Adam Hinshelwood made six changes to his starting eleven from last week’s defeat at Maidstone United in the Vanarama National League South.
Luca Woodhouse and Cameron Tutt returned in defence. Kane Wills replaced Odei Martin Sorondo in midfield. While Bailey Smith, Greg Luer and Jake Robinson all returned to bolster the Rebels in attack.
It was the visitors who started the brightest at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium, with a handful of half chances in the opening quarter of an hour.
The Hawks made it count on 17 minutes as Charlie Walker converted coolly from the spot. Goalkeeper Mitch Walker played a long ball in behind the Rebels’ defence which Tutt headed back to his goalkeeper Roco Rees. Rees fumbled and was consequently dispossessed by Ben Pope who he brought down in the box.
Bailey Smith proved to be the one real threat for the Reds in the first half as the Hawks struggled to defend against his pace. Stefan Wright and Luca Cocoracchio were both booked for fouls on the forward.
On 34 minutes, Charlie Walker looked destined to double his tally but for Joe Felix who stuck out a leg to deny him.
The Reds never really troubled Mitch Walker in the Hawks net, but the keeper did see yellow for wasting time on a free kick towards the end of a first half that left a lot to be desired from the Rebels.
The Rebels looked far more comfortable in possession in the second half creating a couple of half chances from Woodhouse’s cross and Ricky Aguiar’s free-kick before the hour mark.
Hinshelwood made a double change on the hour mark as the side searched for the all-important equalising goal. Tutt and Wills made way for Michael Klass and Danny Cashman.
The Rebels got their reward immediately after as substitute Klass linked up with Greg Luer who stood one up to the far post where Jake Robinson was there to finish in emphatic style. Making his first home start in 13 months, Robinson lined up an overhead kick which found the top right corner from some 8 yards out!
Some ten minutes later, Robinson doubled his, and Worthing’s tally. This time, he found the top left corner from the penalty spot. It was Joe Felix who tried his luck from range and Mitch Walker could only parry his shot into the path of Smith who was brought down in the area.
The Reds made their final change immediately after the goal as Luer was swapped with Joel Colbran in a move to shore things up at the back.
The livewire Felix beat his man on the edge of the area on 78 minutes to create an opening at goal but he fired just over.
Felix was there again some five minutes later, this time he crossed low towards the far post where Robinson was so nearly there to turn it in for his hattrick.
Into added time and the Reds worked a glorious move which saw Cashman loft a cute ball into Felix who squares to Robinson but was denied by a fantastic last-ditch tackle!
Cashman was unleashed in behind the Whitehawk defence just before the final whistle and he cut back, waiting for support and that support came in the form of Aguiar. The midfielder looked destined to score after the squared ball but saw his effort deflected wide.
A much-improved performance in the second period from the Rebels and a good platform to build on going forward.
They’ve earned themselves a place in the hat for the Fourth Qualifying Round draw which takes place on Monday afternoon.
The Reds return to National League South action next week as they welcome Truro City to the Sussex Transport Community Stadium.