Adam Hinshelwood switched the Rebels’ shape ahead of their encounter with the White Tigers, opting for a 3-4-3 formation which, on paper, looked like a very attacking line-up.
Ollie Pearce and Joel Colbran were the two changes to the starting eleven, replacing Kane Wills who dropped to the bench, and Cameron Tutt who missed out on a place in Hinshelwood’s matchday squad.
The first attack brought the first goal at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium and it went the way of the visitors. A Will Dean free kick from the halfway line was hit towards the far post and bounced on its way through to Ed Palmer who finished neatly into the top left corner.
Harvey Greenslade had an opportunity to double the visitors’ advantage ten minutes later when the ball fell at his feet on the corner of the six-yard box. His shot, however, was wide of the far post.
There was more bad news for the Rebels on 22 minutes when Aarran Racine was forced off with an injury after a coming together with Greenslade. Joe Rye came on to replace the Worthing captain.
Rye picked up the first of four Worthing bookings in the first half, less than two minutes after coming on. Ricky Aguiar (29′), Luca Woodhouse (42′) and Pearce (45′) were the other Rebels carded in a frustrating first period.
Pearce had the ball in the back of the net for Worthing on the half-hour mark following a corner. But, referee Eugene Robinson had blown his whistle already for a Truro free kick.
Five minutes later, Worthing had a big shout for a penalty after Jake Robinson’s shot appeared to be blocked by the arm of Sam Saunders. Despite the Reds’ protests, the referee signalled for a Worthing corner.
The best chance of the half for the Rebels came on 38 minutes when Rye picked out Pearce with a ball over the top. Pearce brought it down before squaring to Greg Luer on the edge of the area who will want to forget his effort at goal which he skied, high over the bar.
Towards the end of the half, Matt Buse found space on the halfway line and spotted Roco Rees off his line. It was a credible effort from such a distance but went just wide of the upright.
The Reds went into the interval trailing for the third consecutive game and left themselves a lot of work to do to put right what was a slow and flat first-half performance.
The Rebels started the second half far brighter, looking composed and controlled in possession, allowing the creative players to pull the strings. Early on, Aguiar chested the ball down to Robinson some 25 yards out to set up the forward, but he hit his effort wide.
It wasn’t long before they were back on level terms, though. Bailey Smith was found in space on the right flank by Pearce. Smith picked out Joe Felix with a low cross and he turned in past James Pardington.
Five minutes later, the Rebels had another penalty appeal turned down after Nicky Wheeler got tangled up with Connor Riley-Lowe. Despite the Worthing appeals, the referee gave the decision in favour of the visitors.
Soon after, the Reds were reduced to ten men. Luca Woodhouse was sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Greenslade. At first, it looked like he might get away with it, with the referee not realising he was already on a booking. But, after checking his book, Woodhouse was shown red.
Hinshelwood responded with a change, bringing on Odei Martin Sorondo for Robinson.
Despite the disadvantage in numbers, the Reds remained on top. There were a couple of chances for Pearce and one for Wheeler before the Reds eventually took the lead.
Felix’s shot took a deflection into the path of Pearce who was brought down by keeper Pardington as he lined up his shot at goal. Pearce stepped up and bagged from the spot.
After the goal, Smith was replaced by Kane Wills.
Worthing were reduced to nine men on 84 minutes after an innocuous incident involving Felix and Saunders. Felix jumped up to block Saunders’ long ball forward and caught the defender on his landing, unintentionally. Without hesitation, however, the referee reached for his back pocket to send Felix off.
The nine-man Rebels looked like they were going to hold on, but five minutes into added time, Ryan Brett headed in at the far post.
A spirited second-half performance from Hinshelwood’s side and they’ll no doubt feel hard done by having been reduced to nine men. The decision to send off Felix has certainly left a lot of Worthing supporters scratching their heads as they leave Woodside Road this afternoon.
The Reds turn their attention back to the Emirates FA Cup next week, as they welcome Bath City to the Sussex Transport Community Stadium in the Fourth Round Qualifying.