WORTHING United Football Club were denied a crucial win in their battle against the drop on Tuesday evening when an injury-time goal completed Shoreham’s dramatic comeback from 5-2 down to draw five all.
This was a game from an Alan Hansen nightmare as spectators stared in disbelief at what was a crucial relegation battle for both sides.
Things did not bode well for United as they were left without a goalkeeper due to various work commitments, with only young midfielder Dean Gilmour offering to don the gloves.
Had a regular, more experienced stopper been available, the result could have been different, but as United manager Tobi Hutchinson said after the game, no blame should be attached to young Gilmour.
Straight from the kick off, Gilmour flapped at a back pass and had Aaron MacMillan netted with one of the two chances he was gifted, the final result may have been different.
But it was United who went ahead after eight minutes as George Jones ghosted past a static Shoreham defence to head home.
The visitors equalised almost immediately as Gareth Green’s corner found MacMillan at the near post and he levelled the scores just four minutes later.
Mavericks’ second saw the best football of the game as Dean Brookes played a delightful ball through the Mussels defence that found the on-rushing Lucas Mann, who coolly took the ball around Ronan Callaghan to restore the hosts’ lead on 33 minutes.
With four minutes to go until half-time, some comical defending saw three United players leave the ball for each other, allowing Green to fire home from 18 yards and level the scores once more.
But, on the stroke of half-time, Alex Gathern had a shot deflected into the path of Mann, who nodded home from six yards to send the home side in a goal to the good.
The second half continued in the same vein as Callaghan spilled a long-range effort, only to find Jones there to prod home the rebound on 52 minutes.
And, just two minutes later, the lead was increased as Ben Putland rose highest from a Tom Chapman free kick. Had Alex Thompson not missed a sitter at the back post after 55 minutes for United, the game would have been won for the hosts, but three minutes later, Green gave Shoreham hope with another long-range effort inside Gilmour’s left-hand post.
With 11 minutes to go, Dean Smith slotted home from Gilmour’s flapped attempted save to make it 5-4 and the comeback was complete in the fourth minute of added time as sub Clay Lamont poked home from a yard.
United manager Tobi Hutchinson said: “With the goalkeeper situation I’d have taken a point before the game, but having gone three goals up, it’s really disappointing.”
United moved out of the bottom three with the point and travel to relegated St Francis on Saturday.