Eastbourne Borough’s frustrations in front of goal returned as they bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.
Jake Robinson’s first half header gave Worthing a 1-0 win in the Second Qualifying Round as the visitors claimed a real smash-and-grab victory.
Borough had plenty of chances in front of goal, but wasteful finishing coupled with exceptional goalkeeping denied them against their fellow Sussex National League South compatriots.
Mark Beard made four changes to the starting line-up that lost narrowly at Yeovil seven days ago. Dan Quick, Yaser Kasim and Shiloh Remy came in, with Zak Emmerson making his full debut up front. Brad Barry was ruled out through injury, whilst Sam Beard was ineligible as part of his loan agreement with Barnet.
Worthing kept the ball well in the early stages, but without ever threatening the Borough defence.
The Sports knew they would have to be patient against a team who like to keep the ball, and they should have taken the lead with the first shot of the game 15 minutes in.
Billy Vigar won a tackle with ex-Borough midfielder Kane Wills and Jack Paxman released Remy down the right, but on his weaker foot he fired narrowly over the bar with just the keeper to beat.
Chances were at a premium inside the first half an hour at Priory Lane, but the Sports kept winning possession in Worthing territory. And Borough went close again when Leone Gravata pounced on a loose pass and found Kasim, but his low drive was saved well by Rocco Rees diving to his right.
That save would prove to be the first of many from the Worthing stopper, who made a fine stop from the resulting corner. Kasim found Remy in space after playing the set-piece short but his curling effort was tipped over the bar by an outstretched Rees.
But for all their chances, the Sports fell behind with 36 minutes on the clock. Nick Wheeler found room on the left to lift in a cross towards the near post and Robinson got in front of Ben Dudzinski to glance his header in off the inside of the far post.
So with the visitors’ first shot on goal, Borough found themselves trailing, but they looked for a response before the break.
Archie Procter’s quickly taken free-kick played Remy in down the left hand side. He pulled the ball across from the byline, but neither Emmerson or Vigar could divert the ball on target as frustration grew.
Emmerson, who joined on loan from Blackpool until January last week, was then played in by Gravata, but his low drive across goal was saved by Rees shortly before whistle sounded for half-time.
Ricky Aguiar then tested Dudzinski shortly after the interval, but his shot from outside the box was easily saved by the Sports keeper.
Great defending from Joel Colbran then denied the hosts, heading clear with Emmerson and Vigar putting him under pressure to get on the end of an inviting ball in from Paxman.
Quick then beat Danny Cashman to the ball as Worthing looked to play out from the back, and he found Kasim but his low drive whistled just wide.
Procter then played Emmerson in down the left hand side, and the striker cut in past two defenders, but his low shot was saved by Rees.
Chances kept falling to the young forward, who moments after heading Freddie Carter’s cross onto the roof of the net had a great opportunity. After turning away from Joe Rye, Carter’s long ball put Emmerson clean through on goal, but he couldn’t sort his feet out and Rees came out to save at the striker’s feet.
The Sports were relentless with their pressure, and should have been level in stoppage time. Decarrey Sheriff cut in from the right, but saw his low drive well saved by Rees diving to his left. The loose ball presented itself to Emmerson, who got there first and his header looked set to find the net but Rees’s superb reactions kept the ball out before the keeper clawed the ball to safety.
Local bragging rights to Worthing then, as the Sports must now dust themselves off and go again with the visit of Welling United next weekend.