Worthing Women moved another step closer to promotion on Sunday, as they battled to a vital victory over lowly Eastbourne United at The Oval.
Goals from Sophie Humphrey, Rebecca Thompson-Agbro, Rebecca Barron and Sophie Frost ensured that The Reds came away with another vital three points in testing conditions to make it 13 straight league wins in a row.
Despite the blustery conditions, the visitors began brightly in the swirling winds and could have opened the scoring early on when Sophie Humphrey’s cross narrowly evaded the onrushing Sam Mee, before Tammy Waine saw her long range effort fly high and wide on 15-minutes.
Captain Hannah Hewlett also had a chance to break the deadlock in the opening stages when she found space inside the box, however her close range effort was well blocked by the Eastbourne rearguard. Mee then had a glorious chance to open the scoring when she powered her way through the Eastbourne defence, however she could only fire straight at the home keeper Leanne Hawkins with the goal gaping.
Barely five-minutes later, the visitors finally found the opener that their efforts had warranted. After some great build up play through the lines, Humphrey kept her composure and calmly slid the ball past Hawkins and into the back of the net from the edge of the box, with the retreating Eastbourne defence unable to clear the ball off the line.
With her side now in front, manager Michelle Lawrence introduced Chloe Lelliott for Brooke Marshall as she looked to rotate her options on a difficult playing surface.
Worthing continued to press after finding the opener and had chances to extend their lead before half time. Waine was the first to be denied when her header from a Mee delivery was well saved on the line, with no one able to force in the rebound. Humphrey also had another good opening, however her cross come shot was deflected to safety.
The Red’s second goal came moments before the half time whistle, when Thompson-Agbro rose highest to power home a smart header into the corner as she scored the second match in succession to give her side breathing space at half time.
Lawrence made a further change prior to the start of the second half, with LouLou Robson replacing Maeve O’hannarachian for her debut as the Worthing manager once again changed her formation.
Hewlett had a fantastic chance to make it 3-0 barley five-minutes after the restart, however her side footed effort from close range clipped the top of the crossbar when it seemed easier to score. Worsfold was also denied from close range-minutes later as the Eastbourne defence struggled to deal with the swirling winds.
Humphrey had proved to be a nuisance for the Eastbourne defence all afternoon, and she almost capitalised on poor defending once again, however her low drive from just inside the box flew wide of the near post with 20-minutes remaining.
Worthing capped off another battling display with two quickfire goals in stoppage time to add some gloss to the scoreline. After finding space on the edge of the box, Barron unleashed a brilliant curling effort which crashed into the net via the post to make it 3-0. Frost also got into the act when she was on hand to hammer the ball into the net from close range a-minute later following another neat passage of play.
That was the final action of another eventful afternoon‘s work for The Reds, as they maintained their 100% league record and maintained their lead at the top of the table.
Speaking after the match, Manager Michelle Lawrence was pleased with the result but recognised that the performance could have been better; “Eastbourne were resolute in their defending and will be disappointed to have conceded the two late goals but it was more than our performance deserved. They set up to concede as few goals as possible so we had to be patient and grind out the result. We have had a number of impressive performances this season but today we had to win ugly and I am okay with that!”
With Lewes unable to move up a division, one more win will secure at least a second-place finish for Worthing, and with it, the lucrative prize of promotion.