WORTHING Football Club were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Walton & Hersham in the Ryman League South Division this afternoon.
Ben Pope gave Rebels the lead on 26 minutes but Walton levelled through a controversial penalty five minutes before half-time.
Rebels started the match brightly and could have been ahead after just 35 seconds but Curtis Gayler sliced his shot well wide from the edge of the penalty area after Lloyd Dawes’s run down the left.
Brannon O’Neill struck a post with a curling 20-yard free kick a minute later, before Omar Bugiel got through one-on-one after five minutes but was denied by the legs of Walton keeper Gary Ross.
Worthing were then awarded a penalty on seven minutes when Ben Pope was tripped by Martin Beard but O’Neill’s spot-kick was saved by Ross.
Pope fired over on 11 minutes, before Rebels went ahead on 26 minutes. Pope raced on to a through ball and got his foot to the ball, before he was clattered into by Ross. Rebels’ striker was quick to his feet, though, and slotted into the empty net from 25 yards.
Gayler had a well-hit drive stopped by Ross on 30 minutes, before Walton almost levelled on 37 minutes but Tarome Hemmings’s lob dropped just the wrong side of the post.
The visitors did level three minutes later when they were awarded a penalty. The spot-kick was awarded by the assistant referee for handball against Will Hendon, after referee Adrian Tranter had originally appeared to turn down Walton’s appeals.
Hendon was booked for his protests and James Cottee sent Jack Fagan the wrong way from the spot to level the score.
Rebels still almost went into half-time ahead but Pope lobbed the ball just wide on 42 minutes.
The visitors went close to going ahead six minutes into the second half when substitute Joshua Cover’s shot trickled against a post, before Rebels cleared the danger.
O’Neill curled a free kick well over from 20 yards on 71 minutes as Rebels struggled to create any clear chances at the start of the second half.
Fagan did well to deny Walton substitute Andrew Mensah when he burst through one-on-one and fired a low shot towards goal on 73 minutes.
Rebels felt they should have had a penalty on 76 minutes when Bugiel was brought down by Ross on the edge of the area, with a free kick awarded after the referee spoke with his assistant. O’Neill’s cross into the box was cleared by the Walton defence.
O’Neill then fired a 20-yarder towards goal on 82 minutes but Ross was equal to his effort and then got up quickly to grab the rebound with Jaz Rance about to pounce.
Worthing went close again a minute later when sub Harry Smith’s chip from 20 yards clipped the top of the bar.
Rebels sub Joe Gromett was just unable to get on the end of Rance’s cross two minutes from time, before Dawes fired well wide from 12 yards just seconds later and he then dragged a shot wide from 25 yards in the final minute.