Sussex Senior Cup Semi Final Wed 26 April Sussex County FA
Hastings Utd
  • Adams (45')
1 (4)
  • Splatt (45+1')
1 (5)
1-1 (4-5 pens)

Male denied Ben Pope, Kasim Aidoo and Jake Elliott to a book a second successive appearance in the showpiece final at the American Express Community Stadium.

It was a dramatic shoot-out during which Darren Budd and Javaun Splatt also missed for Adam Hinshelwood’s men, the latter’s giving Aidoo the chance progress but Male produced heroics to keep Worthing alive.

Having secured a place in the National League South play-offs with victory at Cheshunt just 24 hours earlier, Hinshelwood used the depths of the players at his disposal to make ten changes to the team, Male the only surviver from the win in Hertfordshire.

The most eye catching name on the teamsheet was the return of fan favourite Jesse Starkey, who appeared for the first time this season.

It was a youthful line-up with youngsters Ruben Livesey Austin, Kyle O’Brien, Finlay Chadwick and Ollie Starkey all making the starting eleven, captained by 19-year-old Joe Rye.

The younger Starkey brother could have given his side the perfect start when he found himself one-on-one with Louis Rogers in the opening six minutes but after rounding the ‘keeper good defending by Elliott denied him.

Rogers then rushed from his line to deny Chadwick midway through the half as Worthing continued to create the better chances.

The rest of the half played out with minimal goalmouth action before a late flurry saw two penalties awarded in the space of a couple of minutes.

In the final minute of the half Chadwick felled Sam Adams and the U’s skipper stepped up sending Male the wrong way from the spot.

There was still time for another penalty to be awarded up the other end when James Beresford’s charge into the box was halted unfairly.

Substitute Splatt, who had replaced Cam Tutt early on, cooly converted his spot kick to send the sides in level.

If the first half lacked goalmouth action, the second was even quieter as both sides cancelled each other out and barely any chances of note were created and the tie drifted towards the inevitable shoot-out.

The experienced Budd, making his first appearance of the season, went first for the Rebels but saw his effort strike the post.

He was given a reprieve by Male who saved Hasting’s first kick from former Worthing forward Ben Pope.

Both sides scored their next four kicks, with Dan Thompson, O’Brien, Mo Jammeh and Chadwick all on target for the Rebels.

Having scored from the spot in regulation time, Splatt couldn’t repeat it as the shoot-out headed into sudden death and his tame effort was comfortably kept out by Rogers.

Male’s stop from Aidoo kept Worthing alive and James Beresford confidently converted the Rebel’s seventh spot kick.

Male’s third and final stop from Elliott sparked celebrations as the club booked a return to the final, 11 months on from losing to Brighton & Hove Albion.

They’ll now face rivals Bognor Regis Town at the Amex on Thursday 11th May.