Male's heroics send Worthing to Senior Cup Final
There was penalty drama as Worthing overcame Hastings United to secure a place in the final of this season’s Sussex Senior Challenge Cup in front of 448 fans at Culver Road last night.
Worthing started off strong with plenty of intensity in their pressing in the early stages of the game while Hastings looked to soak up the pressure and try to hit them on the break.
The mackerel men tried playing passes over the top initially for Modou Lamin Jammeh to chase but the Hastings back-line was able to repel these attempts.
Adam Hinshelwood’s side had two of the biggest chances of the first-half. The first came when Ollie Starkey was played through down the middle and was able to round Louis Rogers in the Hastings goal.
His shot, however, was clawed off the line by Jake Elliot, who was arguably Hastings’ most important outfield player during the 90 minutes. Moments later, Finlay Chadwick rode a couple of challenges as he burst into the box, but Rogers was rapid off his line to smother the shot and concede a corner.
Both teams had to make one substitution each in the first period owing to injury concerns, with James Hull coming on to replace Dave Smith for Hastings and Javaun Splatt coming on for Cameron Tutt.
While Worthing dominated possession and created more chances during the first 45 minutes, Hastings would draw first blood when Sam Adams was brought down in the Worthing box for a penalty on the cusp of half-time.
Adams subsequently stepped up and sent Harrison Male the wrong way from the spot to break the deadlock.
Worthing responded almost instantly with a spot kick of their own, when full-back James Beresford was fouled in the Hastings penalty area. Substitute Splatt found the back of the net with ease to put both sides level at the break.
The second-half was more cagey than the first, with both teams trying their best not to get caught out. Elliot was one of the driving forces for Hastings with long passes out from the back to try and split Worthing's defensive structure.
Gary Elphick’s charges appeared to have more in the tank, while the intensity of Worthing's press appeared to wane in the final 45 minutes. Adams had an opportunity to double his and Hastings’ tally but could only muster a tame effort straight at Male between the sticks for Worthing.
Hastings skipper Jack Dixon had a pop towards the end of the game, which was blocked before the follow-up from another substitute, Ben Pope, was also saved by Male.
Hull got a chance to win the game from a set-piece right at the death but was unable to beat the Worthing keeper in a skirmish inside the latter’s six-yard box, before the referee indicated it was time for penalties.
Hastings had an impressive record in penalty shootouts prior to the game with five wins from five and two in their Cup run alone under Elphick.
Unfortunately, that run came to an end as Male produced three saves from the spot, of which two came during sudden death, to book Worthing’s place in the final, where they’ll take on Bognor Regis Town at the Amex Stadium on Thursday 11 May.
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
Stats (Hastings United-Worthing): Goals (1-1); Shots (10-8); On Target (8-5); Corners (4-3), Fouls (10-7); Offsides (2-2); Yellow Cards (0-1), Red Cards (0-0).
Hastings United: Rogers; Worrall, Stone, Aidoo; Dixon, Adams, Smith, Gbode; Penn, Scott, Elliott.
Subs: Lubanga, O'Mara, Pope, Turner, Hull.
Worthing: Male; Beresford, Tutt, Livesey-Austin; Lee, Chadwick, O.Starkey, J. Starkey, Rye, O'Brien, Jammeh.
Subs: Budd, Thompson, Splatt, Tillman, Dolaghan.