DESPITE having made their best league start in 27 years, Worthing Football Club boss Chris White could not hide his frustration after a last-gasp Burgess Hill equaliser on Monday.
Their thrilling 5-3 win over Walton Casuals at Woodside Road in Ryman League Division 1 South on Saturday had been their third win in as many games – with it their best start since 1984, when Barry Lloyd managed the side.
And, although still unbeaten, they suffered from an injury-time 2-2 equaliser against rivals Burgess Hill, having led 2-0.
Despite seeing his Rebels side climb to third, White said: “If someone had said to me at the start of the season we would have had 10 points from the first 12 available I would have been delighted, but I am twinged with frustration that it could have been 12.
“It’s disappointing as at 2-0 up, we should have seen the game out and should never have dropped points – which is what they are.
“I always feared it would be the toughest game as, on paper, it was the easiest.”
After two headers from corner kicks from Tony Timms and Ryan McBride went just over, the latter raced through, out-paced his marker and smashed home past the goalkeeper to give Rebels the lead.
Burgess Hill were awarded a penalty on 35 minutes, after a ball was drilled at Timms and hit his hand in the area, but Alan Mansfield pushed out the spot-kick.
White added: “It was a little harsh as Tony’s arms were down and it was smashed at him. We could have had one or two ourselves, one for exactly the same thing and one when Ryan was pulled down in the second half.
“But Alan made a great save – he has made a brilliant one in every game so far.”
As Rebels continued to dominate, Tom Lawley doubled the lead when he drove home following a corner on 54 minutes.
Burgess Hill gave themselves a lifeline just over 10 minutes later when Jones Awuah curled home.
Rebels’ Jamie Brotheron struck a post as Worthing pushed for a clincher, but Hillians’ Kit Treager nodded home a leveller four minutes into injury-time from a corner.
On Saturday, Rebels edged an eight-goal spectacular at home against Walton Casuals.
An overhead kick from Brotherton and McBride strike in the second half was enough to give Rebels a victory, after again surrendering a 2-0 lead in a first half, which finished 3-3.
Darren Budd’s strike after a well-worked move opened the scoring on just seven minutes, before a Lawley cross-shot was headed into his own goal by Casuals’ Warren Baxter.
Casuals then drew level through Jordan Cheadle’s free kick and Charlie Ide’s drilled effort on 40 minutes.
Brotherton put Rebels back in front a minute later with a slotted effort from close range, but Casuals levelled before the break when Cheadle struck a well-hit effort into the bottom corner.
After the stunning first half, it was a subdued second period, but Brotherton’s strike on 69 minutes and McBride’s goal were enough to earn Rebels the three points.
White said: “To go two up and let them back into it isn’t ideal, but we had to go at them again and in the end it was a comfortable three points.
“When we play quickly, teams will struggle to touch us. The thing we are trying to get out of people is the importance of making the right decisions and we made some wrong ones in the first half.
“We have emphasised to the players that it needs to be a fortress here, and outside of a 20-minute spell in the first half, where a few things went wrong, we did okay.”
Midfielder Mike Huckett is recovering well from an ankle injury and is hoping to start running this week.
l Worthing are in FA Cup action on Saturday when they travel to Whitstable for a preliminary round match.
After the disappointing showing last year, White said: “I always look forward to it, it’s a fantastic competition, the best in the world, and one we are very privliged to be involved it. We’ll be looking to keep our unbeaten run going.”
Rebels are running a coach to the game, which costs £10 return. Call 01903 239575 for more details.
WORTHING v Burgess Hill: Mansfield; Piper, T.Timms, Hurley, Metcalf; Brotherton, Budd, Slaughter, Gedling, Lawley; McBride. Subs: Manton, Lansdale (Budd, Gedling 61), Davies (McBride 75), Pulling, Franks. Att: 238.
v Walton Casuals: Mansfield; Piper, Hurley, Woodburn, Metcalf; Brotherton, Manton, Budd, Lansdale, Lawley; McBride. Subs: Gedling (Lansdale 67), Slaughter (Manton 78), Murphy (McBride 87), Pulling, T.Timms. Att: 239.