Despite rallying in the second half, strikes from Natalie Taylor and Gemma Worsfold proved to be the consolation goals for Michelle Lawrence’s side who suffered their first league defeat of the season on Sunday.
The away side started brightly and broke the deadlock after just 6 minutes, when Taylor latched onto the end of Worsfold’s low cross to bundle the ball home from close range to give Worthing an ideal start.
Herne Bay responded almost immediately when Kate Foster powered a fantastic free kick past Lucy Apps and into the top corner right hand corner, only the second strike the away side had conceded all season.
Following that frantic start to proceedings, Worthing continued to press and had chances to retake the lead. Tammy Waine saw her strike fly wide from a knocked down free kick on 11 minutes, before Sam Mees angled delivery on 18 minutes clipped the top of the home crossbar. Worsfold also went close when she stole possession in the final third, however her powerful effort flew straight into the arms of home keeper Sarah Cooper on 25 minutes.
The hosts also had chances to take the lead after equalising. Midfielder Lauren Williams saw her pile driver fly well wide on 28 minutes. Worthing were forced into a change five minutes before half time, when the injured Waine departed for Keavy Price.
Herne Bay continued to press going into the break, and they found their second on 42 minutes. After winning the ball in the Worthing final third, striker Lauren Harris was sent clear through on goal to slide a precise strike beyond the onrushing Apps, who was unable to keep the effort out despite getting a strong hand to the ball.
Trailing at half time, manager Lawrence introduced Sophie Humphrey, Beth Kincaid and Sophie Grimson for Sara Tubby, Chloe Lelliot and Mee in search of an equalising goal.
Worthing came out a much rejuvenated side in the second period. Taylor went close to adding her second on 41 minutes, however her free kick was well handled by Coope. Kincaids low driven effort was also well saved by the Herne Bay keeper on 57 minutes.
The visitors remained in the ascendancy and came agonisingly close to equalising 60 minutes in, when Taylor’s effort from close range crashed off the upright, with no Worthing player able to turn in the rebound. Caroline Hodgson then saw her well struck shot from close range gathered by Cooper on 66 minutes.
Worthing finally found the equaliser their pressure warranted just a minute later, when Worsfold collected the ball in space and exquisitely lobbed Cooper from long range to the delight of the Worthing bench and her team-mates.
Having equalised, Lawrence’s side went in search of a vital third goal. Kincaid went close again on 71 minutes when her powerful effort tested Cooper from close range, before Hodgson saw another angled effort forced the home keeper into another stop a minute later.
Herne Bay rallied in the final 10 minutes after soaking up considerable pressure, and they found the games decisive goal with just six minutes remaining. With Worthing pushing for a winner, the hosts countered and made the visitors pay for their missed chances, when Grimson lashed an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net after Worthing failed to clear the initial ball into the box. The hosts could have made it four in the dying embers of the game, however Apps was quick off her line to deny Grimson 1-on-1 after Worthing were caught out from their own corner.
That was the final action of the game as Worthing recorded their first loss of the season in frustrating fashion having failed to take advantage of their opportunities in a tight contest.
Speaking after the game, captain Hannah Hewlett was disappointed to come away with a negative result after her side had shown vast improvement in the second half. She said, “Sometimes these kinds of results can define a season, how we react will be key. We are obviously all disappointed, but we have to move on and focus on the remainder of the season. Next week’s FA Cup game at Sutton is a great chance for us to bounce back ahead of our next league game in a couple weeks”.
Head Coach, Matt Wright was also keen to highlight clinical finishing as the difference between the two sides. On the loss, he said, “We came up against a good opponent with good strengths today, and they showed a lot of desire to compete, something that we maybe lacked a bit today. We had numerous chances to add to our tally and we pushed numbers forward to try and win the match, unfortunately a great strike has caught us out. Credit to Herne Bay, they pushed us all the way and got their reward”.
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