Returning Zack Newton got the winner as Worthing Football Club came from a goal down to beat nine-man Wingate & Finchley in their Bostik League Premier Division clash at Woodside Road this afternoon.
Trailing to Sean Cronlin's controversial first half penalty, Kieron Pamment and Newton - appearing for the first time since rejoining from Metropolitan Police - both netted to bag a 2-1 victory for Adam Hinshelwood's team.
Tempers boiled over in the closing stages and Wingate were reduced to nine men. First, last-man Jake Eales felled Newton and was shown a straight red card. Visiting skipper Ahmed Rifat was then dismissed for a nasty lunge at Worthing captain Darren Budd - both dismissals coming in second half stoppage-time - as the home side sealed a first win at Woodside Road in three matches.
Having started the day in 22nd, a win for Hinshelwood's men was enough to move them up a place above Harlow Town - who were beaten by Kingstonian - to go 21st.
Worthing - who were in action for the first time since a 3-0 league defeat at Brightlingsea Regent on January 13 - included returning quartet Matt Boiling, Jesse Starkey, Zak Newton and Reece Meekums from the start for suspended Alfie Young, Dave Herbert, Jimmy Wild and Alex Parsons from the team that were beaten last time out.
Wingate goalkeeper Shane Gore was first to be called into action as Worthing made a bright start. Sam Rents' short corner found an unmarked Starkey on the edge, whose fierce drive was tipped over by Gore. Midfielder Joe Clarke then forced Gore into another stop - this time low to his left - all inside the opening three minutes.
Wingate - fresh from winning at leaders Dulwich Hamlet in their last outing - looked more of a threat as the half wore on.
Centre-half Sean Cronlin's volley was superbly tipped wide by goalkeeper Lucas Covolan at full stretch. Reece Beckles-Richards, who cleverly got in behind, was denied by Covolan before 15 minutes were on the clock.
Worthing had Covolan to thank once more after an error by returning defender Matt Boiling. Goalkeeper Gore's long-ball was misjudged by Boiling, with Affy Obafemi getting in behind, though, his chipped attempt was stopped by the onrushing Covolan.
Beckles-Richards wasted another glorious Wingate chance ten minutes before the break. The ball deflected into the path of the frontman but Covolan was out quickly to smother his strike.
Worthing were so nearly ahead less than three minutes later. Another well-worked corner routine picked out Starkey who was denied by a superb goalline clearance by Nathan Mavila.
It looked as though it would be all square at the break, before referee Benjamin Knight awarded Wingate a questionable penalty after 43 minutes. Centre-back Boiling appeared to make a fair recovering tackle on Mark Charles-Smith, only for referee Knight to point to the spot. Cronlin slammed the penalty home to give the travelling side a one-goal lead at the interval.
Worthing made an uninspired start to the second half, before Zack Newton sprung them into life 13 minutes after the restart. Newton beat three Wingate defenders on a fine solo run, then found Kieron Pamment but he fired straight at Gore.
From the resulting corner Pamment made up for his miss, glancing Rents' corner past Gore with his head.
Wingate were being caused problems by Worthing corners, this time Joel Colbran went close to firing the home side ahead 20 minutes from time. Rents' delivery picked out Colbran - whose diving header went just wide.
Wingate offered very little after the break and fell behind as Worthing completed the turnaround ten minutes from time. Returning Newton cleverly latched onto a pass over the top, cleverly chipped over Gore, held off a challenge and rolled into the empty net.
Newton appeared to be set free for his second of the afternoon, only to be felled by Wingate full-back Eales - who was shown a straight red card.
Tempers boiled over in the dying seconds and Wingate were down to nine men four minutes into second half stoppage-time. Skipper Rifat's nasty lunge on Worthing captain Darren Budd saw him shown a straight red.
WORTHING: Covolan; Colbran, Boiling, Rents; Newton, Clarke, Budd, Sparks; Pamment, Starkey; Meekums. Subs: Sisimayi (Meekums, 45), Rance (Starkey, 73), Herbert, Pope, Wild (Pamment, 84).