Worthing leave it late to beat Cheshunt
Table-topping Worthing continued their fine run of form with a 2-0 victory over nine-man Cheshunt at Woodside Road.
After remaining level for 75 minutes, goals from Ricky Aguiar and Lloyd Dawes sealed the win for the Mackerel Men, who remain five points clear at the top of the Isthmian Premier.
The previous meeting between the two sides was a tight affair, with Worthing coming out as 2-1 winners at Theobald's Lane courtesy of a late Lloyd Dawes brace.
Both sides came into the tie in fine form. A resurgent Cheshunt had won three of their past four league games, while Worthing showed no signs of letting their fantastic run slip, having been unbeaten in the league since October 5.
The first chance of the game fell to Jasper Pattenden after some fantastic work on the wing by Reece Meekums. Meekums opened up some space on the right hand side and whipped in an inch perfect cross from deep, curling the ball past the last defender straight into the path of Pattenden, but the young winger diverted it wide from point blank.
The visitors had a good chance to open the scoring through Mo Camara. Cheshunt won a free kick in a promising position, and the resulting cross landed at the feet of Camara in the six yard box, but the defender couldn't adjust quickly enough and he skewed the ball wide.
Meekums looked the most potent threat on the pitch throughout the first half, consistently finding dangerous positions down the right hand side and delivering inviting balls into the box.
Worthing opened up a great deal of good opportunities in the first period, winning half a dozen corners and keeping the pressure on the visitors. The final piece of the puzzle remained elusive however, the Mackerel Men just unable to make it count in the final third.
The hosts almost found themselves ahead after the half hour mark, as a Ricky Aguiar corner floated towards the far post and almost crept in, needing a goal-line clearance from a Cheshunt defender to keep the score level.
The first period ended all square, with few clear cut chances for either side. The hosts looked the more dangerous side of the two, especially through Meekums and Joel Colbran combining down the right flank. Cheshunt did however show a lot of promise in the attack, and maintained a high press to keep goalkeeper Carl Rushworth on his toes.
Worthing's commitment to passing out from the back didn't falter, despite strong pressure from the Cheshunt attackers and the visitors' high defensive line. The Ambers displayed a more direct style of play, and looked to attack with pace.
The second half was barely seconds old before its drama began to unfold. Taylor Miles, who had picked up a booking in the first half, made a foul in the middle of the pitch and the referee did not hesitate to pull out a second yellow. A long half was in wait for the visitors, now down to ten men.
Cheshunt had to adjust after this, and understandably dropped their defensive line and looked to slow the game right down. The second period started at a slow pace as a result, with The Ambers looking to see the game out.
The first real chance of the half came through Meekums on the hour mark, displaying some spellbinding footwork to beat three men on the edge of the box, but his powerful drive flew just wide of the far post.
The pressure soon began to mount on the Cheshunt goal. Danny Barker went agonisingly close from a corner, who saw his powerful header deflected up on to the crossbar.
The situation worsened once more for the visitors, as they found themselves down to nine men with 20 minutes to go. Mark Hughes put in a heavy, mistimed challenge on Ollie Pearce, and the referee went straight for his red card.
After a long, long wait, Worthing finally had their breakthrough. Aguiar hit the ball first time from 20 yards, driving a powerful low strike towards the goal. Keeper Harry Girling looked to have it under control, but the ball slipped through his legs and Worthing took the lead.
Substitute Lloyd Dawes had an excellent chance to bag Worthing's second goal. A weak backpass from Sean Cronin landed just in front of Dawes, who picked the ball up, rounded the keeper, and shot from a very tight angle, which was destined for the net were it not for a last-gasp clearance from Diallo.
As it turned out, Dawes had to wait just a moment longer for his goal. He stroked home a deft header from the resulting corner to double the host's lead, and put the game beyond any doubt with just five minutes to play.
The game had ended as a contest by that point, the Cheshunt players looking drained and out of ideas. Girling was kept on his toes all the way to the final whistle, with Worthing pushing for more.
The referee blew his whistle and signalled the end of the game, sending the home fans into raptures as they celebrated yet another win at Woodside Road. The Cheshunt players sunk to the floor, defeated; they will feel hard done by, after working so hard to neuter Worthing for 90 minutes and holding their own for the majority of the game.
Adam Hinshelwood's men maintain their five point gap at the top of the table, after fellow title-chasers Hornchurch and Folkestone were also victorious.