FA Youth Cup First Round Proper Thu 2 November Meadowbank Stadium
Dorking Wanderers
  • Albert (90+5')
  • Cowling (87')
  • McLelland (86')

Despite all the weather warnings, the game went ahead as scheduled, with both sets of players initially seeming hyped up for the occasion. This early rambunctiousness ebbed away, though, as the teams began to recognise that this was going to be a close contest. Each side probed and prodded at the other, but clear-cut chances were hard to come by – Jack McLelland and Stan Berry coming closest for Worthing, while Dorking had a couple of opportunities themselves, neither causing too much concern for Kristen Murphy in the Rebels goal.

Each of the previous FA Youth Cup ties this season had been played in unpleasant weather, so it was no surprise when the rain arrived for the second half. The conditions appeared to galvanise the Worthing lads as they started well – dominating both possession and territory, the blue-shirted Rebels kept Dorking penned into their own half, restricting them to infrequent counter-attacks. Just after the hour mark, Dorking’s number 8 picked up his second booking of the evening, and the game began to get more stretched. If anything, however, the hosts started to look more of a threat despite being down to ten men – the action oscillated wildly from box to box, but it still looked as though one goal would be enough to settle matters.

With less than 5 minutes of normal time to play, Zac Jeanes and Evan Hoarty combined to good effect down the right flank, Evan’s cross finding Jack who poked the ball home from close range. Any notion that this was the decsive goal was soon dispelled, sadly – Dorking responded immediately, forcing a corner which the Worthing defence collectively failed to deal with, Cowling reacting quickest, his stabbed finish drawing the home side level. Perhaps concerned about the prospect of playing an extra thirty minutes with only ten men, Dorking didn’t settle for a draw, and in the 5th minute of added time, Albert worked himself into a pocket of space inside the Worthing box, and fired across Murphy to seal the hosts’ progress into the next round. Cue delirium amongst the Dorking support, and despondency for the travelling contingent.

Perhaps this will prove a salutary lesson for the lads, both in terms of closing out a game, and of the necessity to convert your chances in a close contest – Dorking took their opportunities, Worthing didn’t, and thus we depart this year’s competition.