Worthing suffer rare defeat as Cray come from behind and Starkey sees red

Reece Meekums put Worthing into the lead
Reece Meekums put Worthing into the lead

Worthing suffered their first defeat since mid-October in a 2-1 loss at home to Cray Wanderers, beaten by second-half goals from Joseph Taylor and Joel Rollinson that cancelled out Reece Meekums’ first half opener.

In a feisty affair which was filled with chances for either team, it was Worthing who had the earliest opportunity to break the deadlock.

Slipper Alex Parsons won the ball deep in Cray’s half and found Ricky Aguiar, who turned but fired straight into the palms of Lewis Carey in the Cray goal.

For the opponents, left-back Thomas Carlise whipped in a dangerous ball which found the outstretched leg of an unmarked Taylor, but his effort went wide of Carl Rushworth’s goal.

Parsons was again involved in the action when he slipped in Meekums who fired a shot at goal which needed a fine save from Carey to deny him.

The visitors continued to look dangerous, however, and Taylor had the chance to put them 1-0 up, but Rushworth was equal to his effort to keep the scoreline goalless.

The end-to-end affair continued, with Jesse Starkey floating an inch-perfect cross to Fin Stevens who was closing in, but his volleyed effort went awry.

The game was overdue a goal going into the midway stages of the half, and Meekums stepped up to put Worthing a goal to the good, as he slalomed into the area and fired past a helpless Carey.

Ten minutes later, Cray had the chance to equalise when a free-kick went all the way to the back post before bouncing off the upright and back into the arms of Rushworth.

With half-time looming, the ball fell loose to Pamment, who rifled a shot which looked destined to make it 2-0, but somehow Carey clawed it out for a corner.

The second half saw fewer chances, with Cray beginning to gain a foothold in the game.

Rushworth was called upon to deny Rhys Murrell-Williamson on the hour mark; meanwhile at the other end substitute Ollie Pearce hit the post with his first involvement.

In the 67th minute, a long ball over the top was met by Taylor, who surged through one-on-one to equalise for Cray.

Seven minutes later, Aguiar won a free kick for Worthing which was taken by Starkey, who saw his effort brilliantly saved by Carey.

As the game reached its final ten minutes tempers began to boil over, resulting in Starkey being dismissed for a professional foul.

With one minute remaining, Joel Rollinson surged into the area on the break for Cray and fired past Rushworth into the bottom corner, consigning ten-man Worthing to their first defeat of 2020.

Results elsewhere, however, mean Adam Hinshelwoods side remains top of the table by five points, and face Cheshunt on Tuesdays evening in the Velocity Trophy quarter-final.