Rebels back in play-off spot despite slip at Chipstead
WORTHING Football Club returned to winning ways on Tuesday night at Sittingbourne to climb back into the play-off places, ahead of the visit of fellow promotion-chasers Whitehawk on Saturday.
After tasting defeat for just the second time this season, going down 1-0 against Chipstead on Saturday, Rebels boss Chris White called for a response from his players, to which they obliged with a dominant 2-0 victory at Sittingbourne.
Road closures and incidents meant a seven-and-a-half hour round trip on Tuesday night, but with three points in the bag from Jamie Brotherton’s first-half strike and John Lansdale’s exquisite free kick on the 70-minute mark, it was worth it for Rebels.
White said: “We played really well. The pitch up there is awful but we controlled the game from start to finish.
“To get a clean sheet was pleasing and we could have had three or four more goals, to be honest.
“We were up against it number wise as Billy Franks (work) and Steve Davies (ill) pulled out during the day and it was too late to get anyone else in.
“They had a good result on Saturday as well, so it could have been tough, but I was pleased as we controlled and bossed the game and I don’t think Alan (Mansfield) had a save to make in the second half.”
After a delayed 8.20pm kick-off, due to an accident on the M20, Tom Manton’s cross was headed back across goal by Lansdale for Brotherton to nod the opener into the bottom corner after 30 minutes.
Rebels also had three penalty shouts waved away, two for challenges on Steve Metcalf in the first half, and another in the second for handball.
But it was Lansdale’s fine free kick which sealed the match, leaving White in awe, and he quipped: “It was unbelievable, reminiscent of David Beckham’s free kick against Greece.”
On Saturday, two early Mansfield stops denied Chipstead, but the Worthing stopper had no chance in the 12th minute when Callum O’Shea struck with an unstoppable 30-yarder.
Despite battling back into the game, Rebels’ chances were at a premium and the closest they came to an equaliser in the first half was a long-range Darren Budd effort.
Manton sent a drifted header wide after the break as the Chipstead back four held strong for long periods. The two best chances of a Rebels leveller fell to Davies, with one effort bundled off the line and cleared.
White said: “I was disappointed in the way we started. We had said to them that Chipstead would come out at 200 miles per hour and emphasised to the lads that we must match them with the work-rate and we didn’t.
“To be honest, if it wasn’t for Alan we could have been three down in 15 minutes. After that, we worked our way into the game, but if I’m honest never really looked like scoring.
“It’s disappointing as the two or three chances we did get to try and rescue something, we didn’t even test the keeper.”
Worthing now host Sussex-rivals Whitehawk on Saturday, before a trip to Whitstable on Tuesday.
Defender Glen Woodburn is still doubtful, while striker Ryan McBride is suspended, and White said: “It’s a big game, they all are at the moment because of the position we are in.
“Obviously, they are going well but it would be nice to turn them over, especially as we should have beaten them at home last season.”
WORTHING v Sittingbourne: Mansfield; Piper, Kennett, Hurley, Metcalf; Lansdale Gedling, Budd, Manton; Brotherton, Lawley. Subs: Huckett, Charles (Budd, Lawley 70), Pulling (Piper 80), Clack, Fagan.
v Chipstead: Mansfield; Piper, Kennett, Hurley, Metcalf; Lawley, Manton, Budd, Gedling; Davies, Brotherton. Subs: Lansdale (Gedling 65), Huckett (Manton 75), Charles (Piper 80), Pulling, Franks.