Nigel Geary hailed his young Worthing United side as they progressed past East Preston in the Peter Bentley Cup on Tuesday evening.
A double from the penalty spot for Matt Hards and substitute George Rudwick’s effort helped United to a 3-1 extra-time success over division-lower East Preston.
With Mike Waller, Reece Batchelor, James McKerhan and Tom Watson all making their full debuts, Geary felt it was a pleasing evening all-round and said: “This game gave me an opportunity to look at a few of the younger guys we have at the club and they showed me what they had to offer.
“To come in, having not trained and not knowing some of my regular starters, I thought they were excellent.
“They (East Preston) are a good side and I have no doubt they will be up the top come the end of this season. We were resilient when we needed to be, then really showed our class in extra-time to come through.”
Both sides cancelled each other out in the first half, although EP felt they should have been ahead at the break.
Tom Lyne’s ball into the box was headed home by Josh Etherington on 21 minutes but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
That killer final pass or a bit of quality in the final third was lacking, before a frantic final ten minutes.
Jack Barnes fouled Hards with a spot-kick awarded eight minutes from the end. Hards stepped up and sent Chris Cook the wrong way as Mavericks looked to have won it. EP’s response was superb and they were level five minutes later. Dominic Taylor was allowed time to turn and shoot in the area, his effort going in off a post.
Taylor’s strike forced extra-time but Mavericks went ahead for a second time on 101 minutes. Jacob Parazo went into a rash challenge on Tom Watson, with a second penalty awarded. Hards stepped up once again, this time going down the middle, to make it 2-1.
Inevitably East Preston pushed for a leveller but they were caught on the counter three minutes from the end. Watson and Rudwick combined, with the latter coolly slotting past Cook to ensure United’s progress.
WORTHING UNITED: Evans; Punter, Stideford, Marsh, Batchelor; Foster, Hards; Waller, Watson, McKerhan; Gritt. Subs: Rudwick (McKerhan), Wells (Gritt), Trigwell.
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