Worthing Football Club ended a five-game winless league run with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home to Merstham this evening.
Captain Kane Wills got the only goal in the 26th minute as a youthful Worthing side finished the match with 16-year-olds Matt Boiling and Luke Brodie along with 17-year-old Jake Heryet, who made his debut, on the pitch.
The first opening of the match came on ten minutes when Brannon O’Neill’s inswinging free kick flicked off a defender’s head and was pushed to safety by Merstham keeper Phil Wilson.
Worthing again went close five minutes later when Zack Newton went on a mazy run and beat several players before he shot just wide of the near post.
Jack Cook, on his return to Worthing, just failed to connect with an O’Neill corner on 24 minutes but the hosts took the lead just two minutes later. O’Neill played a corner back to the edge of the penalty area and Wills crashed home an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Harvey Sparks blazed wide from 20 yards shortly afterwards, before he had an effort blocked when he delayed his shot five minutes before half-time.
Worthing should have doubled their lead just seconds before the break when Newton slipped Lloyd Dawes through one-on-one but he dragged his shot into the ground and the ball went inches past the post.
Merstham’s attacks in the first half were superbly dealt with by Worthing’s young central defenders Matt Boiling (aged 16) and Cook (23) but the visitors livened up after the break.
They made a double substitution at the break and had the first chance of the second half when Charlie Penny got through after a slip by Cook but fired straight at Worthing keeper Rikki Banks.
Merstham continued to look lively and Dan Bennett sent a low shot just wide of the far post from 15 yards on 57 minutes, before Xavier Vidal crashed an effort only just past the goal from 25 yards six minutes later.
Banks then produced an outstanding save to keep out Penny’s close-range header, before he again saved Worthing when he kept out Dan Hector’s close-range effort on 75 minutes.
Worthing introduced Brodie and Heryet in the second half and the latter almost got a late debut goal but was denied by Wilson from a tight angle as Worthing held on for all three points.
WORTHING: Banks; Hendon, Boiling, Cook, Rents; Sparks (Heryet 85), Wills, O’Neill, Edwards (Brodie 71); Dawes, Newton (Axell 78). Subs: Fagan, Piper. Att: 404.
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