Report by Gareth Nicholas
Worthing were almost exactly as they were at kick-off at Fulham last week, with Keavy Price coming in for the benched Becs Bell the only change to the starting eleven. Charlie Carter returned to the squad, taking the place of Assistant Manager Kelly Newton amongst the subs.
Both sides resumed league duties after securing their places in April’s League Cup Final, ironically against each other, seven days ago.
A tight first-half got underway thanks to a long pass along the right flank by Katie Young putting Price in the clear, only for her cross to be intercepted by Rachel Ahern just ahead of Gemma Worsfold.
Neat skill by the ever dangerous Nicha Dyett then saw her flick the ball over the head of Young but her final shot lacked the power to trouble Lauren Dolbear.
The possession stats became pretty even-stevens though Dartford were creating the better opportunities.
None more so than twice in barely a minute; Ahern found Shauni Griffiths on the right who got the better of Rachel Palmer before eventually drawing a fine one-handed save out of Dolbear.
Followed shortly afterwards by Dyett seizing on hesitation by Palmer and laying inside to Emily Vaughan. She immediately passed onto Griffiths, now popping up on the left, who returned the ball to Vaughan to hit the outside of the post.
Reds responded when Dolbear picked out Becs Bell around halfway and, following a neat 1-2 with Price, the Speed Queen took on and outpaced Georgie Davis; her final delivery going all the way across the penalty area, allowing Georgia Tibble to flash one wide, fractionally outside it.
Vaughan threatened once more, on the end of a byline cross from Griffiths that had been provided courtesy of Adele Pearce dispossessing Price to set her free, only to divert the wrong side of the upright, close in.
Further miscommunication at the back nearly resulted in the same player profiting again but, this time, her effort whistled across the face of goal.
The hosts came just as close to edging in front themselves, when Palmer played over the top of Alicia Gibbs for Tibble to break away and ultimately tee-up Captain Worsfold to adjust her body superbly, flick a header goalwards, though suffer the frustration of seeing it land on top of the net rather than in it.
It took a matter of seconds after the break for both teams to carve out a good opening, in the same passage of play.
Dolbear was out smartly to prevent Vaughan doing significant damage with a Penfold pass that originated via a well-worked throw-in routine. However, the baton was soon picked up by Chloe Lelliott, who drove forward and let Bell test the resolve of Davis again. A burst of pace concluding with a cut inside and curl into the hands of ‘keeper Paris Smith, outside the box.
Midway through the second period, the deadlock was mercifully broken, due to one that Tibble and Ellie Russell had made earlier, on numerous occasions in fact this season.
GT floated her corner towards the back stick where ER had peeled away to nod in from close range.
Buoyed by this, a misplaced midfield pass led to Tibble providing the room for Bell to charge forward, pursued by Ahern who did enough to force our number fourteen away from goal. Not for long though, as Becs swivelled and created havoc; demanding quick thinking by Smith, who punched clear in time to stop Worsfold making it two and breathed a sigh of relief as Chloe Winchester could only blast into the side-netting, on the follow-up.
Eight minutes remained when Darts decided to swap goalies, although not via the usual medium of a substitution. Pearce donning the gloves as she swapped places with Smith.
Not that it made much difference, with the ‘new’ netminder picking the ball out of the net almost as soon as the velcro had been fastened on her wrists.
Katie Cooper, on for Lelliott, sidestepped Penfold, exchanged passes with Price then looped a high cross into the eighteen yard area that Tibble hit first time on the volley, onto the post. While gasps of awe and agony reverberated around most of Woodside, ‘Tibbs’ preferred not to stand and admire her work, reacting quickest to emphatically gobble up a second bite at the cherry, giving Pearce no chance.
A third might showed signs of greed, not that Worsfold had any such thoughts when she wriggled free inbetween replacement Charlie Torry and Ahern before lifting an ambitious attempt over the top, a fair way out, on the angle.
Lastly, deep into time added on, ‘Gem’ received from Russell in the centre circle, sending sub Emily Linscer on her way, giving licence to fellow ‘newbie’ Carter to arrive on the scene and drill a long-ranger that Pearce got safely behind.