National League South Sat 3 February Parkside
  • Willard (41')
  • Pearce (68', 90+2')

The Rebels and the Millers were both protecting unbeaten runs as 5th faced off against 2nd in the National League South. Adam Hinshelwood’s side were unbeaten in four coming into the contest having beaten Torquay United last time out, securing their second-placed position in the league table. The home side were unbeaten in their last six in all competitions, including a win against AFC Fylde in the FA Trophy which has set up a Fifth-Round clash against Bromley.

Hinshelwood made just one change to the XI that beat the Gulls last week, with new loan signing Tommy Willard making his debut. Kane Wills made a return to the bench.

Despite being a very watchable contest played at a good tempo, chances were few and far between in the first half at Parkside with the two closely matched sides cancelling each other out.

The first chance went to the home side when Michael Klass was penalised for a foul right on the edge of his own box, providing Arjanit Krasniqi with an opportunity from a dangerous position. The Kosovan midfielder struck a sweet free-kick which Josh Jeffries could only get his fingertips on as it struck the bar. The less said about his follow-up the better, though, as he volleyed way over.

In almost a mirror image of the free-kick at the other end, Worthing had their own five minutes later and it was Klass who earned the decision this time. Ollie Pearce stepped up in a similar position to the one he scored against Chelmsford City last month, but this time his effort was wide of the upright.

The moment of quality that the contest was crying out for came in the 41st minute. Danny Cashman spread play to the right flank to the lively Dylan Fage. The winger held up play before slotting in Joe Felix towards the byline where he picked his head up before crossing, picking out the debutant Willard who tucked it away into the bottom left corner. In back-to-back matches, a debutant had opened the scoring for the Rebels and they held a slender lead at the break.

The second half played out in a similar fashion, with a cagey start meaning little by way of chances for either side.

Sanmi Odelusi struck a fantastic effort from distance midway through the half that went narrowly over the crossbar.

The inevitable moment came two minutes later, as Rebels talisman Pearce found the back of the net for the seventh consecutive match. He took his time after entering the box, but eventually poked it into the top left corner with his left foot to double the advantage.

To shore things up, Hinshelwood made a double change on 75 minutes as Willard’s fine debut was brought to an end, replaced along with Fage. Jake Robinson and Finlay Chadwick were the replacements. Ten minutes later, Ollie Starkey replaced Cashman.

In the dying moments, the Rebels added the cherry on top of the cake as Pearce netted his tenth goal in seven matches from the penalty spot. Garrett Kelly, on a booking, brought down substitute Robinson after he was beaten in the race to the ball and the referee pointed straight to the spot and gave Kelly his second yellow in the process. Pearce stepped up from twelve yards and duly delivered, tucking his penalty away to secure a massive three points on the road for the Rebels.

The result means that the Reds maintain their second-place position in the National League South, and with Chelmsford dropping points, it creates a five-point gap ahead of the Clarets.

Next up for the Rebels is a return to the Sussex Transport Community Stadium, with Dover Athletic the visitors.