JACK FAGAN was the hero as Worthing Football Club booked their place in the Sussex Senior Cup final with victory over holders Whitehawk at Culver Road this evening.
Rebels’ stopper netted a spot-kick, while also saving efforts from Danny Stevens, Sergio Torres and Lukas Santos Rodrigues as Worthing came out 5-4 winners on penalties, after it finished level at 2-2 following extra-time.
The game proved to be an even affair with Rebels matching their two-divisions higher National League South opponents.
Ben Pope fired them into an early lead before strikes from Danny Mills and Jake Robinson saw Hawks go ahead.
Rebels kept going, though, and Lloyd Dawes levelled things up late on.
After a tight extra 30 minutes Fagan was the hero with three fine saves and a strike of his own.
Rebels were handed a great chance to go ahead on 12 minutes when Ben Pope was bundled over by Juan Cruz Gotta and a penalty was awarded. The usually ever reliable Brannon O’Neill’s spot-kick was straight down the middle and Craig Ross easily saved with his feet.
That miss did not prove costly as Worthing were ahead seven minutes later. O’Neill saw a thunderbolt crash off the bar but with the ball still alive around the area Pope expertly curled into the top corner.
Rebels continued to press forward and a great piece of skill from Omar Bugiel nearly saw a second on the half hour. He brought Harvey Sparks’ ball under control before cutting inside only to see his fierce strike saved down low by Ross.
Hawks began to get themselves into the game and they were level five minutes before half-time.
David Martin beat Hendon down the left and his cross found an unmarked Danny Mills to head home from close range.
That goal sparked Pablo Asensio’s side into life and a snapshot volley from Robinson flashed just wide three minutes later.
Hawks took that momentum from late in the first into the second and they went ahead on 51 minutes. Martin’s corner was flicked on by Cruz Gotta and Jake Robinson was on hand to volley home from five yards.
Mills should have had a second and his side’s third four minutes later. Substitute Junior Morias’ ball found Mills four yards out but somehow the forward headed against the bar.
Rebels kept pushing and should have levelled proceedings with 15 minutes left. Sparks’ pinpoint cross found Pope, though, he side-footed just wide from close range.
Worthing continued to search for the equaliser and Bugiel so nearly got it on 83 minutes. His thunderous strike from the edge had Ross beaten but flashed just wide.
Rebels efforts were rewarded just a minute later, though, Pope beat the onrushing Ross to a loose ball before cutting back for Dawes who took a touch and fired low into the bottom corner.
With the game now in extra-time Mills continued to threaten. The forward met a Martin cross but Fagan was on hand to make a fine stop with his right leg two minutes into the thirty added.
That was as good as it got up until seven minutes from the end. Rebels broke away and Bugiel’s crisp strike tested Ross down low he parried straight to Zack Newton who blazed wide.
The sides could not be split in extra-time and penalties were forced to decide a winner and Rebels came away victors.
WORTHING: Fagan; Hendon, Heath, Elphick, Metcalf; Dawes, O’Neill, Axell, Sparks; Bugiel; Pope. Subs: Newton (Axell), Banks, Quirke, Hards, Piper.