Worthing Women edged past Pagham Ladies on Sunday to set up a Women’s FA Cup first round qualifying encounter with Millwall.
Gemma Worsfold was at the double and a close-range strike from Sonia Foster ensured Michelle Lawrence started her tenure as manager with a 3-2 preliminary round win over the Lions at Nyetimber Lane.
But Worthing had to survive a late rally from the hosts, who netted twice in the final ten minutes to pull it back to 3-2 having trailed by three goals.
Despite the late onslaught, Lawrence’s side managed to see it out and progressed.
They will now make the trip to Millwall Lionesses on September 22 following Monday’s draw.
But new manager Lawrence felt Worthing’s margin of victory should have been greater at Pagham.
She said: “The scoreline didn’t reflect our dominance and it’s been the story of our pre-season.
“The game should have been out of sight by half time.
“We know that by not putting away our chances, we are putting ourselves under pressure defensively and we allowed Pagham back into the game.
“The team played some lovely football at times but were wasteful in key moments.”
Worthing dominated the early exchanges and took the lead on 21 minutes.
Just moments after Chloe Elliott had a curling effort saved, Worsfold was on hand to finish was on hand to finish off a fine passing move.
Pagham almost had an immediate equaliser, only for Georgia Selby’s rasping drive to sail over the crossbar.
Worthing continued to be wasteful in front of goal despite dominating proceedings.
But the visitors grabbed a deserved second ten minutes after the restart.
Worsfold’s strike from distance took a huge deflection and trickled past Meagan Sagar in Pagham’s goal.
Foster was on hand to poke home ten minutes later and Worthing appeared to be cruising through.
However, Gemma Yates curled home a free-kick to give the Lions a glimmer of hope.
Substitute Soraya Gilani then struck ten minutes from time to leave Worthing facing a fight to avoid letting a three-goal advantage slip.
The visitors had to see out the remainder with ten players after Foster was forced off with a head injury picked up in the build-up to Pagham’s second goal.
But Worthing saw it out to seal a spot in the first round qualifying stage.
They start their South East Counties League Division 1 campaign at Herne Bay on Sunday.
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