Match Report: Gareth Nicholas

There were two changes to the side which started Tuesday’s thrashing of Pagham, with Luca Cocorrachio coming in for captain Aarran Racine and taking over the armband, while Jesse Starkey took the place of Ollie Read. A strong-looking sub’s bench featured Joel Colbran, Marvin Armstrong, Ollie Pearce, Dajon Golding, and Leon Moore alongside the two goalscorers.

Things looked promising when, after only three minutes, Tom Biggs had the first shot on target that Harrison Male held down low by his near post.

Only another three had elapsed before the visitors responded via a lightning-quick counter-attack led by Jesse Starkey and Shaq Gwengwe; the former charging into the penalty area where he elected to pass to the latter who was offside.

It took until the stroke of half-time for anything else of note to be created by either team. Academy right-back Jamie Smith sending over a cross for Jasper Pattenden to head wide of the back stick.

By this time however, Golds had lost striker Biggs to a very nasty looking ankle injury that required hospital treatment. Our best wishes go to him for a speedy recovery.

We briefly changed sports when Jesse and Scott Packer decided to start the build-up to Saturday night’s Wrestlemania with their own demonstration of WWE-style wrestling. Starkey getting the three-count and immediately stating his case to be the number one challenger for Roman Reigns’ Universal Title.

That last piece of added drama happened in the final few seconds of the opening period but we soon returned to the right kind of action following the change of ends, thanks to Pattenden bombing down the right wing and getting in a delivery that Male was forced to beat away at his front upright.

Approaching the hour mark and the Reds edged themselves in front. Two of the seven new faces on at the break combined when, after Mitch Hand had allowed a throw-in to roll under his foot and gift possession to Pearce the replacement raced clear into the area and teed-up his namesake, Starkey The Younger to slot home.

Ollie S almost doubled his tally seconds later by taking down a lovely lofted ball into the box from Golding only to be denied by a defensive block.

The same pair fashioned a second opportunity midway through the half at the end of an excellent run to the byline by Dajon. Unfortunately though, Starkey’s first-time effort went the wrong side of the upright.

The scores were nearly level shortly after that with Jordan Layton floating a left-wing free-kick towards the back stick that the recently introduced Danny Hand almost profited from, arriving late and unmarked to squeeze his attempt behind.

Fifteen minutes to go and the visitor’s stamped their authority on the match.

Firstly, an in-form Golding beat his man and his low, byline cross resulted in first-half sub and former Worthing man Chas Williamson getting in a vital block.

Then, the goals flowed. Pearce getting the ball rolling as he nipped in front of ‘keeper James Binfield, whereupon half-time change and another ex-Red Jack Newhouse initially clearing off the line, only for the ball to sit up nicely for Ollie Starkey to head home his second of the afternoon.

Myles-Meekums soon took over the goal scoring mantle to challenge Starkey Junior for the match ball; bagging a three minute brace.

His opener arriving thanks to his own industry on the edge of the eighteen-yard box and a curling finish past the outstretched arms of Binfield.

He added a second a short while later via an assist from the trusted right boot of Golding to tap home from close range.

However, the goal of the game came three minutes before the ninety were up.

Armstrong inadvertently got in the way of Golding’s pass inside after he’d neatly exchanged passes with left-back Kyle O’Brien on the right and presented Harrsion Mott, formerly of this Manor with an opportunity to hold off a sea of red before lifting the ball into Joe Benn to execute a stunning, angled Mark Hughes-style volley into the far top corner.

Sixty seconds further on and one last effort fell to Jesse Starkey but Binfield palmed onto the post.