After Saturday’s late, late show it was three in, three out as Jasper Pattenden, Ollie Pearce and Marvin Armstrong made way for Danny Barker, Kieron Pamment and Lloyd Dawes.
It was the recalled duo of Dawes and Pamment who combined early on to create the first chance of the evening, when a delightful touch by the former released the latter into the penalty area where he was denied at close quarters by goalkeeper, Fred Burbidge.
Pamment himself had a shot blocked a few minutes later, following a cheeky backheel by Ricky Aguiar, before a lovely pirouet and goalbound effort by Dawes, from the right-hand corner of the box, missed the far post by a matter of inches; following a good build-up that started with Fin Stevens switching play from left to right, then Aguiar and Joel Colbran combining to good effect, allowing twinkle toes to perform his best Nureyev to almost devastating effect.
Stortford’s main outlet was Aaron Greene, on the left, who proved to be a constant thorn in the visitors’ side on his 150th appearance and it was one of these forays that forced Carl Rushworth to avert the danger with an outstretched leg.
A marauding run through the middle by Aguiar wasn’t matched by the finish before Greene threatened again, only to flash the ball across the face of goal, as he reached the byline.
The Blues were on top at this point and continued their assault on the Worthing goal when some neat approach play on the right led to Brad McClenaghan slipping in Jack Thomas and Rushworth pulling off an outstanding save, as he dived to his right to parry.
Greene seemed to be too quick at times for his teammates as another burst down the left ended with a low, driven cross flying across the area with no one able to get a touch.
The leaders weathered that particular storm and replied with a good chance of their own, when Pamment’s attempt was beaten out by Burbidge, straight to Reece Myles-Meekums but the number seven had no chance to adjust as the ball hit him before he could do anything about it.
A couple of half-chances fell to Meekums and Aguiar as we approached the interval, though a comfortable near post catch from Burbidge and a whistle past the back stick meant that the equilibrium remained.
Pace and incisive passing opened up space for Ross Debrick to sting the palms of Rushworth shortly afterwards but it was the away team who edged themselves in front, after a Jesse Starkey corner on the right had been cleared as far as Aguiar on the edge of the box and he drove low and hard through a sea of legs to put Worthing in front in first-half stoppage time.
The rapidity of Greene didn’t let up after the break, as he tore down the left wing and his byline pullback was side-footed the wrong side of the far upright by McClenaghan; who then dragged an equally good opportunity wide of the target after being played clean through the middle.
A vital late interception by Aarran Racine denied McClenaghan a third go at grabbing the equaliser with Greene, yet again, the provider.
Pamment’s pace on the counter-attack saw him supply the recently introduced Marvin Armstrong but he couldn’t keep his attempt under the crossbar; before a nod down to first sub, Ollie Pearce was met with a turn and powerful effort that screamed narrowly past the back stick.
With the clock slowly ticking towards the end of an absorbing contest, Pearce proceeded to create a chance all on his own. However, despite doing the hard work of beating two defenders on the right and breaking into the box, he chose to shoot and pull his attempt across the area and out for a goal-kick, when others were better placed.
There was still long enough left though for Greene to get away on the left one last time, only for his low centre to be cleared by a posse of red shirts.
That might have been the last real goalscoring opportunity of the game but there was still a twist in the tail, when Starkey saw red for a second bookable offence three minutes from the end but his teammates survived the last knockings and the additional five for stoppages, to regain their five point advantage over the chasing pack.