Harrison Male returned to fitness to reclaim his place between the sticks while Colbran,Tutt, Barker, Racine, Pearce, Jesse Starkey, Kealy and Pattenden all enjoyed a night off. A youthful bench was made up entirely of teenagers from the U18s/ Academy, including a debut for Billy-George Fuller.
Things got off to the worst possible start for the high-flying visitors, when a simple ball forward by Nathan Cooper dissected the defence to send Alahady Jalloh clear through the inside-right channel. He calmly broke into the penalty box before drilling a low shot across the diving Male to open the scoring around thirty seconds in.
Reds responded via Dajon Golding’s left wing run ending with him nutmegging Hamish Morrison, as his low cross found an unmarked Davide Rodari but he could only sweep over from close range.
Route one then produced an equaliser after ten minutes, following a huge kick downfield by Male which Rodari controlled first time and dispatched over the head of the stranded Billy Collings, after the home ‘keeper had strayed outside his area.
A great way to open your account for your new club and it might have been two moments later. Will Seager played an identical long pass forward but the initial touch gave Tom Cadman enough of a gap to gradually guide the Crawley Town loanee away from danger.
Morrison’s corners were a threat throughout and one in particular saw Male come out to collect, fumble but rapidly redeem himself as the ensuing scramble resulted in him parrying behind for another flag-kick. Cadman denied a goal against one of his former clubs.
The tricky Jalloh got the better of James Beresford deep on the right before offering Cooper the chance to shoot that he shanked wide of the near post, as Heath continued to impress.
Dean Cox hit the wall with a centrally-placed free kick – won by Rodari – and drilled the rebound from the same position into the grateful gloves of Collings, who gathered comfortably.
Something Male did shortly afterwards when Liam Benson caught Ty Mthunzi in possession, though Jay Popham couldn’t capitalise.
Worthing, up against an energetic home team, went back on the attack. Golding’s left flank delivery was headed at the back stick, past the front one and out the other side for a corner by one of three red shirts. A prize will be awarded if anyone can tell me who it was that got the decisive touch !
An equally difficult puzzle also took some solving, until the general conclusion decreed that Darren Budd became the second visiting player to register his first Worthing goal of the season.
His dead-ball delivery, tight to the left-hand touchline, ended up going all the way into the far side of the net. Morrison suffering the extra indignity of picking up the evening’s first yellow card for bringing down Golding to start with.
The Seager/Rodari partnership almost extended the guest’s lead in stoppage time, as the former picked out the run of the latter. Some brave goalkeeping by Collings was succeeded by an equally brave block by Kieran Rowe to ensure the scoreboard remained unaffected.
Half-time saw another former red in the shape of Trevor McCreadie introduced to the action and, as in the opening stages of the first forty-five, the embryonic exchanges of the second resulted in the net bulging once more.
Rowe closed down Seager in a flash and Jalloh slipped in McCreadie on the left to burst into the eighteen yard area, whereupon he flashed a low drive out of Male’s reach into the opposite bottom corner.
However, no sooner had Town restored the equilibrium, then they very nearly lost it again.
Club Skipper Budd dinked a delivery into the box that was latched onto by Reece Myles-Meekums and repelled at the near upright by Collings, only for Meeky to bobble the ball across the six yard box and first-half substitute Byron Napper to be seen as fouling Rodari. Although contact appeared to be minimal, emphasised by an angry push in the chest by the perceived guilty party.
Regular taker Ollie Pearce watched on with the rest of us as Golding assumed penalty-taking duties. Unfortunately, his effort was too close to Collings who went the right way to keep out his kick.
The width of the post was all that prevented Rodari wiping that miss from immediate memory, after Beresford had found Myles-Meekums who beat the influential Jalloh and Davide nipped in fractionally ahead of recent replacement Sinn Christie, only for the woodwork to get in the way.
Golding then had an opportunity to do likewise but he failed to keep his attempt down; sub Ollie Starkey doing well in holding off Cadman to allow Seager to give Gil Carvalho the slip and tee-up Dajon.
Heath then showed how to do it via a short, simple pass down the line by Cadman to Carvalho that the substitute drove into the box, Benson struck Luca Cocoracchio with and the loose ball fell kindly for McCreadie to smash home high into the net, seven yards out.
Worthing tried desperately to keep themselves in the competition and a deep free-kick from the right nearly helped them do it.
Budd floated it in and Seager crashed his header off the crossbar, with Collings pouncing on Rodari’s overhead effort at the second time of asking.
Captain Darren saw his twenty yarder from a corner on one side deflected out for another one on the other as the clock ticked down.
That same set-piece source saw Morrison bounce his off the top of the goal frame, when a fourth would have put any thoughts of a penalty shootout firmly to bed.
In the end though, Haywards Heath deservedly progressed to the quarter-finals.