Gary Elphick hailed a memorable victory for Worthing Football Club and said: “If this doesn’t put us on the map nothing will.”
A second half own-goal from Josh Staunton and a Lloyd Dawes strike ensured Worthing came from a goal behind to seal a 2-1 FA Trophy first-round victory at two-leagues higher National League outfit Dagenham & Redbridge.
Paul Benson’s effort five minutes before the interval left Worthing with it all to do, but a fine fightback from the travelling side sealed a memorable victory.
Joint-manager Elphick hailed it as a special day for everyone with the club and said: “It’s a great moment for the board, both George Dowell and Calvin Buckland, if this doesn’t put Worthing on the map nothing will and hopefully this is just a tiny footstep in mine and Jon’s management careers and as a team going forward.
“It’s mine and Jon’s crowning moment as a management duo along with the promotion we achieved last year. I thought we could come and give them a difficult game but to say that and then do it is a different thing and boy did we do it.
“We nullified all kinds of threats and we were unlucky to go in a goal behind. When you’ve got players like Omar Bugiel, Lloyd Dawes and Zack Newton all firing on the counter-attack you can cause a lot of teams many problems and we done that today.
“The defence were terrific aswell, we saw a different side to Jack Cook, Corey Heath, Sam Rents, my back four and goalkeeper defended excellently.”
Elphick’s managing partner Jon Meeney felt it was a ‘complete team performance’ and said: “From 1 to 11 today you’ve seen a complete team performance and we’ve got our just rewards. I’ve not been involved in a changing room like this one, it’s a special group who get on really well on and off-the field.”
Having seen rivals Bognor make to the semi-finals of the same competition last season, Elphick sees no reason why Worthing can’t reach the same stage or go one better and book a Wembley date next year.
He said: “We just want to go as far as we can but first we must secure our league status and it will be criminal if we don’t. On paper we’ve knocked out of the highest ranked teams in this competition away from home, it does speak volumes. We’re going to need luck and everything on our side to get through to the final but after doing what we’ve done today, who knows.”