Worthing Football Club’s under-21 side emulated the club’s first team by reaching a Sussex County FA cup final on Saturday.
After Rebels’ first team defeated Whitehawk on penalties to reach the Sussex Senior Cup final last Wednesday, Worthing’s under-21 side scored a last-minute winner to beat Haywards Heath Reserves 2-1 in the last four of the Sussex Intermediate Cup.
Rebels will now take on Lewes’s development squad in the final at Culver Road, Lancing, on Tuesday, April 12, after Lewes overcame Pagham Reserves 2-1 on Saturday.
Away to Heath, Rebels fell behind after just nine minutes when a long ball over the top caught Worthing napping and Ben Bacon lobbed Chris Cook.
Rebels equalised on 17 minutes when Jazz Rance went on a run and passed to Jack Hartley, who squared for Matt Hardman to score.
Haywards Heath had opportunities to go back ahead in the first half, while Rance shot wide and Steve Herbert had an effort saved at the other end.
With the game in the balance, Worthing’s Tom Lyne had an effort ruled out for offside as both sides had opportunities to snatch a winner.
Then, in the dying moments, from a corner by Jack Barnes the ball was flicked on by Herbert and Josh Etherington side-footed home from ten yards to spark scenes of celebration among the whole Worthing team. There was just time to kick-off and the referee blew for full-time.
Rebels manager Bob Paine said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the boys and my coaching team to have reached a cup final. It is no more than they deserve for their attitude, application and commitment all season and a final will be a just reward. We didn’t play as well today as we can but we showed real character to come from a goal down and win the match.
“If there is a perfect time to score a winning goal, then it is in the dying seconds as it gave Haywards Heath no time to respond.”
Rebels went back to the top of the Ryman under-21 League South Division with a 2-0 win away to Whyteleafe, who had started the day top, last Wednesday.
In a tight first half, Rance had Worthing’s best chance when he was put through but his lob went just over.
Rebels controlled the second half and went ahead on 52 minutes when Barnes’ free kick found Etherington, who side-footed home.
Worthing doubled their lead nine minutes later when Jacob Parazo’s throw was flicked on by Rance to Barnes, whose first-time shot found the corner of the net.
Rebels controlled the remainder of the game to replace Whyteleafe at the top.
WORTHING v Haywards Heath: Cook; Josh Parazo, Jacob Parazo, Gilbertson, Lyne, Etherington, Hartley, Hardman, Rance, Barnes, Herbert. Subs: Hunter (Hartley 72), Hardman (Brown 79), Witten, Goldson.
V Whyteleafe: Cook; Josh Parazo, Jacob Parazo, Gilbertson, Lyne, Etherington, Hartley, Hardman, Rance, Barnes, Herbert. Subs: Hunter (Herbert 72), Brown (Rance 78), Witten (Gilbertson 81).
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