Eastbourne salvaged a point with a goal in the last minute after a strangely below-par performance by top-of-the-table Worthing. Having played poorly, and yet still taking a 4-2 lead into the last 10 minutes, Worthing were undone by a crackerjack strike by Eastbourne’s young No. 10 followed by a tame goal with barely a minute left to play.
Score: Worthing 4 Eastbourne 4
- Ahmed (2)
Edmondson stepped in for Holloway at the post-match conference and gave a withering assessment of the afternoon’s performance “To be honest,” he said, “there are very few positives to take away from a game like that. We passed badly, we marked badly, we were profligate in front of the goal and we lost our heads at the end. However, let’s just draw a line under this – we were awful but still remain unbeaten this year. Everybody can have a bad game – and we hold up our hands, we did. But those 14 players have all proven that they can handle adversity and I know we’ll build better performances as this season progresses.”
Conversely Eastbourne’s captain was ecstatic. “I felt we played well – it was such an open game even when two down we knew we were in with a chance. We just kept pushing and got what I think was a deserved away-point. It’s always hard coming away to Worthing with their vocal support – but a lot of our supporters made the trip so we’re glad we didn’t let them down”
Worthing made their customary steady start probing left and right and for the first 10 minutes and looked, if not sharp, at least good enough to deal with the visitors. But Eastbourne shocked the match to life after 10 minutes with their first strike hitting the backboard.
Worthing’s level dipped after the goal and they started to cough up possession frequently – while in contrast Eastbourne drew confidence from their lead and started to regularly overload Worthing’s defence on the break. Ansell was struggling to get the midfield engine purring and with no midfield dominance Eastbourne looked the more likely team to score next. And they did.
On 18 minutes, they were gifted a second with a nothing ball running through from the midfield. Allan, mistakenly, told Price to step over the ball – however the Eastbourne left wing was sprinting around behind him and got the finest of touches just as the ball was crossing the line.
At this point the men in gold looked set to be humiliated by the division’s supposed whipping boys – but they improved sufficiently in the 2nd quarter to draw level by half time. While the high line Worthing held was creating problems for their own defence, it was also creating numerous opportunities in the Eastbourne D. But Worthing were also working hard to miss gilt-edged chances. Holloway created – and missed – a number of golden opportunities. Sanyo-Merrymaker continued to make the simple complicated, when he attempting to clear the last defender with an aerial rather than a simple pass to new-boy Pease. And Hoy managed to miss almost impossibly from the goal line – the first of an inauspicious hat-trick of misses he achieved in the game.
26 minutes in Worthing got their first, and only, short corner of the match which they duly converted. They turned to Barron for the drag-flick option. He went right and low and the save rebounded out to Watkins who unleashed a quick shot down the middle. As the keeper readied himself, Ramiz cut across the goal and deflected the ball on his reverse stick up, over the keeper and into the roof of the net.
Worthing’s second came just before half-time. After a period of pressure, and with Eastbourne parking the bus, Watkins changed the angle of attack spreading the ball from the left quickly over to the right sideline where Allan was making a typical surging run. Allan made some yards and returned the ball to Watkins at the top of the D who unleashed a first-time howitzer through the crowd and into the net.
After the halftime break it looked as if Worthing would now make a return to the form that got them to the top of the table. They spent the next 25 minutes dominating the match. They continued to miss a number of chances but slotted two of them home to take a 4-2 lead. The first was from Clayton – adapting well to dry land. The second was made by Sanyo-Merrymaker who, eschewing the reverse stick aerial that had let him down in the first half, swept a quick long pass up the left line to Ahmed who cut into the D and made no mistake with his one-on-one versus the keeper.
At the point the game should have been won – but Worthing followed a pattern all too familiar this season with a weak last 10 minutes. With Worthing sitting too deep, Eastbourne first capitalized on their pressure with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the D. And in the edgy final minutes Worthing continually threw away possession in their own half when all they had to do was hold on to the ball. Eastbourne got their equalizer and Worthing had to settle for an unsatisfactory point.
Worthing 4s team : Ramiz Ahmed, Andy Allen, Matt Ansell, Josh Barron, David Clayton, Simon Holloway (Capt.), Rod Horne, Phil Hoy, Martin Northam, James Pearce, Ian Penny, Connor Price (GK), Adrian Sanyo-Merrymaker, Neil Watkins