Pamment went straight into the matchday squad as he returns to Woodside Road for a third spell.
Both sides were slow to get into any kind of rhythm and nearly a quarter of an hour had elapsed before the first noteworthy chance of the afternoon. Ricky Aguiar saw his short corner returned to him by Alex Parsons and promptly delivered the ball into the box, where Regent ‘keeper, Charlie Turner kept out Ollie Pearce and Reece Myles-Meekiums couldn’t capitalize on the rebound; heading over the crossbar. Although the offside flag saved his blushes anyhow.
Aguiar had a go himself a couple of minutes later, after good link-up play down the left presented him with the opportunity, only for his shot to be charged down by a Brightlingsea backside on the edge of the penalty area.
The hosts responded through Romario Dunne’s centre picking out George Bugg and he fired narrowly over the target, before normal service was resumed and Aguiar’s thirty yard free-kick went close but produced no cigar.
Both sides made early changes; unfortunately for Brightlingsea it was due to their Captain, George Cripps coming off worse in a 50-50 challenge with Joel Colbran and suffering what later turned out to be a broken leg. We, of course, wish him a speedy recovery.
For the visitors it came down to tactics, as Pamment entered the fray at the expense of Jasper Pattenden and the ‘new’ signing didn’t take long to make an impact; locating Parsons in acres of space near the ‘D’ and the Skipper advancing, then driving an effort through the legs of Turner.
Pearce had two attempts at extending the lead but fizzed one past the post and then wasn’t able to get quite enough purchase on the ball at the end of a swivel and swipe, as the Sussex’s went in search of a second goal.
The struggling Stripes gave their guests that insurance in first-half stoppage time, when Pearce’s run down the left-hand side of the area led to a trio of home defenders converging on him and one of a sea of legs tripped our number sixteen. Ollie got up and Turner went right but Pearcey went left.
A lung-busting run by Meekums almost made it three, only for the boot of Jake Gould to stop his cross going into the danger zone, after Reece had started in his own half.
Jake Clowsley got things underway after the turnaround with a delightfully flicked pass through to Bugg but Carl Rushworth was out quickly to snuff out the chance at the expense of a corner.
A break over halfway by Aguiar led to a short ball to his left to Pearce, followed by a nudge to the opposite side by Ollie, where Meekums managed to miss the far upright, before Bugg was played in again, this time by Jake Turner who, in the end, got crowded out by an army of white shirts.
A rare save by an underemployed Rushworth saw him push Dunne’s free-kick, one-handed, over the top but it was the visitors who extended their advantage, after Aguair, from the centre circle, had slipped in Meekums who rode a tackle and, finally custodian, Charlie Turner conceded a corner. From the set-piece, Pearce rose highest to power home a header and seemingly put the game out of Regent’s reach.
However, Colbran had to be alert to divert the ball away from Gould to prevent the defender – and Brightlingsea’s record appearance holder – profiting at the back stick, minutes later.
Reds then showed great pace on the counter-attack, as Aguiar just managed to get a toe to the ball and send Pamment racing clear through the middle. While the returnee should have done better with his final shot, it took a hoofed clearance and another flag-kick to put an end to that particular move thanks to substitute, Marley Marshall-Miranda blasting an attempt over the target and, very nearly, the roof of a neighbouring property. You could virtually hear the collective sigh of relief from the residents of Oaklands Care Home, as they were next in the firing line.
A burst down the left by Jesse Starkey ended with Pearce’s hooked attempt finding the goalie’s gloves, while it was the protected hands of Rushworth that were required to turn away Clowsley’s cross; as it looked to be sneaking inside his right-hand post.
Carl repeated that trick when replacement, Finn O’Reilly tried an identical attempt shortly after but was almost beaten by Jordan Barnett’s deep left flank delivery, which nearly went all the way in and O’Reilly sent back into the six yard box, where Bugg nodded a good opportunity wide.
More pace on the break saw the recently introduced, Callum Kealy supply Pamment who proceeded to cut inside fellow early sub, Morisi Gelashvili but curl an effort over the far angle of the net.
One last chance fell to the Essex-based homesters, as an already booked Starkey escaped with merely conceding a free-kick, twenty yards or so out, that Jake Turner fired straight into the wall in front of him.
Leaving Worthing to not only celebrate three more points but also, begrudgingly, cheer Brad Lethbridge’s last minute strike against Folkestone, that saw Reds move five clear of Invicta at the top of the Premier Division table.