WORTHING Football Club eased to their fifth successive Ryman League Division 1 South home win on Saturday with a 2-0 success over local rivals Burgess Hill.
Hillians had beaten Rebels in the last three meetings between the sides, including a 6-1 victory at Woodside Road in the Championship Manager Cup in October, but Worthing never looked back after taking the lead after just 78 seconds.
They then dominated large periods of the game and only wasteful finishing prevented them from enjoying an even more comprehensive victory.
Skipper-for-the-day Tom Manton, with regular captain Tony Timms out suspended, shone in his more defensive role playing just in front of the back four and had, arguably, his best game in a Rebels shirt. Rebels boss Chris White put him there to stop Hillians playmaker Steve Harper from getting too much of the ball and it worked a treat as Worthing played 4-5-1 rather than the usual 4-4-2 home formation.
The win has got Worthing to within six points of Hill, who occupy the last play-off position and Rebels have two games in hand. But to have a chance of reaching the play-offs for a fourth successive year, Rebels, as White knows, will have to improve their away form as they have won just one of 11 matches on the road this season.
At home, though, Worthing are a completely different animal and will feel they can beat anyone in the league.
Their opening goal on Saturday was one of real quality. Terry Dodd fed the ball out wide to Tom Lawley on the left-wing and his pinpoint left-footed cross was met by the onrushing Callum Saunders, who powerfully headed home from 10 yards for his eighth goal of the season
Worthing then had two penalty appeals turned down and Dodd was denied by Hillians keeper Joel Harding when through one-on-one with 11 minutes gone.
Rebels keeper Tony Di Bernardo then did well to push behind a Harper free kick, which was missed by everyone, but Worthing always looked the more dangerous.
Harding kept out Lawley’s close-range shot when the winger tried to beat him at his near post on 27 minutes and Mike Huckett had an effort ruled out for offside four minutes later after Harding parried Dodd’s shot.
Dodd then failed to convert three more opportunities before the break and Saunders looped a header over from six yards.
Dodd sliced an 18-yarder well wide at the beginning of the second period before Worthing got their second on the hour.
Manton fed the ball out to Steve Metcalf on the left wing and he pulled it back for Luke Gedling to powerfully sidefoot home from 10 yards. Harding got a hand on the shot but not enough to keep it out.
Di Bernardo made an excellent reaction stop to keep out a Danny Curd header with 10 minutes left as Hillians enjoyed more of the possession in the last few moments, but Rebels comfortably saw out the game.
WORTHING: Di Bernardo; Lansdale, Beda, R.Timms, Metcalf; Saunders, Gedling, Manton, Huckett, Lawley; Dodd. Subs: Pulling (Huckett 67), Fenelon (Dodd 86), Townsend, D.White, Charles. Att: 218.