Worthing manager Adam Hinshelwood praised his team’s effort after a nine-man Reds side lost 4-3 to Lewes at Woodside Road on Saturday.
The Worthing boss was happy with the shift his side put in as they pushed the visitors hard despite both Ricky Aguiar and Darren Budd being sent off.
He said: “I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of the effort and commitment the players have shown. Even with nine men I think we were a hard team to play against.
“[Lewes] were struggling to get to grips with our shape and, especially at 11 v 11, if we were a bit calmer in their half and the final third we probably should’ve had some more chances really.
“One thing we’ve shown this year is we keep going until the very end and they’ve done that again today. They’re a really young group and they’ve had to learn quickly, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the effort the lads had shown today.”
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Hinshelwood was especially impressed with striker Ollie Pearce, who curled home a free-kick in the 35th minute to level the game at 1-1 after James Hammond opened the scoring for the visitors by lobbing Kleton Perntreou from the halfway line.
Pearce then scored an injury-time penalty to snatch a late third for the Reds minutes after Callum Overton scored Lewes’s fourth, bringing Pearce’s goal tally to three in his last two.
Hinshelwood said: “I’ve said before he could be a real important player for us this season and he could go on a run and score a lot of goals for us between now and next season. My opinion hasn’t changed.
“He’s really confident at the moment and I thought him and Callum Kealy as a two in the second half were a real handful.”
Reds manager Hinshelwood also praised 16 year-old Jasper Pattenden, who made his first start and assisted Jalen Jones’s 71st-minute header to bring Worthing to within one goal of Lewes after Charlie Coppola and Luke Blewden made it 3-1 to the visitors.
He said: “I thought he was excellent - a real talented boy.
“He’s been performing well in our Academy so that’s what we like to do at this club. If the feeling’s right and he’s performing then he gets an opportunity and he definitely took it. I’m really pleased with how he’s gone about his debut.”
However, more injury trouble came Worthing’s way on Saturday as captain Aarran Racine, David Ajiboye, and Danny Barker were all forced off with hamstring injuries, not to mention suspensions for Aguiar and Budd.
Hinshelwood was pessimistic concerning the prospects of any of the injured trio being able to play in Tuesday night’s Bostik League match against Dorking Wanderers at Woodside Road.
He said: “I can’t see any of them being available for Tuesday night, so that’s about 7 or 8 injuries again. Just when you get one or two back, you lose three or four the other way - it’s just how it seems to be at the moment.”