Adam Hinshelwood made three changes to the side that lost in the Emirates FA Cup at the weekend, handing striker Jordan Adeyemi his full Worthing debut in the process.
Danny Cashman and Ollie Pearce both returned to the Rebels’ starting eleven, as Bailey Smith dropped to the bench, while Michael Klass and Jake Robinson missed out on a place in the matchday squad.
It was a quiet and slow start to proceedings with Worthing fairly ponderous in possession against a stubborn Havant & Waterlooville side. Ricky Aguiar’s strike from distance was the only real ‘chance’ to note inside the first 30 minutes.
The quiet and slow feel to the game took a sudden turn on the half-hour mark, when Hinshelwood made full use of a break in play to feed instructions to his team.
From that point, the Rebels created chance after chance until the end of the first half. The first of those fell to the debutant Adeyemi after Joel Colbran’s cross found him free at the far post. He was denied by a fantastic stop from Ross Worner.
Two minutes later, Worthing were in again, this time Ollie Pearce slid a pass through to Danny Cashman who was again denied by Worner.
Odei Martin Sorondo found Pearce with a defence-splitting pass soon after, but the angle was difficult for Pearce this time, and Worner was there to prevent him from scoring.
The persistent pressure proved too much for the Hawks at the back, though and Worner was unable to save the day when Nick Wheeler’s pinpoint cross found the head of Kane Wills who couldn’t miss from close range to give the Rebels their opener.
Chances for Wheeler and Pearce followed before the conclusion of the half, but the Hawks’ star of the match, Worner, made another two good saves.
It was another fairly quiet start to proceedings in the second half with no real chances in the first quarter of an hour.
As Hinshelwood searched for a little more control in midfield, he replaced Aguiar with Jesse Starkey on 57 minutes.
The Rebels’ second change was made some five minutes later, when Joan Luque replaced Adeyemi on the wing.
On 68 minutes, the Rebels got the decisive second goal, doubling their advantage. A corner, swung in from the left, led to a scramble in the area where the ball fell to the feet of Pearce. The frontman took no prisoners in firing the ball into the bottom right corner.
Less than five minutes later, Pearce had a chance to bag another, but Worner was there again to make a good save.
The Reds made their final change on 73 minutes, when Greg Luer replaced Wheeler.
The substitutes nearly combined when Luque swung in his cross to the near post where Luer’s header was flicked just over the crossbar.
Hinshelwood’s side rallied late on with the two-goal advantage behind them. First, Joe Felix struck a fierce effort towards the near post which rose just wide of the upright.
Next, it was Cashman who capitalised on a loose pass to play Luque in on goal. Luque saw his shot saved before going for the rebound which deflected high into the air. With Worner already on the floor, the keeper decided to sit and wait for the ball to come down and in that time, Odei was running onto it. Odei won the race but was deemed offside in a bizarre passage of play!
Colbran played a glorious ball over the top to find the run of Luer soon after, but the forward was denied by a superb recovery tackle at the back from the Hawks.
Worthing did eventually get their reward for the relentless late pressure. Colbran again with a fantastic long pass, this time finding Cashman who took it in his stride. Despite the tight angle, Cashman fired in to the far post with immense power to add the third and final Worthing goal.
It wasn’t all plain sailing from there, Roco Rees was called into action and made a brilliant reflex save to deny Jack Jebb in added time.
It was back to league action and back to winning ways for the Reds as they climb back into the play-off places in the National League South.
Next up is another trip to the West Country for Hinshelwood’s side as they take on Weston-Super-Mare.