Only two changes were made to the team that started the victory at New London Lionesses a fortnight ago, with Sophie Humphrey and Niamh Andersson swapping places with Charlie Carter and Becs Bell. Katie Cooper had also recovered from the foot injury she suffered at MK Dons to take her spot on the bench.
In a repeat of last season’s tie at the same quarter-final stage, the Reds and Rooks lined up at the Crucial Environmental Stadium this time.
Looking for a similar outcome to November ‘21’s 3-1 verdict at The Rookery, it was the hosts who showed first, after just six minutes.
Rachel Palmer played Humphrey through the inside-left channel and Soph forced the opening save of the contest out of Lewes number one Abigail Dolding, at her near post.
A shot from distance by the same player dropped narrowly wide shortly afterwards, as Worthing continued their bright beginning.
The deadlock was finally broken via the set-piece expertise of Georgia Tibble, when her deadball delivery wasn’t properly cleared. Ellie Russell found herself with time and space in the penalty area but Dolding denied her from close range. However, the alert Chloe Winchester reacted quickest to smash the rebound in off the underside of the crossbar.
Five minutes further into proceedings, the pace of Andersson proved too much for Madeline Hotson, drawing a foul from the Lewes seven that saw the referee point to the spot. Up stepped Captain Gemma Worsfold to tuck home from twelve yards; the power in her free hit beating the despairing dive of Dolding, despite the ‘keeper getting both hands on the ball.
Half-time was almost upon us, although not before a Winchester side-step in the eighteen yard box was repelled by the gloves of goalie Dolding and despatched from a seemingly impossible angle by the ever-dangerous Andersson, who’s powerful blast nearly went through the net as it rocketed into the far top corner.
Forty-five were on the clock/the various watches of the home dugout when the visitors reminded
everyone that they were very much still in the game. Lauren Dolbear pulling off a true ‘worldie’ when she managed to, somehow, push Lottie Sharp’s edge-of-the-box effort onto the upright.
Early into the second period, Humphrey got the action underway once more following a driving run on the left to the byline that culminated in Dolding frustrating again at the base of her front stick.
Andersson, on the opposite side then appeared to draw a low tip around the same piece of apparatus out of Dolding, only for the ref, much to everyone’s surprise, to award a goal-kick instead.
It came as an even greater shock, therefore, less than ten minutes later when the previously unflappable Dolding could only watch on in horror, as her two-handed attempt at diverting Tibble’s long-tanger over the top dipped under rather than over the target.
Despite now having an even bigger mountain to climb, the East Sussex-based guests strung together a good move, emanating via a flicked Chloe Nye header out to an overlapping Kitty Chalkley. The subsequent deep cross unfortunately shanked wide by Tilly Gibbons.
Sharp nearly punished (Rachel) Palmer when the left-back got the ball stuck in her feet but the dispossession resulted in an off-target conclusion.
The crossbar came to the home team’s rescue when a momentary lapse of concentration ended with Sharp digging out an attempt that cannoned back off the frame of the goal.
Nothing could keep the White’s Wonder down though and she soon had her name on the scoresheet by slotting home what was surely a consolation.
A second Sharp shot was beaten away by Dolbear before interval change Becs Bell made absolutely certain, when she controlled a raking Winchester crossfield pass to emphatically fire in from a tight angle to make it five-one.
It may have even been a case of ‘six of the best,’ thanks to a flowing link-up instigated by the returning Cooper. Katie’’s backheel helped on by the recently reintroduced Linscer’ to Humphrey on the far side. A final placing behind the goal indicating it simply wasn’t meant to be