Sun 28 November The Crucial Environmental Stadium

However, things didn’t quite go according to plan to start with, as Katie Young was a little too casual in her pass back attempt to goalkeeper Lauren Dolbear, allowing Kuyri McKenzie to steal in and fire straight at Red’s number one, who held on at the near post.

Normal service soon resumed though, as Young had no problems finding her range with a delightful ball to release Bell through the inside-right channel. The recent signing from Chichester & Selsey advanced into the penalty area where she beat ‘keeper Lauren Graves but not the crossbar, as her shot glanced off it before being cleared.

Efforts on goal weren’t hard to come by for the hosts, although they didn’t always pick out the target.

They couldn’t come much closer to breaking the deadlock when Gemma Worsfold burst into the box on the left looking to get on the end of a neat one-two with Sara Tubby, only for the return pass to go slightly behind her and fall nicely for Captain Hannah Hewlett; the outstretched right boot of Graves denying the Skipper, with Chloe Evans completing the clearance.

United responded when Millie Carter seized on a rare mistake by the otherwise impressive Chloe Lelliott and tried her luck from distance but could only warm the gloves of Dolbear, who was right behind the attempt.

A similar feat befell Tubby shortly afterwards, as she fired goalwards and into the hands of Graves, just outside the eighteen yard box. A move that started following a trademark surge down the left wing and low delivery into the danger zone by Ella Newman, which was only partially cleared by Yasmin Poole.

Newman’s next ball in caused further problems for the away side, thanks to her corner from the same side of the pitch being headed goalwards by Worsfold. A breakdown in communications led Evans to kick virtually out of Graves’ Hands, leaving Bell to pounce from five yards; drilling powerfully through the netmainder’s legs to open her account for her new club.

The early stages of the second period saw both Charlie Carter and Tubby have decent shots from long range, with the former unlucky to see her effort scrape the top of the net rather than hit the back of it and the latter even more so, when she struck the top of the bar.

Carter then gave the fresh legs of Beccy Simmons the opportunity to run at the guests’ rearguard with a measured long pass out of defence. Simmons’ sublime first touch took her away from fellow sub Jess Mead, only to take the shot early and fail to trouble Graves.

An inch-perfect slide-rule ball by Young found Shawna Harvey – also recently introduced to the fray – practically on the edge of the eighteen yard area and she instantly switched play across to Worsfold, who saw her attempt deflected behind off former Red Rebecca Thompson-Agbro.

Worthing nearly doubled their tally, though not via the conventional method as Carter headed Paige Walder’s left-sided delivery inches past her own upright.

Straight up the other end and a more regular route to goal by the hosts resulted in Worsfold spurning a good chance the wrong side of the target, after Harvey had intercepted a Graves goal-kick to gift wrap a potential match-sealer.

An immaculately-timed tackle, a yard or so inside the box by Carter prevented her opposite number Niamh Andersson getting any closer to making it a nervous final few moments for the Reds, after the Blue’s midfielder had latched on to a long ball over the top that had caught out the home backline.

The nearest we came to a goal after that arrived via Harvey turning Captain Walder and supplying Lelliott who, in turn located Young whose low, long-ranger emanated no danger.