It was the usual four in four out to begin with as Manager Adam Hinshelwood opted to go with a line-up that included the previously cup-tied Splatt, Dan Bowry, Mo Jammeh and Danny Barker. Nodirbek Bobomurodov, Cal Kealy, Reece Myles-Meekums and Sammie McLeod the ones to miss out.
The match got underway with both sides smarting from recent defeats; Reds exiting the FA Cup last week and the visitors having lost their last three league encounters.
Less than thirty seconds in and we had the first opportunity of the afternoon, when referee Jack Packman bided his time before deeming Barker’s hand in Hisham Kasimu’s back not to be worthy of two in the bush but a penalty. Unfortunately, for the team that started the day in the relegation zone, Jonathon Page failed to take advantage of a free hit from twelve yards, blasting over the bar to keep things tight(er) at nil-nil.
He was almost paid to regret that miss with interest, as a flowing counter-attack culminated in Splatt’s ball to Ollie Pearce being passed on to Lewis White, who drilled a low shot narrowly wide of the far post.
No time to take that all in though before another goal-scoring opportunity came along with only three minutes having elapsed.
A deadlock-breaker appeared inevitable when Boro’ custodian Jack Turner got caught in no man’s land outside the area, confusion/hesitation between him and the influential Sam Deering leaving a lob at an open net for Pearce. Our number ten deftly doing so, only for Turner to redeem himself by scrambling back and hooking off the line to stop home fans in mid-celebration.
Approaching the midway mark of the opening period, a second flurry of chances arose.
Kane Wills got them underway thanks to a wonderful pass down the right to release James Beresford. He slalomed his way past a pair of yellow shirts into the box but was eventually denied by a sliding block from Captain Kevin Lokko.
Within sixty seconds the Hampshire side responded via the secret weapon of Ollie Robinson’s long throw.
Taken from the right and flicked on by Lokko, it was so nearly converted at the rear upright by the incoming former Bognor nemesis Jordy Mongoy.
Typically though, only a few short minutes passed by before the target at one end or the other came under threat yet again.
Ex-Whitehawk midfielder Deering firing over the top from the edge of the eighteen yard area after a half-cleared cross fell ideally for him.
Finally, after almost half-an-hour of toing and froing, the men in red demonstrated how it should be done.
Twinkle toes White danced down the left, entering the penalty box and lay across to Splatt to apply the finish and open his account for his new club at the same time.
Drama then unfolded when the guests needed three bites at the cherry but couldn’t capitalise on any of them.
Initially, Aarran Racine had inadvertently left space in behind by choosing the wrong moment to step up. A marauding Mongoy didn’t need a second invitation and got a shot away, in between a recovering Racine and covering Wills, only to hit the woodwork in the form of Harrison Male’s front stick. Feeling left out, the opposite apparatus soon matched their opposite number, so to speak; frustrating the same player a second occasion in quick succession, with Kasimu completing a hat-trick of near misses thanks to the reflexes of Male, at close-quarters.
Male’s alertness also paid dividends in the last minute of a breathless first forty-five, diving out to intercept a pass that would otherwise have created an opening for Mongoy to potentially level the score and register an assist for Reggie Young.
The final say, however, went to Worthing following a neat passage of precise passing carving out an opportunity for a backward falling Beresford to head above the crossbar, at the end of a teasing delivery off the right wing by goalscorer Splatt.
Regrettably, the second-half failed to match the excitement of the first.
Kasimu denied once more as he was unable to get on the end of Selim Saied’s ball into the box and Pearce could only find the hands of Turner, around eighteen yards out, after White had set him up.
Despite dominating possession, the Cherrywood Road outfit hadn’t done much – following the change of ends – with it until they hit the target with one of just two accurate attempts.
Saied leaving no doubt that he’d connected when he pounced on a loose ball to curl a long-ranger into the top corner.
In response, a triple change that saw McLeod, Moe Shubbar and Kealy introduced at the expense of Splatt, Pearce and Jammeh showed that the Red’s meant business.
That said, it would be Kasimu who proved to be the best bet at adding to the total by partially making contact at the back post, once Lokko had nodded down Deering’s flag-kick.
A rare bright spot for an under-the-cosh home team led to good work by sub Sammie (McLeod), on the right, being largely undone by a wayward finish with his left that he dragged the wrong side of the goal frame.
Then, in a role-reversal, the guests ‘stole’ all three points by bagging a ninety-first minute winner.
Robinson had limped off and been replaced by Courtney “CJ” Fearn little more than half-an-hour in, so Jordan Norville-Williams took up the long throw mantle; launching one into the danger zone that was flicked on by very late replacement Jack Ball for Page to rewrite the script and spark joyous scenes amongst the travelling army – and in the Director’s Box – by knocking home a late strike at the rearmost post to erase memories of his earlier spot-kick miss.