The Arrows, who missed out on the Division One South title by a single point last season, almost took a very early lead.
Izzy Burt stole possession away from the returning Tiggy Webb and Sian Heather poked past Charlie Carter but the home Captain recovered well to intercept, although ‘keeper Lauren Dolbear had to be alert to push around the post to avert an own goal.
Straight up the other end and it needed opposite number Blair Hamilton to show equally fine reflexes, when a deft through ball by Emily Linscer gave Humphrey a sight of goal, only for the towering custodian to come out smartly and deny the reigning Player of the Year.
However, home fans didn’t have to wait long for the opener as Linscer once again played in a teammate in similar fashion, with Bell this time shooting across Hamilton to give her little chance, after ten minutes.
Katie Young spotted an opportunity to test the opposing netminder again as we reached the midway point of the first forty-five, following a delightful touch to beat her marker, though Hamilton was able to breathe a sigh of relief when the left-back’s long-range effort around twenty-five yards out flew over the crossbar.
A much welcome drinks break, agreed by both teams prior to kick-off, arrived on the half-hour mark but not before the Reds had doubled their advantage.
Summer signing Georgia Tibble’s slide-rule pass was seized upon by Humphrey who kept her composure, dragging Hamilton away from the target and finding the back of the net, to match Bell’s record of two goals in three warm-up games.
Both the weather and the action heated up as Manager John Donoghue brought on all four substitutes at the refueling interval but it was the suitably refreshed Hayley Bridge, bombing down the left, as the hometsers went in search of a third less than a minute later.
Unfortunately, there was nobody in a red shirt to take advantage of GT’s low delivery that Hamilton parried out into the heart of the danger zone.
Despite Worthing largely dominating proceedings up to this juncture, things nearly took a semi-dramatic twist with eight minutes to go ‘til the usual half-time intermission; Heather powering through the Red’s rearguard and drawing another sharp near post save out of Dolbear.
Finally, everyone could enjoy a breather and Hastings made three changes during the fifteen minute hiatus.
It was the Premier Division side who came closest to putting the match beyond doubt though, shortly after the change of ends.
Tibble once more the source as she picked out the recently introduced Gemma Worsfold in space in the penalty area, via the inside-left channel. Sadly, last term’s top scorer couldn’t keep her attempt down, with our number ten far from the only person surprised at not seeing the assistant referee raise his flag for offside.
Pace on the flank coupled with a steely determination proved key in Ella Newman giving the visitors a fright shortly afterwards.
Charging along the right all the way to the byline, she drove inside and outsmarted defensive duo Holly Carter and Vix Phillips before Rosie Muggeridge deflected her shot to safety, thus ending a terrific run.
Long distance digs failed to trouble the scoreboard, with Niamh Anderson tempted to try her luck a long way away, for those of a red persuasion, thanks to Carter’s inviting set-up.
Newman was wreaking havoc again when she supplied Bell in the box who, in turn, offered an opening to Anderson, who fired over the top from the edge of it.
A rare White’s riposte led to Dolbear shuffling across to get her body behind Heather’s long-range skidder, prior to Worsfold coming close in the last ten, only for her to suffer the same fate she’d just dished out to Muggeridge; nicking the ball of the centre-half, then Phillips doing likewise to avoid a likely third strike sealing the guest’s fate.
Metaphorical ice baths were moments away but there was still time for Newman to give it one last go.
Claire Johnson fouled Webb to concede a free-kick and a subsequent rocket that was given lift-off but blasted behind, to round off an energy-sapping affair.