No pressure on Rebels as they head into play-offs

Brannon O'Neill and Jordan Maquire-Drew celebrate. Picture by Mike Gunn (Studio IV)

Brannon O'Neill and Jordan Maquire-Drew celebrate. Picture by Mike Gunn (Studio IV)

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Worthing Football Club joint boss Gary Elphick says his side will go into the play-offs with no pressure on them.

Rebels sealed their place in the top five of the Ryman League South Division with a 1-1 draw at Guernsey on Saturday as Faversham lost and Hastings drew.

They will play Hythe in the one-leg semi-final tie on Tuesday but the venue is stil to be decided. Rebels will finish third and have home advantage if they better Hythe’s result on Saturday but the Kent side will be at home if they win away to Faversham at the weekend.

The play-off final will take place at the home of the highest-finishing play-off side on April 30. Dorking will host Corinthian Casuals, Hastings or Faversham in the other semi-final after securing second place on Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Guernsey.

Elphick said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to get a play-off place. When Jon (Meeney) and I took over as joint managers in the summer, we wanted to progress on from last year and we’ve managed to do that.

“We’re at home to Ramsgate on Saturday, so will look to go out and put on a show for the fans as we want to finish the season well.

“We’re not too bothered if we play at home or away in the play-offs. We’d like it to be at home but we’ve got the third best away record in the league, so we’d still have every chance if we have to go away.

“With games like this, it’s just about who turns up on the day. There’s no pressure on us, other teams have much bigger budgets than us, so we’ll go out and view it as a free shot. We’re under no pressure, so will just go out and play our football.”

Rebels went close inside 30 seconds at Guernsey when Harvey Sparks had a shot blocked and Ben Pope’s rebound flashed across goal.

Brannon O’Neill had a free kick saved by Chris Tardif and Omar Bugiel fired narrowly wide, before Rebels keeper Rikki Banks made a great save to deny Ryan-Zico Black.

Banks then also denied Ross Allen, before Pope dragged a shot across goal at the other end.

In the second period, Tardif helped over a shot from Sparks, before Rebels were denied by the crossbar and a clearance off the line following a set-piece.

Worthing went ahead on 66 minutes when O’Neill burst into the penalty area and slotted home.

Guernsey levelled when Dave Rihoy headed home ten minutes later, before Banks pushed away a Craig Young free kick three minutes from time as the points were shared.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s home game with Ramsgate, Elphick said: “With the game on Saturday and then the play-offs on Tuesday, we’ll manage the squad to make sure everyone will be on top of their game.

“We want everyone fresh and ready to go for the games we have coming up.”

WORTHING: Banks; Hendon, Heath, Elphick, Metcalf; Newton, O’Neill, Bugiel, Sparks; Maguire-Drew, Pope. Subs: Piper (Newton 85), Jackson, Axell, Fagan.

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