County Cup Sun 21 November The Dripping Pan

Playing on The Rookery’s 3G surface, it was the higher-league hosts who got the action underway after only six minutes; a long-range effort by Megan Cranford sailing narrowly over the crossbar.

Less than sixty seconds later though, the (Blue) Reds made the breakthrough.

A long pass released Humphrey on the right who burst to the byline before cutting back in and firing in off the far post.

With a number of former players and management in the visitors line-up and barking instructions from the sidelines, this Sussex Cup Quarter-Final was always going to carry a competitive edge.

Ella Newman, one of those former Rooks, had Worthing’s next chance when she too shot from distance but managed to force a tip-over out of home ‘keeper Ella Pettit. Taking the set-piece herself, Newman saw Katie Young denied by a striped shirt inside the six yard box, as the game remained delicately poised.

Moments later, hesitation in the Reds’ rearguard caused goalie Lauren Dolbear to beat away Cranford’s close-range attempt at the near upright.

Midway through the first forty-five, Sara Tubby’s gracefully guided ball over the top led to Humphrey surging towards the penalty area, where she got the better of her pursuer Hannah
Plumb and sent in a low cross that Pettit denied Hewlett from.

Five minutes further in, Dolbear pulled off an impressive two-handed stop to concede a mere flag-kick following Lottie Sharp’s driving run down the left wing, cut inside and powerful shot a fair way out.

Up the other end, Newman was continuing to cause problems with her dead ball deliveries; her initial left-sided corner only headed partially clear by Cranford and the follow-up leaving Pettit breathing at least a mild sight of relief, as she watched it marginally miss the top of the target.

Soon afterwards, Newman was at it again. This time picking out Tubby in the danger zone with a cross from the opposite flank which, unfortunately for the number eleven, she miskicked and Helwett dinked delicately into Pettit’s hands.

Tubby soon made amends for that minor error when her cross was met by the head of Gemma Worsfold, which Pettit could only parry into the path of Hewlett and the Captain couldn’t miss.

Lewes’ slightly tepid response resulted in Cranford trying to catch Dolbear off her line from distance, which simply wasn’t going to happen.

Smart goalkeeping from Pettit then frustrated Humphrey at the end of a long run down the centre of the park, as she latched onto another accurate punt by the backline and kept onside, only to be met by the Rook’s custodian at the edge of the eighteen yard area, a fraction ahead of her.

The early exchanges of the second period brought about more Humphrey-inspired play as the striker came close to adding an assist to her name, by creating consternation amongst the home team’s last line via a flag-kick that was only half-cleared. Hewlett’s finish narrowly the wrong side of the back stick.

Tia Hooper then reminded everyone that the match was far from over as she threatened to slalom her way all the way through a sea of blue shirts, until Amy Critchfield put a stop to it with an expertly-timed, last-ditch block tackle.

A little more than half-an-hour remained when Worthing extended their lead.

Quick thinking by Hewlett led to an early forward pass that a battling Humphrey did well to feed through to half-time substitute Harvey, who slotted confidently and clinically past Pettit.

Reds had an opportunity to put the game to bed, with a little more than a quarter-of-an-hour still on the clock.

Fresh off the bench, the returning Beccy Simmons sent in a corner that resulted in Harvey’s header somehow staying out while Becs Bell, on at the same time as part of triple change by Manager John Donoghue, also failed to turn the ball home before the panic at The (Dripping) Pan finally drew to a conclusion.

Fifteen minutes from time, the hosts gave themselves a glimmer of hope thanks to some fine approach play and decisive delivery from replacement Maddie Hotston.

Setting off down the left wing, coming back inside and finding the bottom corner meant that it would be a more nervous conclusion to proceedings.

A Lewes long-ranger produced another excellent save from Dolbear and Newman didn’t miss by much, a similar distance away but, an absorbing affair finally drew to a close and Worthing could look forward to a well-deserved semi-final at Crawley Wasps.