After last Sunday’s home win against Enfield Town, it was a trip to another of this year’s newbies, Ebbsfleet United.
Only unavailability forced Manager John Donoghue into a change to the sixteen that represented the Reds seven days ago. The fit-again Hayley Bridge taking the place of Katie Cooper on the bench as the starting eleven remained the same.
A dominant performance by the high-flying visitors saw them very much in the ascendancy in the first forty-five minutes, although it was actually the home side who offered the game’s opening gambit.
Amy Russ nudged the ball past Ellie Russell and advanced down the left, before exchanging passes with Lydia Wills in the penalty area and shooting behind, with the angle not quite in her favour.
Reds responded instantly when Gemma Worsfold was put in the clear and forced a save out of United ‘keeper Courtney Shanly. Becs Bell was also denied on the follow-up by Ellie Perkins’ brave block but Shanly had the final say in frustrating Worsfold a second time.
The travelling Blues continued to pepper the host’s goal, as Katie Young’s long ball forward from inside her own half caused further concern in the box. (It was) Tibble’s turn to see her effort kept out by a well-marshalled rearguard. Ella Newman eventually dropping her attempt narrowly off target.
Young got in on the act again, via a cross – crafted through good work by Sophie Humphrey and Bell – whose namesake Georgia could only head away as far as Niamh Andersson who didn’t miss by much.
Then, mirroring the men at Hemel Hempstead twenty-four hours earlier, Worthing found themselves going in at the break trailing.
In the last sixty scheduled seconds of the first period, Meg Wood spread out wide to Russ and the Division’s top scorer spotted custodian Lauren Dolbear off her line; having the wherewithal to lob over the stranded number one from all of forty yards for an incredible strike.
A double substitution at the interval saw Chloe Winchester and Bridge introduced for Bell and elbow-injury victim Andersson.
Within five minutes of the resumption, Katie Young produced an identical finish, pouncing on a sliced clearance by Liv Jestin and depositing a thirty yarder over the head of Shanly to rapidly restore the equilibrium.
Right on the hour mark, a foul on Worsfold twenty – twenty-five yards out, slightly to the right of centre gave Tibble an opportunity to take aim with a dead ball delivery that she then duly delivered from. Curling a wonderful set-piece into the opposite top corner to put the guests in front for the first time in the match.
Space opened up for Worsfold as she threatened to make it three not long afterwards, only to lash past the post to offer a glimmer of hope to the homesters.
Although something stronger looked likelier following Captain Dan Carlton’s very deep free-kick picking out Charlie Carter to head as far as Millie Waud. One bounce on the roof of the stand had the referee calling for a new match ball, much to the relief of the visiting outfit.
Half-time replacement Bridge restored some sanity thanks to a pass out to Humphrey on the right that deflected to Newman, who suffered the same fate with a final attempt also having the sting taken out of it in identical fashion and Shanly was able to gather safely.
Less than a minute later, Tibble came agonisingly close to increasing the deficit as she stretched to reach a great ball into the eighteen-yard box by Young but couldn’t quite apply sufficient contact.
Latifat Adaja’s miscue caught out Carter, who slipped and was grateful to her goalie (Dolbear) getting ahead of sub Charley MacNeil, to smother and nullify with eighty-three on the clock.
Fleet’s netminder Shanly did likewise to parry smartly from Humphrey’s close-range, angled effort a matter of seconds further on.
Two last chances might have put the game to bed.
(G.)Young’s sliding challenge on Newman deemed worthy of a free-kick. Newman dusted herself down and unnerved the Red’s defence, before the ball eventually came out to Tibble who fired above the bar.
Ebbsfleet’s right-back then faced Tibble directly as a quick-thinking Georgia got there first and wasn’t very far away from lobbing Shanly to round off a fine afternoon’s work.