WORTHING United Football Club survived a second-half onslaught from local rivals Lancing as they held on for a point in an enthralling local derby on Saturday.
Rock-bottom United had keeper Tom Betts to thank for their point, as he kept out a Dan Turner penalty and dealt with virtually everything the home side threw at him in the 1-1 draw.
For United, whose two previous visits and wins at Culver Road had arguably cost Lancers the Division 2, and then Division 1 titles, it was only their fourth point of the campaign, but the resilience and determination on display on Saturday will offer them hope of a remarkable escape.
Memories of Mavericks’ recent victories at Culver Road were again revived when they went ahead in just the second minute. Josh Sutcliffe’s long throw found Chad Milner, who volleyed home from close range.
They almost doubled their lead straight away when Tom Stillwell, making his debut after dual-signing from Worthing, had his header tipped over by Joel Harding.
Lancers levelled on 15 minutes when Shaheen Sadough slotted home from a tight angle after Adam Hunt’s free kick.
From then on, Lancing were dominant. Sadough fired into the side netting and had a effort ruled out for offside, Hunt and Wayne Joseph saw their efforts well saved by Betts and Sadough had an effort cleared off the line by Stillwell.
In the second half, Sadough, Joseph and Hunt all had opportunities, before Turner’s spot-kick was saved by Betts after Wayne Joseph had gone down under a Richard Maymon challenge.
Lancers’ Darren Boswell then twice went close, while, from a rare United foray forward, Tom Kirwan fired into the side netting.
In a frenetic end, Lancers’ Sam O’Regan, Leo Day and Hunt all had efforts scrambled away, before United’s Mark Burgess was sent off for a late lunge on Hunt in the final minute.
Lancing manager Martin Gander said: “I’m pleased we didn’t lose as the longer it stayed at 1-1 and the more we dominated, the more I could see them nicking it, which is what usually happens against them.”
United assistant manager Martyn Rea said: “We’re into a mini-season of 22 games now. We still believe we can survive, we’ve got some new faces who are willing to dig in and scrap, and we just have to keep believing.”