It was East Sussex vs West Sussex and an all National League South tie in the second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup at Priory Lane, with Eastbourne Borough hosting Worthing.
Despite Worthing starting the game brightly, it was the hosts who had the first big chance of the game in the 12th minute.
A defence splitting ball from former Rebel: Jack Paxman, in midfield found Shiloh Remy one-on-one with Roco Rees. Unfortunately for the forward he lost composure and poorly blazed over the bar.
The Mackerel Men hunted for the opener with Nicky Wheeler looking dangerous down the left flank in the opening half an hour, however it was Borough who came closest to opening the scoring.
Rees was sharp on the half hour mark to deny Yaser Kasim from close range with a sensational stop. From the resulting corner, Worthing’s number one was on call once more; tipping over the bar to deny Remy.
Worthing responded to Eastbourne’s pressure immediately and took the lead for themselves in the 35th minute.
No surprise as it came from Wheeler’s threatening left flank, when the winger stood up a perfect cross for Jake Robinson to nod home ahead of the goalkeeper in his first game for over a year! What a moment for the 37-year-old forward on his return from a horrific injury.
Rees’ inspirational performance continued; denying Zak Emmerson’s low-driven attempt in the 40th minute, helping the visitors into the break one goal to the good.
The second half was a lot less frantic than the first, however it had a similar storyline – Rees denying the Sports.
Kasim and Emmerson were both denied by the in-form keeper, either side of a well-working Worthing move down the right flank in the 59th minute.
Kane Wills was at the heart of the slick attack, as he played a quick one-two with Greg Luer before bursting into the penalty area and unleashing a wild effort at goal. Disappointingly for the Rebels’ faithful behind the goal, it was unable to trouble Ben Dudzinski.
The remarkable Rees stood up bravely in the 79th minute; smothering the hesitant Emmerson who looked set to level the scoring after the Brighton & Hove Albion loanee raced through on goal, after a slip from Joe Rye.
Substitute Bailey Smith was effective for Worthing in the latter stages; rinsing left back Archie Procter on a number of occasions.
In the dying embers, Smith latched onto a ball down the flank however his prodded effort was denied by Dudzinski, the rebound fell for Sonny Fish who agonisingly chipped over the bar.
Procter could do nothing to prevent Smith’s blistering pace which was helping Worthing to push Eastbourne back into their own defensive third. The left-back received a yellow card in the 88th minute for barging the winger off the field.
However, it was Rees who would steal the headlines. In stoppage time he produced a terrific triple save to preserve Worthing’s lead – words cannot describe the level of what was one of the best goalkeeping moments you will ever see!
After Rees’ heroics and an even later goal-line clearance from skipper: Aaran Racine the full-time whistle blew and Hinshelwood’s men could breathe.
A gritty, hard fought for 1-0 victory away at a strong Eastbourne Borough side sees Worthing through to the next round of the FA Cup!