WORTHING Football Club got their season up and running over the bank holiday weekend with two wins, which was capped by victory over title-favourites Maidstone on Monday.
Having thrashed Rye 5-1 in the FA Cup on Saturday, Rebels recorded their first Ryman League Division 1 South win of the season over hotly-tipped Maidstone on Monday.
A professional and mature display cumulated in second-half goals from Scott Tipper and substitute Nick Sullivan to get their campaign started, after they had began the season with two losses.
After a tight first-half in which Rebels had two penalty shouts turned down and Jamie Brotherton missed a one-on-one chance, Rebels made two key substitutions, which changed the game.
This spurred them on to a victory, which, although at times was not pretty, was executed perfectly.
Worthing manager Chris White said: “The first half was quite edgy as neither side wanted to make a mistake. We said at half-time the braver side would win the game and that is what we were.
“We had made a couple of changes from Saturday, Nick Sullivan was outstanding, but two games in three days is a lot.
“The guys did well, Matt Reece and Nick, when they came on, were very lively, as was Scott Kirkwood, and changed the pace of it – we have real options on the bench, which is great.
“This season, we have only had one bad 45 minutes and that was the first half against Three Bridges, outside that we have done well.
“One bad half and people thought it was some sort of crisis!”
Brotherton had a golden opportunity and should have put Rebels ahead on 16 minutes when he caught centre-back Tommy Osborne trying to turn on the ball at the back. He ran through one-on-one but side-footed the ball almost straight at Deren Ibrahim, who made a comfortable block.
Much of the half was fairly even from then on as neither Mansfield or the visiting stopper had a real save to make, although the latter saw more of the ball.
Rebels did have two penalty shouts turned down in the closing stages of the first half. The first saw Tipper flick the ball over his head to Mike Huckett, whose initial run did look from an offside position, and the midfielder ran through before getting his legs tangled with Ryan Cooper on 38 minutes.
The man in the middle, David Spain, was not interested at all, and his reaction was similar three minutes later when Huckett poked the ball across goal and it struck Nicky Humphrey directly on the arm.
Maidstone started asking questions after the break but the Worthing back four stood strong, particularly the left-sided duo of Chris O’Flaherty and Matt Hurley.
White freshened things up just after the hour mark as Reece and Kirkwood joined the attack. And it paid dividends three minutes later as Reece was bundled over on the left and O’Flaherty’s deep free kick was nodded in by Tipper at the far post.
Maidstone should have levelled on 71 minutes when Michael Phillips squared for Shaun Welford, but he mis-timed his swing at the ball from six yards.
Mansfield, who had been a bystander for much of the game, showed fine concentration to save all three points in the 86th minute. A long ball over the top set Welford away and he drilled a shot towards the top-right corner, but Mansfield, at full stretch, pushed the ball away.
And, with a minute left, Sullivan sealed the win as Tipper slotted him through and he finished well across goal into the far corner.
In injury-time, Sullivan could have hit a second but fired agonisingly wide of the post.
Rebels travel to Dulwich Hamlet in the league on Saturday.
WORTHING: Mansfield; Metcalf, Hurley, Woodburn, O’Flaherty; Gedling, Kennett, Brotherton, Huckett, Lawley; Tipper. Subs: Kirkwood, Reece (Huckett, Brotherton 62), Sullivan (Lawley 77), Daniel, Kessack. Att: 264.