WORTHING Football Club were left to rue a five-minute spell midway through the second half of their 3-1 Isthmian League Cup defeat at home to higher-division Carshalton Athletic on Tuesday evening.
The visitors struck three times during that spell to turn the game around after Ryan McBride had neatly given Rebels a 11th-minute lead from Shaun Charles’ pass with his ninth goal of the season.
Worthing started brightly for the opening 20 minutes but, from then on, it was the Dean Ruddy show as Rebels’ keeper made numerous saves to keep his side ahead.
Ruddy’s heroics began on 24 minutes when he made an outstanding double save to keep out Paul Vines’ shot from six yards and then Sonny Ayres’ rebound from just two yards. Justyn Roberts and Vines, twice more, were again denied by Ruddy before half-time.
Carshalton upped the pressure as the second half wore on and, after Ruddy had denied Dean Lodge, and Lodge headed against a post from close range, the visitors drew level on 63 minutes.
Billy Crook had too much time and space on the edge of the area and drove home, low into the bottom corner.
David Ray rose highest to head home Crook’s corner to give Carshalton the lead four minutes later and Ray made it 3-1 within a minute with a fizzing 25-yarder. McBride and substitute Darren Budd had efforts saved as Rebels finished strongly but, by then, the damage had been done.
Rebels boss Chris White said: “I’m disappointed with the goals we’ve given away. We were great in the first 20 minutes and in the last 15 minutes but, in between, we didn’t move the ball quick enough and wanted too many touches.”
Worthing travel to Southern League Bashley in the FA Trophy first-qualifying round on Saturday. Paul Kennett will return from a groin injury and Tom Lawley is back available.
White said: “We’re looking forward to it as we’re in good form, even though we lost tonight, and it’s a winnable game.”
If the game is drawn, the replay will be at Woodside Road on Tuesday evening.
WORTHING: Ruddy; Pulling, Hurley, Franks, Piper; Charles, Lansdale, Manton, Gedling, Brotherton; McBride. Subs: Budd (Lansdale 72), Woodburn, Hunt (Franks, Gedling 82), Clack, Metcalf. Att: 120.