Isthmian Premier Division Sat 8 February The Crucial Environmental Stadium
  • Meekums (24')
Cray Wanderers
  • Taylor (69')
  • Rollinson (90')

Alex Parsons returned to the team at the expense of Lloyd Dawes, who took Tom Chalaye’s place on the bench as he was away with Sussex on FA County Youth Cup duty in Devon.

An early sighter from Ricky Aguiar, after a Reece Myles-Meekums corner was worked back to him on the edge of the box took a touch to go behind for another flag-kick, that came to nothing.

Tremendous tenacity from Parsons saw him win the ball back off Tom Carlse before teeing up Meekums for a shot of his own but Lewis Carey, in the visitor’s goal, stood up well to the threat to keep it 0-0.

Cray responded through former Premier League player, Bradley Pritchard who slipped in the Premier Division’s top scorer, Joe Taylor on the right; only for his effort to zip across the penalty area and out the other side.

Stevenage loanee, Joel Rollinson ran onto Rhys Murrell-Willimson’s flick-on and went on a charge down the middle, whereupon reaching the eighteen-yard box, a recovering half-block by Aarran Racine was enough to take any sting out of his goalbound attempt and guide it safely in- to the hands of Carl Rushworth.

Fin Stevens was narrowly off target, as he took ownership of a deep diagonal crossfield pass by Alfie Young, before a piece of Meekums magic put the home side ahead.

Reece, on the right, showed some nifty footwork to bamboozle Pritchard and Carlse and burst into the box, then fire a left-footed effort across the ‘keeper; who got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.

The toe of Carlse denied Meeky a second soon after, once Pamment had played him in, while a free-kick from wide on the right bounced through a crowded area and off the inside of the far post, straight into the grateful arms of Rushworth.

A Danny Barker header went behind for a second successive corner and Rollinson curled over the angle of bar and post, despite what looked like a clear handball byPritchard in the build-up.
On last chance fell to Worthing, with half-time almost upon us, when debutant substitute, Ehizojie Onoabhagbe tried and failed to head a Rushworth goal-kick back in the direction from whence it came, allowing Parsons to pick up possession, advance into the box and backheel to Meekums, who laid the ball to his left for an onrushing Aguiar to drive at the target but Carey was equal to his shot, at the expense of a corner.

The second period took a while to get going but then a flurry of opportunities presented themselves, starting with Rushworth getting down well to not only save but also hold on to an attempt by Murrell-Williamson.

Wanderers continued to search for the all-important leveller and Carl needed to be alert to the danger to block and deflect a try from Taylor over the top, after Pritchard had slipped him in.

Reds’ retaliated via a right wing run from Aguiar, resulting in a pullback to a centrally-placed Jesse Starkey side-footing an effort that Carey patted down, before punching away an eventual corner, one-handed. Racine headed back into the danger zone and sub, Ollie Pearce prodded onto the post before, finally, turning and chipping a recycled delivery into the middle, where Captain, Barney Williams was a nano-second ahead of Meekums, to concede yet another flag-kick.

A huge clearance by Carey then caught out Racine and gave Taylor a clean run at goal. The big centre-forward, so often a scourge of Worthing in the past, for a variety of clubs, accepted the invitation as he rounded Rushworth and slotted into an empty net.

Murrell-Williamson appeared to be auditioning for the next series of Strictly as he led the Reds backline a merry dance before eventually getting a shot off and earning himself a ‘6’ from the judges.

Two crosses with marginally differing outcomes by Starkey saw Carey keep out a turn and shot by Aguiar before a diving header from Pearce went over the bar; with the Cray custodian pulling off an even better stop to prevent Jesse’s free-kick finding the top corner, a short time later.

Neat approach play ended with a not so neat finish from Karl Dent, twenty-five yards out, as the game looked to be petering out to a draw.

That was until a loose pass by Starkey led to a two-footed attempt at winning the ball back off Williams, earning him a second successive red card and lengthy ban.

The drama wasn’t over there though, with a quickly taken throw-in by Taylor, right in front of the home dugout, releasing the rapid Rollinson, who galloped down the flank and broke into the box, where, despite the close attentions of Barker and Young, he applied a calm and composed strike just inside the back stick.