UNDER the watchful eye of County League Division 2 promotion-rivals AFC Uckfield’s manager Simon Rowland, Worthing United saw off local-rivals Southwick in a seven-goal thriller on Tuesday night.
Rowland saw United open a four-point gap in second-place ahead of his third-place Uckfield side with their 5-2 win, although they could reclaim second-spot by winning their two games in hand.
It was not as one-sided a game as the scoreline suggests, however, as both sides tried to play football on a surface that was conducive to a passing game.
The Mavericks went ahead after just seven minutes in bizarre fashion. A scuffed Sam Corkhill cross looked no threat to Piers Walsh’s goal until the luckless Aston McLennan stuck out a boot to divert it in to the bottom corner.
United’s advantage was doubled on 28 minutes when a weak punch from Walsh landed at Joe Stokes’ feet and the full-back volleyed home.
Matters got worse for Wickers just five minutes later when Jay Tidey tripped the industrious Dave Herbert in the box and a penalty was duly awarded. Julian Curnow’s cheeky chip from the spot nearly left him red-faced, but Walsh could only push it onto the post and in.
Southwick were hampered by having to make all three substitutions in the first period for injuries and illness, and looked dead and buried going into the break.
Things got worse for the visitors when, after four minutes of the second half, Charlie Oatway skipped around three Wickers defenders and fired home an unstoppable drive from the edge of the area. And it looked like getting even worse as Tidey handled on the edge of the area, but the offence was deemed to be outside of the box.
The visitors pulled one back on 67 minutes when a sweet strike from the impressive Sam Blundell found the bottom corner from range, but a four-goal cushion was restored with 12 minutes left when Curnow’s crossfield pass found Corkhill and he poked the ball past the on-rushing Walsh.
Southwick deservedly got a second when Blundell’s cross found Jamie Stideford, who could not miss with his header from two yards.
United manager Dominic Di Paola was happy with his side’s showing, and said: “I thought we were good for the first hour but then we started trying to play too much at the back. I thought they played well actually but our first-half performance really saw them off.”
UNITED: Phillips; Stokes, Curnow, Young, Francis; Hand, Shelley, Corkhill, Oatway; Herbert, Boutwood. Subs: Rayner (Stokes 55), Keet (Hand 73), Moss (Oatway 80), Shiel, Meehan.