Injury-hit Worthing crash out of Velocity Trophy

James Crane. Picture by Marcus Hoare
James Crane. Picture by Marcus Hoare

A disappointing Worthing side lost 3-1 to Merstham at Woodside Road on Tuesday, knocking them out of the Velocity Trophy.

James Crane’s penalty gave the Reds the lead in the first half, but two scrappy goals and a pearler from Walter Figuiera sent the visitors through to the quarter-finals and extended Worthing’s losing streak to three games in a row.

An accident on the M23 delayed kick-off until 8 15pm - the visitors didn’t even warm up before the match.

Worthing boss Adam Hinshelwood made three changes from Saturday’s 1-2 loss to Bishop’s Stortford, including handing youngster Luca Cocoracchio his first start.

Despite their bad journey it was Merstham who almost stunned Worthing early, former Red Kershaney Samuels swiping a free-kick just wide of the post.

Neither side dominated in the early stages but again Merstham came close, Calum Davies’s low drive denied by James Crane.

But when Merstham gave away a penalty after a penalty box clash, Crane seized the chance and buried it, handing the Reds a 20 minute lead.

Minutes later Kleton Perntreou prevented a certain Merstham equaliser, sticking out a leg to stop the twisting Walter Figueira’s shot.

After the visitors were shut out for most of the first half, captain Tom Kavanagh smashed a 42nd-minute equaliser in off the crossbar after some penalty box confusion to send both teams into half-time on equal terms.

Merstham didn’t take long to take the lead, the ball deflecting off of Davies and Cocoracchio into the net in the 51st minute.

The Moatsiders dominated the pitch as play resumed, constantly hitting dangerous crosses across the box.

It could’ve been three for the visitors had Cocoracchio not blocked Tayshan Hayden-Smith’s close-range shot.

But unfortunately the young defender was forced off in the 66th minute clutching his face and adding to Hinshelwood’s injury worries.

After that goalkeeper Perntreou was given plenty to do, including tipping over a dangerous curling shot from Figueira.

Walter Figueira’s 81st-minute shot proved too much for the Greek-Albanian, perfectly placed to ricochet in off the post, doubling the visitors’ lead.

Worthing now face a tough tie at Tonbridge Angels in the Bostik Premier Division on Saturday - something Hinshelwood will have to tackle with a very stretched squad.

Worthing: Perntreou, Parsons, Rents ©, Ovenden, Crane, Cocoracchio (Clarke), Meekums, Aguiar, Kealy (Skerry), Starkey, Rance (Pattenden). Subs: Budd, Clarke (Cocoracchio), Mthunzi, Pattenden (Rance), Skerry (Kealy). Att: 202