Match Report: Gareth Nicholas
In driving wind and intermittent showers, it took a while for both sides to find their feet and it was the visitors who found theirs first.
Debutant goalkeeper, Daniel Gibson was called into action to parry an Alfie Peacock effort but it required one of a line of red shirts, on the line, to deflect Oscar Lambert’s follow-up behind for a corner.
Freddie Legg then tested the rookie number one as he saw his attempt beaten away at the near post, at the end of a positive run down the right wing.
The hosts hit back through Kyle O’Brien going in the opposite direction on the same flank, though his well-struck shot hit the side netting.
He made no mistake moments later, however when he seized on some hesitancy in the Arrow’s rearguard and broke clear before slotting past Charlie Holmwood, to open the scoring.
United’s custodian was equal to Frankie Perry’s burst and blast, then really showcased his shot-stopping abilities by impressively turning aside a Jamie Smith effort at the expense of a flag-kick.
Shots continued to rain down on the visitor’s goal, with Maxwell Bartlett the next to test Holmwood’s reflexes from the edge of the penalty area.
Worthing held onto their lead going into the half-time break and within seconds of the resumption after it, they doubled it.
Lewis Thorn’s corner wasn’t properly cleared and Perry recycled the ball back into the danger zone, where Holmwood blotted his copybook by failing to hold onto the cross, presenting Joe Rye with a simple opportunity to pounce and profit.
Despite suffering such a blow, the lads of East Sussex retaliated without haste.
A stunning lob, twenty-two yards out, left Gibson stranded and Jack Bates celebrating putting his team right back into the contest.
Bartlett, scorer of four goals in the previous round’s rout of Horsham YMCA, had a chance to reestablish the two-goal advantage, only to glance his header marginally the wrong side of the far upright, as he couldn’t quite get a clean enough contact.
That same piece of apparatus proved equally decisive a few minutes later; Thorn flashing a low one just past it, again, after the ball ran loose in the box.
Reds had rediscovered their mojo and Bartlett came close once more when he swept Jamie Smith’s right-sided delivery inches over the angle of crossbar and post.
A breakaway, started by O’Brien’s dispossessing of Bates in midfield, saw the pacy left-back skip a challenge before supplying Bartlett but this time Holmwood got a hand to his shot, to concede a corner.
The set-piece was taken short by the tall ten, leading to an exchange of passes between him and Thorn with the latter whistling one narrowly over the target.
Twenty to go and it needed a timely intervention by Captain Owen Spicer to deny Lambert a near-certain equaliser, to remind Reds that the job wasn’t done yet.
They continued to go in search of a third goal, as Ollie Starkey got away on the left and cut inside where he was kept out by the hands of Holmwood.
Eighty showed up on the clock when substitute Owen Worsdell shrugged off the attentions of the guest’s backline; embarking on a run that eventually saw him send in a low delivery that Bartlett did well to control slightly behind him and tee-up O’Brien, who could consider himself a touch unlucky in trying to keep his attempt below the bar.
The high winds were a particular hindrance to Worsdell, when his chip got held up and landed comfortably inside the six-yard box for Holmwood to calmly collect, less than a minute later.
Similarly, a free-kick straight down the middle nearly caught out his opposite number Gibson in stoppage time; the goalie patting away Skipper Louie Hoad’s one bounce long-ranger before his defence completed the clearance.