Worthing miss out on FA Cup first round following defeat at National League outfit Ebbsfleet United
Worthing's run in the FA Cup was ended at National League outfit Ebbsfleet United this afternoon.
Luke Coulson's first-half double, along with an effort from captain Dave Winfield and Will Miles' own-goal after the restart, was enough to take Fleet to a 4-0 fourth round qualifying triumph at Stonebridge Road.
Worthing made the trip to two-divisions higher Fleet knowing a win would see them reach the first round proper of English football's oldest cup competition for the first time in 19 years but it was clinical Ebbsfleet who came through, pocketing Â£25,000 in prize money in the process.
The visitors were wasteful in front goal, missing a number of chances, with Fleet sealing a spot in the first round having looked far from convincing and Worthing will view it as an opportunity missed.
Worthing made three changes from the side that beat Kingstonian at home in the league last time out. Albanian goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou came in for his debut in place of youngster Aaron Relf, while Will Miles and Danny Barker replaced Ricky Aguiar and the cup-tied Zack Newton in the starting line-up.
The visitors looked in no way overawed at a team two-divisions higher than them in the league pyramid, making an impressive start.
Worthing were comfortable in possession and created the first real opening. Ollie Pearce found pockets of space early on, on this occasion he slid David Ajiboye clear but Maltese international Sam Magri made a fine recovering tackle after 17 minutes.
Ebbsfleet failed to get going in the opening half-hour, though, Worthing were unable to take advantage. Worthing had another glimpse of goal on 28 minutes but were unable to convert. Aarran Racine's raking pass picked out Ajiboye, who took the ball superbly in his stride only for his cross to flash across the face of goal.
Fleet had offered very little in attack but they took the lead four minutes later. Corey Whitely's scuffed cross found Luke Coulson and he was on hand to poke home.
The opener seemed to spark Ebbsfleet into life, appeals for a penalty came less than two minutes later when Coulson went down in the area following a challenge from Joel Colbran with referee David Rock waving play on.
Worthing were made to pay for a second time four minutes before the break as Fleet doubled their advantage. Just as with the opener, Whitely and Coulson combined. The former's cross was poked home with ease by Coulson to put Ebbsfleet in command.
Frontman Pearce failed to find the bottom corner with an effort in first half stoppage time as the visitors, for all their efforts, trailed 2-0 at the interval.
Dave Winfield fired the visitors a warning from the previous corner, which was tipped over superbly by debutant goalkeeper Perntreou, before Fleet got a third seven minutes after the restart.
Ebbsfleet skipper Winfield was left unmarked to head home from a corner to all but put the game past Worthing.
The visitors could have given themselves a lifeline 25 minutes from time but once again a good opening was not converted. Pearce did everything right going clean through, up until the finish, when he poked wide.
Fleet further extended their advantage nine minutes from time when substitute Myles Weston's cross was put through his own net by Miles.
Worthing were handed a chance to grab a consolation they deserved as Ajiboye went down under a Winfield challenge in the area on 86 minutes, with a penalty given. But Ajiboye's tame spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore to cap a frustrating afternoon for Worthing.
WORTHING: Pertreou; Colbran, Racine, Miles; Parsons, Barker, Budd, Crane; Ajiboye, Pearce; Kealy. Subs: Relf, Rents, Ovenden, Clarke (Budd, 80), Aguiar (Kealy, 56), Rance, Skerry (Parsons, 77).