Horsham 2-3 Worthing: Hornets blow two-goal lead in Senior Cup defeat
Horsham crashed out of the Sussex Senior Cup at the quarter-final stage following a 3-2 home loss against Worthing this (Tuesday) evening, despite the Hornets holding a 2-0 lead at half-time.
An early Rob O'Toole goal and a Lea Dawson wonder strike put the hosts in a commanding position at the break.
But Worthing produced a stunning second half comeback to snatch victory at The Camping World Community Stadium.
An Ollie Pearce spot-kick reduced the arrears just after the hour mark before the Reds marksman doubled his advantage, and levelled the tie, on 78 minutes.
The game looked to be heading for extra-time but substitute Reece Myles-Meekums blasted home eight minutes from time to send Worthing into the semi-finals.
Dominic Di Paola made three changes from Saturday's defeat at Hornchurch. Harvey Sparks, Harry Mills, and Taurean Roberts replaced JJ O'Sullivan, Joe Shelley and Greg Cundle.
The Hornets needed just seven minutes to take the lead. Roberts let fly in the area but his effort was well blocked by a Red shirt.
The ball fell to O'Toole who drove the rebound into the bottom corner past Worthing keeper Carl Rushworth.
The sides exchanged chances after Horsham went ahead. Callum Kealy, with his back to goal, did well to turn his defender in the area but his attempt went narrowly over.
A mazy run from left back saw Harvey Sparks on the edge of the Worthing box. The defender laid the ball off to Charlie Harris and the midfielder struck a superb first time effort that zipped just wide of the post.
Midway through the first half the Hornets doubled their advantage, and in some style. A headed Worthing clearance fell to Dawson just inside the Reds half.
Dawson picked the ball out the air and unleashed a stunning 40-yard half-volley that flew over the head of the beleaguered Rushworth and into the top corner.
Eight minutes before the break the Mackerel Men came close to narrowing the deficit. Tricky wing play from Pearce saw the Worthing number ten play a teasing ball across the face of goal.
Kealy and Jasper Pattenden burst into the box looking to get a telling touch but the inviting ball just evaded the pair.
Hornets keeper George Bentley then made a fantastic flying save to preserve the host's two goal cushion at half-time.
Pattenden curled a delightful shot towards the top corner from just outside the box but Bentley showed great acrobatic prowess to punch the ball out.
The opening ten minutes of the second half was a quiet affair as Worthing bossed possession without forging any clear cut chance.
But the half exploded into life on 56 minutes. The Reds won a free-kick on the edge of the area and Pearce's effort was fumbled by Bentley.
A Reds player followed up and wheeled away in celebration, thinking he'd tucked home the rebound, as the ball was cleared out for a corner.
No goal was signalled and the referee awarded the set-piece. The Reds erupted into protest surrounding the man in black but, after consulting with his linesman, the decision stood.
But on 64 minutes Worthing were back in the game. Sparks gave away a foul in the area and a penalty was given. Up stepped Pearce, and the Mackerels forward coolly slotted home.
The Reds almost grabbed an equaliser immediately from the restart. Goalscorer Pearce stole possession straight from kick-off and forced Bentley into a fine save down to his right.
And the visitors did grab a deserved leveller with 12 minutes remaining. A good passing move upfield saw the ball played into the area. A scramble in the box ensued but Pearce was on hand to smash the ball in at the far post.
Worthing's unbelievable turnaround was completed four minutes later. Substitute Marvin Armstrong slipped in fellow replacement Myles-Meekums who blasted the ball into the roof of the net to turn the game on its head.
Horsham: Bentley, Metcalf, Sparks, Kelly, Mills, Miles, O'Toole (Pamment 46), Dawson, Lavery (Smith 83), Harris (Brivio 67), Roberts. Unused: Charman, Harding, Smith.
Referee: Tim Robinson