Report By Gareth Nicholas
Worthing set sail for the River Medway to take on Aylesford with Becs Bell and Katie Young coming in for Charlie Carter and Chloe Winchester, who were joined in the dugout by the returning Maddie Hotson, in place of the injured Keavy Price.
Kicking off ten minutes late under increasingly leaden skies, it was the Reds who caught their opponents cold by surging ahead inside the opening sixty seconds. In fact, around forty were showing when Rachel Palmer, up from the back early doors, found herself on the edge of the penalty area to fire home.
Captain Gemma Worsfold might have made it two when she swivelled and shot shortly afterwards but goalkeeper Sade Rider held on.
Four minutes later though, the lead was doubled courtesy of Georgia Tibble’s left-sided corner picking out the familiar figure of Ellie Russell and, despite her header being saved by Rider Super Sammy Quayle was on hand to notch for the fourth game in succession.
The side netting offered the hosts a brief respite from a constant tide of Red coming towards them, as Young’s inch-perfect pass through the inside-right channel released Hayley Bridge. If Worsfold couldn’t quite connect, Katie Cooper could.
Atlanta Mclean cleared off the line, amidst scenes that had now become reminiscent of Escape from Atlantis; a torrential downpour making everyone thankful for 3G.
Unaffected by the Olympic rowing team going past, Tibble and Russell resumed their successful partnership via the flag-kick of the former being met by the dome of the latter, to make it three.
A twenty yard effort at the end of a Sophie Humphrey pirouette forced a parry, with home number ‘1’ Sade very much riding on the storm, as she continued to keep the score down.
Although there was little she could do to prevent Quayle doubling her tally by stooping to conquer at the back stick and bury a Bell cross to it, just shy of the half-hour mark.
Humphrey and Rider round two also went in the ‘keeper’s favour; this time pulling off an even better stop to deny the Worthing striker after she’d hit the ball on the run via a partially-cleared corner.
Five minutes before the break, Worsfold majestically swept in a fifth when she dispatched Bridge’s right wing delivery first time for a classy finish.
Goal maker almost became goal taker, as Bridgey worked her way into a good position, only to blast over the bar.
HB then nearly saw her cross converted by hat-trick seeker Quayle, after she’d left Natasha Hurst trailing in her wake to set-up the opportunity.
That wasn’t quite that for the opening period though, thanks to Bell placing a first-time finish of her own high into the net, to round off a burst into the box and square ball by Palmer.
Grey skies had given way to blue as the second-half got underway but little changed on the pitch; Palmer nearly teeing-up Bell once more, barely two minutes after battle had recommenced.
A soaked crowd, finally starting to dry out, didn’t have to wait much longer for the Guests from the West to extend their already handsome advantage. Tibble beating Rider all-ends-up by way of a twenty-two yard screamer.
Palmer’s assists were beginning to tot up when her byline pullback led to substitute Niamh Andersson depositing a long-ranger to create a grateful eight, before fellow replacement Emily Linscer got herself caught under a ball to the far upright, emanating from the same source.
Once, twice, three times frustrated became the order of the day for the equally unfortunate Humphrey, due to the Kent-based club’s woman between-the-sticks producing her finest piece of work yet, as Sade rode to the rescue again. Clutching on to Soph’s distance-defying drive.
Talking of driving, Tibble moved through the gears to engineer an opening for another sub in the form of Hotson, who got away from Becky Burnham, only to see her attempt deflected over the top by Skipper Alex Witham.
Undeterred by the mountain they clearly had to climb, Aylesford threatened to upset the apple cart when Hannah Corlett wriggled free to escape the close attentions of Charlie Carter. Keen to extend her run of clean sheets to a fourth game, Lauren Dolbear ensured the matter went no further.
The width of the crossbar was all that separated Quayle and the match ball, with Linscer kept out by a blue and white striped shirt on the rebound, approaching the final ten.
That particular creation derived from the reliable source of Tibble, prior to Palmer doing likewise in carving out a case for Linscer to plead mitigating circumstances, as a touch by Quayle inadvertently resulted in ‘Em’ sidefooting fractionally the wrong side of the opposite upright.
Take two and no mistake on this occasion; Palmer the provider and Linscer the delighted recipient, slotting home at the aforementioned apparatus.
Proceedings gradually drew to a conclusion but not without Hoston drilling wide from distance and Lincser’s lob deserving a fairer denouement, in the final act of a breakaway attack.