Match Report: Gareth Nicholas
Neither team had played for two weeks, due to their scheduled opponent’s FA Cup commitments and petrol shortages. This did, however, allow Joel Colbran, Jasper Pattenden and Cam Tutt to return to fitness; with the former starting in place of Luca Cocoracchio and the latter pair taking their places on the subs bench alongside Reece Myles-Meekums, whose spot was taken by Dean Cox. There was no place in the matchday squad at all for Alfie Young.
The game took a little while to get going and the hosts presented the visitors with the opening opportunity of the afternoon, when Aarran Racine passed straight to Johnville Renee; the ball was worked across to Ben Marlow at least twenty yards out but he could only lean back and blast into the stratosphere.
Stortford rapidly returned the favour, to their cost, via Mark Haines’ first touch to a long Racine pass out of defence that went instantly to Golding. He turned and slipped in Marvin Armstrong who saw his shot creep just inside the far post and over the line, despite the best efforts of Renee in trying to prevent it from doing so.
Haines was having a torrid time up against Marv, letting the ball roll under his foot to hand the all-action midfielder the chance to increase his and his team’s advantage moments later, then breathing a sigh of relief thanks to Goalkeeper Jack Giddens spreading himself to make a fine save, at the expense of a corner.
That set-piece saw the late-arriving Pat Webber glance Jesse Starkey’s flag-kick past the back stick.
Shortly before the break the Reds did bag a second through the strength and determination of Golding, hugging the left-hand touchline. He took Webber’s pass in his stride, turned and dumped Captain Sam Robbins on his backside then broke into the penalty area, where he cut inside the recovering Renee and managed to find the space to place his finish into the far side of the net with his right foot.
Golding almost turned provider two minutes later after Cox pounced on a loose pass in the centre of the park and set him on his way. He duly sped down the left once more; pulling a low cross behind Ollie Pearce at the front upright, all the way over to Cox on the far angle of the eighteen yard box from where the diminutive number seven fizzed an equally low drive back towards from whence it had come, missing the target by a matter of inches.
Right on half-time Webber’s left wing delivery found Cox in the thick of the action again; this time his header down to Danny Barker ended up sailing over the crossbar.
After the interval, a neat piece of skill by Starkey resulted in him leaving Archie Jones in his wake as he raced away; reaching the penalty area before unleashing an effort that flew behind.
It wasn’t long however until Worthing notched a third of this absorbing contest.
An excellent fifty-fifty tackle won by Barker, just outside his own ‘d’, denied Jonny Giles possession and soon saw an onside Golding turning on the afterburners. No white shirt could catch him and the pacy winger scored off the inside of the near post, as he beat Giddens again.
The men of Herts weren’t beaten yet though; Ryan Charles shooting down the left and, when Barker and Racine left it to each other found Jones unmarked but he could only scuff towards the target and the danger was eventually cleared.
They soon got themselves back in the game following Renee being afforded the time and space to pick out substitute James Baker at the near upright to head powerfully home with his first touch, seconds after coming on.
Ten to go and Pearce latched onto a Barker ball to surge towards the penalty box, where he fell under the close attention of Renee but the referee waved away his appeals for a spot-kick.
Starkey teed up Pearce to try his luck from twenty yards shortly afterwards, although Giddens wasn’t unduly troubled.
Reds may have had a fourth due to Barker’s long pass being controlled by Golding, after the bounce had caught out Robbins and Dayshonne had got in between the tall centre-half and the ball, before swivelling and getting away from his marker; Giddens spilling his near-stick attempt but Robbins recovering well and able to aid his team in playing their way out of trouble.
One final opportunity fell to the guests, with Renee on the right knocking inside to Giles who set himself, only to curl up and over, narrowly avoiding any low-flying aircraft, in the ninetieth minute.