Worthing Women sealed promotion in style as they cruised to victory against a spirited Newhaven side to clinch a place in the top two with games to spare.
Goals from Sara Tubby, Chloe Lelliot, Tammy Waine, Sophie Frost and Sophie Humphrey secured a 14th league win in a row for Michelle Lawrence’s side in another action-packed afternoon at Woodside Road.
The hosts began brightly from the outset and had two chances to open the scoring inside the first five-minutes. Sophie Frost was the first to go close when her low drive from range was well saved before Sara Tubby saw her speculative effort fly high and wide of the Newhaven goal.
Worthing continued to press for the opener, and it came just three-minutes later when Frost kept her composure to find Tubby who made no mistake from 10-yards with a fine low finish into the bottom right corner to give her side the lead with less than 10-minutes on the clock.
Lelliott was next to go close for the home side when her effort from close range crashed into the side netting, before Frost saw another effort well blocked as the away side continued to come under pressure.
Despite dominating, Worthing were almost pegged back on 35-minutes when a dangerous Newhaven cross was well punched away by Amy Coster, before the Worthing shot stopper produced another smart sprawling save to deny Paige Ripley the equaliser.
With her side still leading, Lawrence introduced Gemma Worsfold and Hannah Hewlett in place of Loulou Robson and Frost as the hosts looked to find a crucial second goal before the break. Lelliott had her side’s final chance of the half on 43-minutes when her powerful effort fizzled wide from range as her side went into the break with their slender lead still intact.
Worthing came out all guns blazing in the second half and continued to threaten, Tubby saw her smart effort fly just wide on 47-minutes, before Sam Mee was also denied by a fine block.
The home side finally found their second goal on 52-minutes, when Lelliott expertly headed into the net from a corner as Newhaven’s aerial frailties were exposed ruthlessly. That goal lifted the spirits of the home side, who were now half an hour away from achieving promotion. Sophie Humphrey deputised for Tubby five-minutes later as Lawrence rotated her forward options to give her side a different dynamic.
Hewlett came close to adding a third when her header from a Mee corner was well gathered, before Worsfold’s stinging shot flew narrowly wide of the far post. With her side in control, Lawrence reintroduced Frost for goalscorer Lelliott to tighten up her midfield and increase her sides grip on proceedings.
Humphrey added a third for her side on 79-minutes as the floodgates opened. After being fed through, the Worthing winger showed great pace to beat her marker and calmly finish to put the result beyond all reasonable doubt.
Robson was re-introduced for Mee and came close to grabbing a goal when her shot was tipped onto the bar on 81-minutes, before Worthing added two more goals in the closing stages to round off another dominant performance. Frost was the first to add her name to scoresheet, as she reacted quickest to a loose ball for a simple finish after Robson’s clever free kick had been saved.
Defender Waine also capped another great performance with a goal in stoppage time when she blasted the ball in from close range after another dangerous corner was only partially cleared by the visitors.
That was the final action as jubilant scenes greeted the final whistle, which confirmed the long- awaited aim of promotion for Lawrence and her team.
After the match, Lawrence was full of praise for her team saying, “when we came together in the summer we set one target and that was to gain promotion. This challenge could have weighed heavy on the player’s minds but to their credit they have been relentless [undefeated in the league with 14 wins, 62 goals scored and only four goals conceded]. As you can imagine, with growing concerns over the coronavirus celebrations have been a little muted today. We may not play another game this season so I am pleased we got the chance to secure the points total needed and want to thank both sets of players, the coaches, match officials, volunteers and spectators for getting the game played.