The Reds came into the fixture off the back of their first defeat in 2023 last week, losing 2-1 away at Tonbridge Angels. While the Saints travelled down south after suffering a 3-0 defeat to bottom-placed Hungerford Town in midweek.
Adam Hinshelwood was still without Joe Rye as the youngster continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. Though, the squad was boosted with the returns of loanees Liam Vincent and Mo Dabre. Vincent started in place of Aarran Racine while Dabre was named among the substitutes.
It took just five minutes for the visitors to open the scoring when Tafari Moore’s defence-splitting pass found its way to Mitchell Weiss who converted his one-on-one past Harrison Male.
Looking to reply swiftly, Lewis White was sent in behind the Saints’ defence. Keeper Dylan Berry rushed out to meet him and brought down the attacker, receiving a yellow card for the foul despite Worthing’s appeals for further punishment.
Ten minutes later, the Saints doubled their advantage. Vincent was caught out of position and brought down Davante Stanley in the area. The league’s top scorer Shaun Jeffers stepped up and rolled it down the middle into the net.
Soon after, Jeffers was threatening once more. This time Male produced an important diving save to deny the attacker from the edge of the area.
The Reds were looking to get themselves back in the contest when Davide Rodari was sent in behind. He stumbled over before regaining his balance and squaring to White who teed up Josh Chambers, but his left-footed effort was high and wide.
The Rebels did reduce the deficit on 29 minutes when Ollie Pearce brought down Joel Colbran’s diagonal ball with his chest to beat his man before firing into the bottom corner for 2-1.
Colbran was the provider again just two minutes later as the Reds found an unlikely equaliser. His cross was brought down by White, and the winger slotted past Berry.
But, at the other end, the Saints regained the lead. Zane Banton capitalised on a Danny Barker mistake and found the bottom corner in what was a five-minute frenzy at Woodside.
The Reds did not give in though and were back on level terms on 36 minutes. Colbran fed through Pearce once more and the forward looked destined to score but was denied by a superb one-handed save. The rebound reached the feet of White whose bouncing ball found Rodari to leave him with the simple task of slotting in.
Before the half time whistle, the Saints had an opportunity through Banton, but Male was equal to it and parried wide, leaving the sides level at the interval despite all the madness.
The Rebels started the second half far better than they did the first after a change of shape after the break. Dabre replaced Vincent as the Reds transitioned to a new formation.
Early in the half, Kane Wills’ cross across the face of goal agonisingly evaded both Pearce and Rodari in the box.
But, just before the hour mark, it was the visitors who took the advantage for the third time in the match. Stanley beat his man in the right corner before squaring to substitute Chay Cooper who scored from close range.
The end-to-end manner of the contest continued though, as less than ten minutes later, Pearce netted his second. It was Colbran who charged into the area, battling through tackles, before the ball fell to Pearce who hit it with his left foot into the bottom corner.
Looking to take the lead for the first time in the contest, Pearce crossed to Rodari who headed over on 68 minutes.
Hinshelwood made his final two changes straight after, replacing Barker and Rodari with Ibby Akanbi and Reece Meekums.
But, on the very next play, the visitors took the lead for the fourth time. Stanley was played in behind the Worthing defence and he comfortably slotted past Male into the far corner with some 20 minutes left on the clock.
The Reds pushed for an equaliser in the dying embers. First, Colbran’s attempt to catch the keeper of his line was cleared away.
The Saints’ defence stood strong though and kept out Worthing’s best attempts in a goalmouth scramble in added time.
The referee blew a close to proceedings after the most dramatic of fixtures at The Crucial Environmental Stadium.
Next up for the Reds is their Sussex Senior Cup Quarter Final against Crowborough Athletic on Tuesday night.