PURE devastation was the scene at Woodside Road on Tuesday evening when Worthing Football Club lost 3-2 in the fifth minute of injury-time for the second successive home game.
After Walton Casuals had snatched victory on Saturday, Ryman League Division 1 South leaders Met Police came from 2-0 down at half-time on Tuesday to score twice in the last three minutes and stun everyone inside the ground.
Rebels players could barely believe what had happened at the final whistle and boss Chris White said afterwards: “I’m devastated.
“For 45 minutes, we were terrific. I said at half-time not to get sloppy but we did and they got back into the game early in the second half.
“For two games running, we’ve been caught on the break when we’ve been attacking.
“It’s a concentration thing as the defence has switched off and we need someone experienced to come in, lead the defence and help fill the gaps as we’re young and naïve at times.”
Worthing had a makeshift defence on Tuesday, with skipper Tony Timms (ill) and Zac Beda (food poisoning) both out, which meant Steve Metcalf partnered Ryan Timms in central defence and Mark Pulling and John Lansdale filled the full-back positions.
White revealed he had asked left-back Jamie Groves to play but he was already committed to playing for Lancing, who he is dual-signed with, at East Preston.
With Tony Timms starting a four-game ban on Tuesday, White has made an approach for former Worthing defender Glen Woodburn and said: “I can’t talk to Glen until next week but he’d talk and organise and would be an asset.”
White added: “We had a great start and got a second goal, which we deserved.
“They got one back and it was then a lack of concentration which cost us.
“We’ve got a run of tough games now, so we’ve got to pull ourselves together pretty quickly.
“We’ll just take things game by game now, rather than setting specific targets. If we get on a run, who knows.”
Rebels could not have got off to a better start when Terry Dodd lobbed home the opener from 22 yards after only 13 seconds.
Police, who had lost just once in the league prior to the game, had a few half-chances comfortably dealt with by Worthing keeper Tony Di Bernardo before Rebels doubled their lead on 38 minutes.
Tom Lawley skipped past a couple of challenges down the left wing and then fired past Police keeper Mo Mann from a tight angle, high into the far corner.
Talk in the Worthing dressing room would have been to keep things tight in the second half but Police pulled a goal back within 50 seconds of the restart when Craig Watkins got through, rounded Di Bernardo and tapped home.
Both sides then missed decent openings to add to the scoring. Rebels’ Callum Saunders curled wide from 15 yards on 49 minutes, while Di Bernardo did well to tip Police’s Steve Noakes header onto the bar with 20 minutes left.
Dodd and Watkins both had one-on-one chances saved by the respective keepers before Police levelled with three minutes left when a cross from the right found substitute Neil Lampton unmarked at the back post and he tapped home.
It was then end-to-end stuff in injury-time and Worthing suffered late heartbreak when Craig Brown got clear down the right and pulled the ball back for Watkins to tap home his second of the evening.
The two defeats have seen Worthing drop to 13th place and Rebels are now winless in four league games and travel to high-flying Leatherhead on Saturday and then Walton & Hersham on Tuesday.
White has ended his interest in Whitehawk midfielder Scott Kirkwood, saying his priorities lie in strengthening the defence.
WORTHING: Di Bernardo; Lansdale, R.Timms, Metcalf, Pulling; Saunders, Gedling, Manton, Huckett, Lawley; Dodd. Subs: Skinner (Saunders 77), Gaskin (Dodd 85), Townsend, Peake, Fernandes. Att: 146.