Manager, Adam Hinshelwood was forced into making a few changes due to injury and illness. Luca Cocoracchio came in for Will Seager, who left the action in the first half at Folkestone, with Marvin Armstrong and Dayshonne Golding keeping their places after also climbing off the bench last week. Illness robbed the team of Reece Myles-Meekums and Alfie Young, as Cam Tutt served the last of his two-match ban hanging over from last season. Alex Parsons returned to the side and Shaq Gwengwe was joined amongst the replacements by Kyle O’Brien and Ty Mthunzi.
After nearly a year-and-a-half away from Woodside Road, a crowd of more than eleven hundred were eagerly anticipating the return of competitive football.
Unfortunately, they were left largely disappointed by an opening period which failed to deliver much in the way of chances or excitement.
That was despite a one-two played between corner taker, Dean Cox and Jasper Pattenden after less than ten minutes, resulting in the former’s low delivery into the danger zone arriving at the feet of Pearce who guided it into the bottom corner, with visiting goalkeeper, Lamar Joseph-Johnson appearing to be wrong-footed by a slight deflection.
Sixty seconds or so later, a piece of pinball in the penalty area ended with Joel Colbran clearing Dan Trendall’s shot off the line but only at the expense of a flag-kick, when his clearance rebounded off an unwitting teammate.
We still hadn’t reached the quarter-hour mark when Christmas arrived early for the boys from Basildon. Armstrong being caught in possession by Max Cornhill who had the simple task of teeing up Brad Sach for a delicate dink over an exposed Harrison Male, for the equaliser.
The only remaining, serious opportunity before the break didn’t present itself until four minutes from it. Bowers handing the hosts a gift of their own when Quentin Monville passed straight to Parsons on the edge of the eighteen yard box, only for the home man’s touch to let him down and give the ball right back to his opponent, leaving Monville to mop up and the watching masses to resume their Saturday afternoon siestas.
Regrettably, on a far more serious note, the main talking point of the first forty-five was a few mindless idiots thinking it acceptable to racially abuse the visiting ‘keeper. Thankfully they were soon on their way out of the ground, hopefully never to return to our or any other stadium. What’s wrong with some people ?
Much to the relief of those of us that have brains, the change of ends saw the Reds regain the lead just five minutes in, as the game continued without the futile few.
Once again a Cox corner created it, as his set-piece expertise on the right reaped it’s rewards when Captain, Aarran Racine rose above the rest to power home his header from the back post inside the near one.
Parsons turned and fired narrowly over the target from just outside the penalty box shortly afterwards, before it took three defenders to combine and block his next effort inside it as Pearce nearly turned provider.
Sadly, that proved to be Parson’s last significant contribution to proceedings; a long throw by the guest’s Monville eventually led to a rapid counter-attack, that saw the returning midfielder drive forward from halfway and come off worse in a fifty-fifty challenge with the onrushing Joseph-Johnson. Tom Chalaye replacing him as he was helped off the pitch with a serious-looking knee injury.
B&P’s number one then did well to deny Pearce, by stopping and holding onto his thirty-five yard free-kick by his near upright. Jamie Dicks receiving a yellow card for the foul.
However, the Essex-based side’s netminder decided to hand Pearce another go, with a poor clearance straight to the striker, who nodded on to Chalaye, who lobbed a good chance wide.
The same player got two bites of the cherry barely a minute later, only for the replacement to be frustrated by Joseph-Johnson, at the expense of a corner.
Fellow forward and the recently introduced Gwengwe outfoxed a pair of blue shirts to create room for a goalbound attempt that he sent fractionally the wrong side of the back stick, from the top corner of the penalty area.
Time was nearly upon us before a red card shown to Cornhill, for a studs-up tackle on Danny Barker, reduced the away team to ten men and Worthing made their second-half domination count, through Chalaye’s flick allowing Pearce to drill a low effort beyond the travelling custodian, six yards out on a tight trajectory.
Roles were soon reversed, as Reds increased their advantage, courtesy of Pearce picking out his strike partner’s run into the danger zone that was smashed past the despairing dive of Joseph-Johnson.
Chalaye nearly added an assist to his name, by fizzing in a low ball to Gwengwe but he couldn’t quite convert and Dicks fired a long-range free-kick into the wall in stoppage time, as the visitors were well-beaten in the end.