Two goals in a minute just shy of the hour mark turned this game back in Worthing’s favour, after Dayshonne Golding had cancelled out Connor Hunte’s first goal for the club.
- Golding (41')
- Hunte (22')
- Aguiar (58')
- Pattenden (60')
Joel Colbran failed a late fitness test so Jasper Pattenden started in his place, meaning Tom Chalaye was back amongst the substitutes, in the only changes from Saturday.
The visitors came into this game on the back of three successive defeats but made all the early running, starting with Ricky Aguiar finding Pattenden near the edge of the Lewes penalty area on the left and he drifted inside before laying the ball off to Hunte on the right. He worked the smallest amount of space, despite the close attentions of Tom Day, to fire a warning shot narrowly over the bar.
Pattenden found himself in a similar situation a short time later but this time led Alex Malins a merry dance; flashing a dangerous-looking cross into the six yard box that a diving Ollie Pearce couldn’t quite apply the decisive touch to.
That touch proved less elusive when the same player sent a low effort wide of the far post following a mix-up between Lewis Taylor and Stacey Freeman, as they appeared to leave it to each other when the ball ran loose, as Reece Myles-Meekums attempted to slalom his way through the Rooks backline.
The hosts finally got going with a left wing run by Golding, who lifted a delivery into Tony Halsey – on a few minutes earlier for the injured returnee, Gary Noel – but he failed to get a good enough contact and ended up slicing his shot across and past the back stick.
Worthing responded via good link-up play down the Lewes left, with Fin Stevens receiving his pass back from Pattenden and centering for Meekums to glance, rather than power a header the wrong side of the far upright.
New boy Hunte was at the heart of the next two main moves, by firstly firing a thirty yard free-kick not too far over the bar and then being the recipient of Pearce’s pass, after he’d taken down a long ball from Alfie Young, before beating Day on the right again and drilling a fine, low effort into Nathan Stroomberg’s nearside bottom corner, from the ‘D.’
Debut-making, Dimitri Hatzimouratis failed to halt the charge of Pattenden, who simply shrugged him off the ball and knocked it back for Aguiar to force a parry from Stroomberg, agonisingly just out of the reach of Pearce but, as Lewes struggled to clear the danger, Pattenden and then Stevens returned the hot potato to whence it came, until a striped shirt finally got rid of it.
Rook’s best chance, at the time, fell to their Captain, James Hammond as his free-kick a fraction outside the area required a scrambling save from Carl Rushworth at the expense of a corner. However, it then became Worthing’s turn to show a lack of cohesion in their defensive ranks, as that very set-piece led to Golding shaking off a piggybackingYoung to swivel and bury his shot in the opposing corner of the net, five minutes from the interval.
The threat of Golding was evident throughout and he could have had a second when he let fly from an identical position to Hammond, though Carl caught comfortably.
A header over his own crossbar by Freeman diverted Aarran Racine’s attempt at making it two for the Reds and Aguiar missed the near post by a matter of inches, as the home defence continued to look vulnerable.
Ricky’s burst from halfway ended in the box with cries for a penalty and Pearcey went airborne once more but again to no avail as he did his best to get on the end of Hunte’s byline cross, in the opening exchanges of the second period.
Only a late intervention by Racine stopped Hatzimouratis regaining the advantage, following Freeman’s high ball into the area and he came even closer when he located the side-netting on the end of another left flank delivery from Golding.
A touch off Stevens resulted in a flag-kick that reached Taylor, who curled inches over the top but it was the visitors who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and, seemingly, eased it away from their struggling neighbours.
Neither Taylor nor Freeman could stop Aguiar and Meekums combining to allow the former to drive home a neat flick from the latter that ran loose marginally inside the eighteen yard box.
Unfortunately, for the beleaguered Freeman, it was his mistake on the halfway line, when he misjudged a long clearance, which led to Pearce breaking clear on the right and pulling back from the byline for an unmarked Pattenden to, initially, be denied by Taylor but Malins couldn’t quite match his teammate and JP lashed the rebound high into the net from close range.
Sub, Billy Medlock pounced on a rare slip by Stevens but couldn’t beat Rushworth and Young took the sting out of Halsey’s effort as the Rooks refused to give up the fight.
Counter-attacking football almost saw white-shirted Red’s add the cherry on top with Pearce knocking a long Pattenden pass out defence back into the path of an onrushing Aguiar, who couldn’t keep his shot down. Danny Barker suffering the same problem shortly afterwards, in response to Golding’s weak prod.
Hammond’s corner was met by the head of the incoming Day, which Rushworth got behind and held before the custodian was out smartly to thwart Halsey. Young blocked Aaron Cosgrave’s follow-up and Day’s acrobatic scissor-kick ended in the grateful glovesman’s hands but Worthing saw out the final few minutes, without any further scares, to complete a second Sussex double of the season and regain their five point lead at the top of the table.