WORTHING Football Club’s four-game winning league run came to an end at home to Hastings United on Tuesday evening.
A win would have taken Rebels into the Ryman League South Division play-off places but the visitors led 2-0 after just 16 minutes and then wrapped up the three points in injury-time, after Lloyd Dawes had got Worthing back into the game.
Despite a few latecomers in their starting line-up, the visitors were out of the blocks quickly and went ahead as early as the sixth minute. Sam Crabb was allowed to pick out the unmarked Ollie Rowe at the back post and he headed past Rikki Banks from a tight angle.
Worthing almost struck back four minutes later but Will Hendon’s powerful toe poke was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Josh Pelling.
Former Rebel Billy Medlock doubled Hastings’ lead after 16 minutes as Sam Cole’s cross found Tyrrell Richardson-Brown, who nodded down for the striker to slot home from close range.
The visitors had chances to extend their lead further, with the best of them on the stroke of half-time through Sam Adams. His shot cannoned off Brannon O’Neill’s shin, over Banks and onto the crossbar, before being scuffed clear by Corey Heath.
Worthing began the second period sluggishly as Banks showed good hands to gather a Medlock free kick just two minutes into the half. Rebels started to find their feet, with O’Neill’s free kick requiring a brave header from the experienced Sean Ray in the 54th minute.
It was a dubious 58th minute corner that set up a lively final 30 minutes where Dawes got across his marker to head powerfully home at the near post in a continuation of his rich scoring form and the cue to turn up the local support’s volume.
The hosts’ hopes of redeeming something from the game suffered a blow with 15 minutes remaining as Hendon received a second caution of the half, with a cynical foul following a soft first yellow.
Rebels had Banks to thank for keeping their hopes alive four minutes later with a miraculous save from Richardson-Brown’s close range effort.
The referee decided to level up the numbers by sending off Cole after an innocuous challenge, but it was Hastings who created the next opportunity as Matt Axell was robbed by Richardson-Brown, only to be thwarted by a strong Banks right hand, before Steve Metcalf hacked clear off the line.
The final minute saw Dawes jink around three defenders before forcing Pelling into another good save, before Rebels’ hopes were dashed in the third minute of stoppage time as substitute Jack Harris’s shot was initially saved by Banks but cannoned off the striker before trickling in.
Worthing joint boss Jon Meeney bemoaned his side’s first half performance and said: “Consistency is key for us this season. I can’t fault the lads in the second half.
“We changed it at half-time to put Hastings under a bit more pressure with a 4-4-2 and add some impetus in the final third. We’ve been on a good run, we can now go on another.”
Rebels travel to Herne Bay on Saturday and are then at Walton & Hersham on Tuesday.
WORTHING: Banks; Hendon, Metcalf, Heath, Sparks; Quirke, O’Neill, Axell, Overton; Bugiel; Dawes. Subs: Newton (Quirke 56), Pope (Overton 88), Morey, Piper, Buckland.
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