Below-par Worthing lose at home to Casuals

Rebels midfielder Matt Axell
Rebels midfielder Matt Axell

Worthing Football Club’s winless run in Ryman League South Division increased to three games when they lost 2-1 at home to Walton Casuals this afternoon.

Rebels, without the suspended Omar Bugiel and injured Lloyd Dawes, failed to get going in the first half against a blustery wind and trailed 2-1 at the break. Ben Pope headed Worthing into an early lead but goals from Scott Day and Quincy Rowe gave Casuals the half-time advantage.

Casuals had Rhys Paul sent off for two bookable offences on 80 minutes and Rebels then finished strongly but were unable to find an equaliser.

The defeat sees Worthing drop a place to fifth, only two points ahead of Hastings who are just outside of the play-off places.

Rebels keeper Rikki Banks comfortably saved efforts from Jake Nicholson and Day before Worthing went ahead after just five minutes.

Will Hendon released Ira Jackson down the right and his cross perfectly picked out Pope to head home from five yards.

Despite taking the lead, Rebels lost possession too easily in the early exchanges and the visitors had another opportunity on 12 minutes when Day’s header released Gabriel Odunaike in a decent position but he scuffed a weak effort straight at Banks.

Casuals again went close on 18 minutes when Banks failed to hold a cross and Odunaike was first to react but could only shoot straight against Worthing’s keeper.

The goal Casuals had been threatening came on 20 minutes when Yousouff Bamba skipped past Hendon down the left and crossed for Day to powerfully head home from six yards.

The visitors then had two opportunities in as many minutes to go ahead shortly afterwards. Corey Heath brilliantly blocked Day’s goalbound shot on 23 minutes, before Omar Folkes, stretching at the back post, could only head wide from a teasing right-wing cross.

Rebels continued to struggle against the strong wind and Casuals’ Paul was booked for trying to punch the ball into the goal, before he blazed over after Worthing failed to clear a free kick on 29 minutes.

At the other end, Jackson fired into the side netting after a neat turn on 31 minutes, before Walton’s Nicholson saw a free kick rebound off the outside of a post three minutes later.

The visitors went ahead in the first minute of injury-time at the end of the first half when Nicholson’s free kick was headed forward by Paul, struck the top of the bar and was then nodded home from a matter of inches by Rowe.

Rebels pressed for an equaliser before the half-time whistle blew but captain Steve Metcalf fired into the side netting from a tight angle following a corner.

After the break, it took until the 55th minute for Worthing to register an effort at goal but Pope sliced well wide of the near post after a lay-off from Hendon.

Ryan Quirke then had a low effort easily saved by Casuals keeper Brannon Daly on the hour, before Hendon had a fizzing strike pushed away by Walton’s stopper. From Brannon O’Neill’s resulting corner, Metcalf had a curling shot cleared off the line.

Rebels continued to huff and puff and Corey Heath fired an ambitious 25-yard strick straight at Daly on 77 minutes.

The visitors were reduced to ten men two minutes later when Paul, earlier booked for deliberate handball, was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Metcalf.

Rebels had appeals for a penalty waved away when O’Neill went down under a challenge, before Pope had an effort parried away by Daly on 82 minutes.

Worthing had an excellent chance to level on 84 minutes when Sparks pulled the ball back from the left but Quirke could only fire straight at Daly from 15 yards. O’Neill’s 30-yard free kick was then kept out by Daly, who then also pushed behind Pope’s skidding low shot as the clock reached 90 minutes.

Worthing went even closer in the first minute of injury-time when Quirke’s 20-yarder was brilliantly saved, Metcalf’s rebound was blocked and Pope’s follow-up was deflected over.

Hendon then had a side-footed effort deflected just past the far post and Rebels sent up keeper Banks for the resulting corner, which was headed over at the back post by Heath as the visitors held on for all three points.

WORTHING: Banks; Metcalf, Elphick, Heath, Sparks; Hendon, O’Neill, Axell, Quirke; Jackson, Pope. Subs: Newton (Jackson 72), Edwards (Axell 81), Piper, Watson, Fagan. Att: 527.

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