Isthmian Premier Division Sat 22 February King George’s Field

The K’s suffered a red card very early on, but the Mackerel Men couldn’t make the man advantage count against a very well-drilled Kingstonian side.

Kingstonian, who have the joint second-best home record in the division, had the better chances of the game in the first half. The game was a scrappy affair full of cynical fouls and hot tempers, which left both sides feeling they could’ve walked away with all three points. As it happened both walked away with one, extending Worthing’s lead at the top of the table to six points, courtesy of Folkestone’s 1-0 loss to Wingate & Finchley.

The hosts had a huge early chance to open the scoring after some pinball in the Worthing box. The ball rebounded between attack and defence three or four times, before striking the inside of the post and curling across the face of goal. Kingstonian thought they had taken the lead, but the linesman did not share that view and decided that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

Worthing had a good chance of their own minutes later, through high-scoring midfielder Ricky Aguiar. Jasper Pattenden showed some great skill down the wing to beat his man and slip in Aguiar inside the box, who drove a low shot towards the near post, but keeper Rob Tolfrey was equal to the effort.

Just 20 minutes in, Kingstonian found themselves with a mountain to climb against the league leaders. Danny Barker lofted a ball over the top for Ollie Pearce, who latched onto the ball but was brought down just outside the box by Harry Osborne. The referee had no hesitation in making an important early call, and showed Osborne the red card.

Tempers really began to flare after the sending off. Heavy challenges started to fly in from all sides, with the game’s intenstity ramping up.

The hosts had a golden opportunity to open the scoring, one which striker Andre Coker will be keen to forget. Eddie Dsane won the ball deep into the Worthing half and launched a 2-on-1 attack, sliding the ball across to Coker inside the box. Coker had a simple finish ahead of him, but scuffed his attempt from 6 yards out.

The K’s had another gilt-edged chance to score right on the stroke of half time, this time from the penalty spot after Pattenden’s clumsy challenge on Dsane. Fabio Saraiva put the spot kick to his right, but Rushworth stayed big and made a crucial stop for the Mackerel Men.

The half ended goalless, with both sides left wondering how they weren’t able to break the deadlock. Kingstonian had the best of the chances in a half of flaring tempers and swirling winds, but the visitors were dominating the play.

The chances began to dry up in the second period, with the game beginning to degenerate. The referee was the busiest man on the pitch, handing out bookings with foul after foul flying in. Neither side was content with the decision making, and tempers really began to flare.

Worthing had a chance on the hour mark, coming close through Aguiar. The young midfielder chanced an effort from 25 yards which dipped at the last moment and almost crept underneath the keeper.

Barker found another chance with 10 minutes to go as the game began to open up. Aguiar floated in a corner to the back post and Barker jumped the highest, directing his header into the ground, but Tolfrey made a smart stop with his feet.

The second half ended with far fewer chances than the first, with neither side able to break the deadlock. The Mackerel Men dominated proceedings in the second half as 10-man Kingstonian began to tire, but the final piece of the puzzle just wasn’t there.