Worthing Women made it 10 league wins in a row on Sunday, as they battled to a narrow 3-2 victory against a strong Crawley Wasps side at a bitter and sun soaked Ewhurst Playing Fields.
A double from Gemma Worsfold and Rebecca Barron’s first goal for the club ensured The Reds maintained their 100% league record against a Wasps side boasting some talented attacking players.
The away side had the first clear chance after less than five-minutes, when Barron saw her close-range attempt blocked after Wasps keeper Heidi Horsford had fumbled a routine cross straight to the feet of the Worthing midfielder.
After an even opening 15-minutes, the hosts were given a fantastic opportunity to open to scoring from the penalty spot on 17-minutes, when Worsfold inexplicably blocked a cross with her outstretched arm as she looked to provide defensive cover.
After taking responsibility, forward Danielle Boyd confidently dispatched her spot kick low to Amy Coster’s left to give her side the lead, however that lead was to be short lived for the hosts. After suffering that early setback, Worthing began to push higher into the Wasps final third, and they found an equaliser on 27-minutes. After winning back possession from a loose pass in midfield, Barron unleashed a first time effort which looped beyond a deceived Horsford and into the roof of the net with the Wasps keeper seemingly blinded by the powerful sunlight.
The remainder of a tightly contested first half saw little in the way of clear cut chances, as both sides struggled to maintain long spells of possession on a difficult surface. Captain Hannah Hewlett had Worthing’s best chance to take the lead on 36-minutes when her curling effort from the edge of the box was well held by Horsford.
With half-time imminent, Worthing took the lead thanks to a fantastic effort from Worsfold. After seeing her initial cross well defended, the Worthing midfielder collected the ball on the corner of the Wasps box and unleashed a powerful dipping effort that sailed over Horsford and into the back of the net.
After taking a narrow lead into the break, manager Michelle Lawrence introduced Molly Clark in place of Sophie Frost to give Worthing added firepower upfront as they looked to see off their battling opponents.
Sophie Humphrey was providing a tireless option out wide for the reds, and she was unfortunate to see her curling effort from range fly narrowly wide on 51-minutes, before Worsfold saw her audacious free kick well saved on 57-minutes.
After failing to make the most of those openings, Worthing were punished for some more slack defending on 63-minutes. Following what looked like a simple long clearance, a breakdown in communication at the back allowed Rosanne Fine to power a half volley into the net to bring her side level and set up a tense final 25-minutes.
With the score locked at 2-2, and Crawley looking to frustrate the league leaders in the closing stages, Beth McKellar was introduced into the back-line and Tammy Waine pushed up top as the visitor’s went in search of a winning goal.
Barely a minute after that change, Worthing found a vital third goal to retake the lead once again. After collecting the ball on the edge of the hosts box, Worsfold’s speculative effort crashed into the roof of the net via a touch from Horsford to the relief of the Reds bench, this time their lead would not be taken away.
With their lead restored, the visitors had further chances to make the game safe in the closing stages. Clark saw her brilliant acrobatic effort drop narrowly over the bar on 76-minutes, before Worsfold was denied her hat trick five-minutes from time when her powerful headed effort was contentiously ruled out for offside by the linesman. Crawley had one last chance to snatch a point two-minutes from time, and only a fantastic reflex stop from Coster denied Nicholle Smith’s piledriver after the Worthing keeper had parried a cross back into the danger zone.
Despite a nervous end to the game, Worthing were able to see out the remainder of stoppage time to come away with a hard earned victory to move eight-points clear of Lewes in second place.
Speaking after the game, goalscorer Rebecca Barron was delighted to finally get on the scoresheet for her new side, she said “I was relieved to see it go in and hopefully I will start putting some more away now. The performance was below the standard we set for ourselves, but it’s good to come away with the points and keep the winning momentum going. Settling in at Worthing has been really easy, everyone has been really welcoming and I look forward to training sessions and games each week, which hasn’t always been the case in previous seasons.
Manager Michelle Lawrence was also happy to pick up another three points despite her sides stagnated performance. She said, “Although it’s another positive step towards our goal, I felt that we lacked our usually fluidity for long periods of the game and made it hard for ourselves at times. Credit to Crawley, who were clinical when it mattered and caused us problems. It was pleasing to see the team react to the setbacks in the way that they did, and leaving with another victory was the most important thing. We’ll need to up our game against Hassocks next weekend if we want to keep our winning run going.”