Match Report: Gareth Nicholas
Jesse Starkey kept his place after coming on at Potters Bar Town along with fellow Tuesday replacement, Dajon Golding. Mo Diallo was joined on the bench by Mo Jammeh and Alfie Young, as Cam Tutt started a three-match ban and Reece Myles-Meekums faces several weeks out with ankle ligament damage.
The hosts, winless in the league but only narrowly edged out by Barnet in the FA Cup last week, started the livelier of the two teams when the ball was worked out to Fin Barnes on the right. His delivery found Kyle Richardson in the ‘D’ but he could only fire wide.
Reds were under the cosh and Roco Rees was forced into his first save of the afternoon as more good approach play concluded with him keeping out Josh Hitter at the expense of a corner.
It came as little surprise, therefore, that the Southern Leaguers went in front when a weak clearance by Rees resulted in Richardson shooting from distance and, while Rees partly redeemed himself by saving the shot, he merely succeeded in parrying straight to Liam Jackson. He drove low and hard into the opposite bottom corner from the right-hand side of the area.
Worthing finally made it over the half-way line through Ollie Pearce’s run down the right and cross into the box to Omar Koroma who touched to Golding but he was crowded out.
The Blues continued to take the game to their high-flying visitors and came desperately close, via a free-kick that Rees had to tip over and Jamie Eaton-Collins missing a ball to the back stick by millimetres, to increase their lead.
Ricky Aguiar started a move that led to him supplying Starkey who subsequently picked out Pearce. He headed across goal and could only watch as the ball bounced past the back post.
Leiston were almost giftwrapped a second goal after Rees’ kick went straight to Hitter. Thankfully, the midfielder finished the wrong side of the upright from long range.
Ten minutes before the break and the homesters, at last, doubled their advantage as a result of a goalmouth scramble that ended with Jackson poking home from close in.
Worthing gave themselves hope though by pulling one back in stoppage time. Marvin Armstrong’s persistence on the right, coupled with Ollie Saunders’ slip allowed our man to escape down the flank and seek Pearce to reduce the deficit; Ollie appearing to wrong foot goalkeeper, Sam Donkin who could only parry into the side of the net.
Man-of-the-Match, Barnes created room for an effort that Rees got down to hold comfortably in the early exchanges of the second-half before, five minutes later, the two-goal margin was restored thanks to Dylan Switters bursting clear down the left and seeing Jackson on the edge of the box. The striker converting from eighteen yards to make it three.
A similar demonstration of speed nearly saw Leiston’s name all but in the hat for the next round when Eaton-Collins sped through the inside-left channel, only to send his attempt fractionally wide of the near post.
The Isthmian leaders were heading out of the FA Trophy until two goals in five minutes turned the tie totally and utterly on it’s head.
Firstly, Omar Koroma hooked home from a Starkey corner then substitute Mo Diallo made sure, after Koroma had received a low delivery from the right by Joel Colbran, by sliding in to help the ball over the line.
However, this is Worthing FC we’re talking about here and this contest wasn’t over yet!
Jasper Pattenden tried to shepherd an overhit pass back to Rees but the netminder let the ball squirm from his grasp to leave Jackson with the opportunity to swivel and notch with his left foot, just outside the penalty area.
The drama wasn’t over yet though and Aguiar’s clever dummy and blocked shot fell nicely for captain Danny Barker to sweep the loose ball home to make it four-all.
There were a couple more close calls for the visitors after that but the afternoon, that started with a delayed 3:15 kick-off due to our late arrival, would be settled on penalties.
Leiston showed how to take them by converting all four of their kicks while Koroma and Golding blazed over the bar for us and our hopes of playing at Wembley were over, for another year.