Isthmian Premier Division Sat 9 April Len Salmon Stadium
Bowers & Pitsea
  • Pearce (42')
  • Pattenden (83')

Manager Adam Hinshelwood stuck with virtually the same squad that beat Haringey at home seven days ago. The only exception being Club Captain Darren Budd returning to take his place on the bench, at the expense of youngster Lewis Thorn.

Kitted out in their change strip of all blue, the travelling title hopefuls dominated this game from the very beginning.

Jasper Pattenden took a throw-in on the right, deep into enemy territory, that led to an exchange of passes between him and Callum Kealy, ending with the Antipodean attacker finding Jesse Starkey unmarked just outside the ‘d’. His rasping drive rising a fraction too high, seven minutes in.

Unrelenting in their pursuit of glory, it needed the bravery of Jamie Dicks to block a close range effort by Reece Myles-Meekums, a short while later.

Then, a long Pattenden ball from the left picked out Ollie Pearce in the penalty area. One chest control and turn soon followed but a shot inches past the far post meant a maintaining of the status quo.

Not long after, the same source resulted in Dajon Golding heading a great opportunity over the bar, as Jasper recovered a partially-cleared Starkey delivery to return it back into the danger zone.

Marvin Armstrong teed-up Pearce to test Mitch Beeney from around twenty-five yards, though his low attempt was comfortably dealt with by the host’s ‘keeper, until the net finally bulged on thirty-three minutes.

Unfortunately, an offside flag muted the celebrations as James Beresford’s cross went through to Kealy who, after getting the better of Josh Rusoke, dispatched what he thought, at the time, to be the crucial opening goal.

However, an army of expectant fans wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the champions-elect to break the deadlock.

Once more, it was Starkey’s range-finder, from in front of his own dugout that the unlucky Rusoke miscontrolled, allowing Aarran Racine to climb above Declan Nche and head down for Pearce to let it bounce once before swivelling and burying beyond Beeney.

The lead might have been doubled on the stroke of half-time, only for Beresford to flash a daisy-cutter marginally the wrong side of the front stick.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between after the break, despite the guests continuing to enjoy the lion’s share of possession.

A Starkey corner was helped on by Pattenden but an attempted overhead kick by Pearce missed the target at the back stick.

Jesse, Skipper Aarran and Marv then strung together a neat succession of passes, left to right across the pitch, that culminated in Pattenden cutting in off the right wing, inside Mitch Gilbey and blasting goalwards into the hands of Beeney, from the corner of the penalty area via his weaker left foot.

Twisting and turning by Golding saw him break free from the clutches of three striped shirts on the edge of the eighteen yard box, before bursting between two more and reaching the byline, where his cross was deflected over the top for a flag-kick by Alex Bentley.

A rare response by Bowers resulted in a fine, flowing move on the right that saw Pedro Silva Barbosa Bento De Carvalho guide a VJ Mendes forward ball into the path of George Wind. He drifted in off the right flank to lay off to Nche who got away from Starkey and Arrmstrong, though sadly, his wayward finish failed to trouble Worthing number one Harrison Male.

One hand gripped the championship trophy, which almost became two when a one-two, x2, between Beresford and Golding, eventually ended with the latter slipping in Pearce through the inside-right channel and Beeney having to stretch to turn behind a fizzer across the face of goal and out the other side, for a flag-kick.

Then, on eighty-two minutes, the moment we’d all been waiting for.

Substitute Will Seager played down the line for Cam Tutt to flick back for Pattenden to come further in off the left and curl a beauty, outside the eighteen yard area, into the far side of the net, to ignite mass hysteria around most of The Len Salmon Stadium.

The only downside to the jubilant scenes resulted in a hamstrung Tutt having to leave the action; pulling up immediately after making that season-defining assist.

Fortunately however, the spirit of neither he nor the majority of those in attendance could be dampened by the scenes about to unfold….!!!!