Trophy success shows we’re on the way back – Elphick

Brannon O'Neill scored Worthing's winner at Hemel Hempstead last night. Picture by Marcus Hoare

Brannon O'Neill scored Worthing's winner at Hemel Hempstead last night. Picture by Marcus Hoare

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“This just shows the club is on its way back” – the reaction of Worthing Football Club joint manager Gary Elphick after his side set up a FA Trophy first round clash at Dagenham & Redbridge.

Worthing reached the first round for the first time since the 2003-04 season with a 1-0 replay win at National South Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday evening, which also banked £4,000 prize money, following a 1-1 draw at Woodside Road on Saturday.

They will now travel to National League Premier side Dagenham, who were only relegated from the Football League last season, on December 10 and Elphick said: “It’s a great tie and we’re over the moon.

“Going into the replay, we knew it was a massive chance to get a big cup tie for the club. All of the boys put in a huge shift, I was really happy with all of them from one to 15 and they should all be proud of themselves.

“With Christmas coming up, this is an early present for us and hopefully we’ll take a good following there. Dagenham get crowds of over 1,000, so this will be a great occasion for the club and it’s a fantastic showcase for our players.

“It’s another little landmark in our history, it continues our revival over the last couple of years and it just shows that this club is on its way back.

“Dagenham are a League Two club, really, and I fancy them to get promoted or get in the play-offs. It’s going to be great for our lads to compete at that level.”

Up against Worthing for Dagenham will be Jordan Maguire-Drew, who scored eight goals in six games on loan from Brighton to help the Woodside Road outfit clinch promotion last season.

Elphick said: “Jordan was straight on the phone to Jon (Meeney; joint manager) after we won the replay.

“We built up a great rapport with him when he played here and he played a massive part in helping us to win promotion, so we’ll look forward to seeing him.”

Substitute Brannon O’Neill got the only goal on Tuesday with a close-range finish after excellent work by Kane Wills and Omar Bugiel 12 minutes from time.

Hemel had hit the outside of a post through Jake Robinson shortly beforehand but Worthing comfortably held on after taking the lead, despite Bugiel’s late red card for two bookings.

Elphick said: “After we took the lead, we went up a level and saw it out despite Omar being sent off but it was a shocking decision for his second yellow card.”

WORTHING: Fagan; Boiling, Rents, Wills, Cook, Heath, Dawes, Edwards, Bugiel, Hendon, Sparks. Subs: O’Neill (Dawes 75), Brodie, Hallard, Heryet.

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