6th April 2024

The Glovers had their first chance at winning the National League South fall away from them following a 3-1 defeat against Worthing. Whilst the inform Worthing side’s work rate may have warranted the result, the game will forever be remembered for certain decisions made by the officials.

Sam Pearson and Sonny Blu Lo-Everton returned to the starting line up after being on the bench for Monday’s game against Weymouth. It was Pearson on 4 minutes who had an unbelievable opportunity to give the Glovers an early lead. A misjudged defensive pass across the box fell beautifully to Pearson but he rushed his effort which flew over the crossbar. The Glovers fine start continued when Jordan Young and Sonny Blu Lo-Everton linked up before finding Frank Nouble whose shot at goal ended up in a similar place to Pearson’s previous effort. On 10 minutes, the goalkeeper, Ollie Wright, had to be at full focus as Pearson whipped a low cross towards Sonny Blu Lo-Everton who prodded the ball towards goal but was denied by the outstretched leg of Wright.

The momentum immediately shifted as Ollie Pearce drove forward into the area before being adjudged to have been brought down by Jake Wannell. Gareth Thomas pointed to the spot to give the league’s top goalscorer an opportunity to add to his fine tally, and he did just that. Ollie Pearce stepped up in front of the packed Thatchers Gold Stand and sent Joe Day the wrong way as he tucked it into the bottom corner to put Worthing ahead.

The Glovers continued to press following the goal but just could not find that finishing touch. A free kick from Charlie Cooper was whipped towards goal on the 25th minute but Ollie Wright had no problems in punching the ball away from danger. Sonny Blu Lo-Everton again caused the Worthing defence problems by progressing forwards before squaring the ball to Frank Nouble who shot over the crossbar.

As the half was heading towards its conclusion Worthing had a couple of chances to double their lead. The first saw Joseph Felix bring down a cross at the back post before blazing wide of Joe Day’s goal. The second saw a weak pass from Jay Foulston intercepted by Felix who played the ball past Day and into the path of Brad Dolaghan who rolled it into the empty net to make it 2-0 in stoppage time.

Change was needed if the Glovers were going to confirm the title and Mark Cooper called upon Rhys Murphy, who was returning from injury, as he replaced Sam Pearson. Just moments after his introduction he was right in the middle of the action. Having latched onto a through ball, Murphy was hauled over in the area and for the second time Gareth Thomas pointed at the spot. Rhys Murphy took it in his own hands to take the penalty kick but Ollie Wright was able to read the penalty and made the save. A moment which summed up the Glovers’ luck so far!

Despite this, the Glovers kept pushing on. Murphy was at the core of the action again on 55 minutes as he latched onto the ball on the left before charging into the area and putting a low cross in but it was cleared away. Mark Cooper made his second change moments later, and another attacking adjustment, as Brooklyn Genesini was replaced by Dylan Morgan. Not long after Alex Fisher was also introduced to replace Jordan Young.

Both Fisher and Morgan added some much needed fresh legs to the attack as Worthing began to look settled as the game headed towards its conclusion. Moments after coming off the bench, Fisher whipped a dangerous cross in towards Frank Nouble but he wasn’t able to get much power on his effort as it looped into the hands of Wright. Alex Fisher did however get the Glovers back into the game on 83 minutes. A cross from Dylan Morgan was cleared but the clearance was skied and headed back into danger by Nouble before Fisher flicked the ball into the net and gave the 6,000 supporters a glimmer of hope.

Following the goal, the Glovers continued to press for an equaliser but it very nearly cost them on 87 minutes. A corner was cleared quickly by Worthing who broke away with Joseph Felix moving the ball all the way to the edge of the box before forcing a save from Joe Day.

As the game entered an additional 7 minutes at the end of the 90 the Glovers could not have come closer. In the 92nd minute, a cross towards the back post was met by Morgan Williams who glanced his header agonisingly wide of the post. It was what happened on 94 minutes that many supporters will want to try and forget. A ball from Matt Worthington was flicked on by Morgan Williams into the path of Rhys Murphy who strode forward and lofted the ball over Ollie Wright, just seconds after the Thatchers had heard the news of a Slough Town goal, but the flag was lofted with Murphy being adjudged to being in an offside position.

The moment was like a punch in the gut to many connected the green & white, supporters, staff and players. Despite trying to draw the game level in the final minutes of injury time, Worthing were able to break away, with plenty of Yeovil players high up the pitch, as Cashman played the ball through to Ollie Pearce who guided his effort beyond Joe Day and into the far corner. As the Worthing players wheeled off in celebration, the referee brought an end to proceedings as the Glovers promotion party was put on hold for another day.