FOOTBALL: Worthing send out a title warning

WORTHING Football Club extended their unbeaten league run to 18 games on Saturday when they eased past Kingstonian to move to within just five points of the leaders.

It was a match Rebels had to win to stay in title contention, and they did so in some style.

Worthing, already the first team to beat Kingstonian this season (3-1 away), have now ended their unbeaten away record and the momentum is fully with Rebels as they bid to return to the Ryman Premier Division.

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Their football on Saturday was outstanding and Kingstonian simply could not handle Rebels as an attacking force, with Mickey Demetriou, Rebels' England Colleges Squad representative, inparticular, tearing K's apart.

Worthing could have taken the lead after just three minutes when Chris O'Flaherty's cross hit defender Adam Thompson on the arm and a penalty was somewhat harshly awarded.

With regular spot-kick taker Scott Kirkwood suspended, along with recent-signing Will Jenkins, Karl Akehurst stepped up but his low effort rebounded off a post and out for a goal kick.

K's almost made Rebels pay three minutes later when Tommy Williams' 20-yard free kick hit the underside of the bar and bounced on the line.

However, just two minutes later, Akehurst made up for his penalty miss with an excellent 20-yard half-volley which flew past K's keeper Luke Garrard.

The lead lasted just two minutes, though, as Phil Williams scuffed his effort past Rebels keeper Alan Mansfield.

The end-to-end action continued and Worthing regained their lead on 13 minutes when Ben Andrews was left unmarked to tap home Demetriou's cross.

It became 3-1 on 28 minutes with Demetriou again the provider. His excellent cross from the left touchline was met by the onrushing Paul Kennett, who powerfully headed home.

Both sides then had efforts ruled out for offside '“ Andy Alexander for Rebels, and Phil Williams for K's '“ before Worthing should have moved 4-1 ahead early in the second period.

Following a Ross Treleaven long throw, which caused panic in the Kingstonian defence, the ball dropped for Stuart Axten, who blazed over from six yards with the whole goal gaping.

K's leading scorer Bobby Traynor missed a great chance to set up a nervy finale when he lobbed wide from 20 yards with 12 minutes left, and within two minutes Worthing had sealed their win.

Kennett found Demetriou, who beat the offside trap, and rifled an unstoppable effort past Garrard from 20 yards.

WORTHING: Mansfield; Axten, Woodburn, Alexander, O'Flaherty; Brotherton, Kennett, Akehurst, Demetriou; Andrews, Treleaven. Subs: Benn (Axten 69), Lopes (Treleaven 88), Farmer (Brotherton 90), Mitchell, Barton. Att: 462.

Match reaction

Worthing joint boss Alan Pook said: "It wasn't our best performance of the season, but it was up there.

"They are the best side in the league but the way we play is wrong for them. I don't think it was a must-win game for us. It was more must-win for them because we'd already got three points against them.

"The defeat hasn't done them a lot of damage, though, because they're still five points clear of us, but it might knock their confidence."

Midfielder Karl Akehurst said: "It was a fantastic performance to beat them 4-1.

"I had a very eventful first 10 minutes '“ missed a penalty, scored a goal and then got booked. But I stayed calm to make sure I stayed on the pitch.

"I tried to send the keeper the wrong way with the penalty but after I missed that, I needed to get on the scoresheet.

"We've got a great team spirit and, hopefully, we can go on to win the league now, and I think we can. This is my third season in the first team now, and it's about time we won something."

Worthing skipper Ben Andrews, who was moved back into attack from defence for the game, said: "We're absolutely over the moon, and it was a fabulous performance by the team.

"Everyone dug in, and it was a really good performance.

"We're unbeaten in 18 games and have beaten Kingstonian twice.

"We're now just five points behind them and are in a good position.

"It always helps when four or five of the team have really good performances.

"Paul Kennett was outstanding, Karl Akehurst was brilliant, Stuart Axten was excellent and Mickey Demetriou had a superb game. The back four also kept their two decent strikers at bay, so I'm very pleased all round."

On returning up front, Andrews said: "It was good fun. I wasn't happy with my performance in the first half, even though I got a goal. But I played a bit deeper in the second half, and played much better."

Left-winger Mickey Demetriou, who created two goals and scored one, said: "It was brilliant, I really enjoyed it today.

"It was a really important game, and we knew we had to win it to put more pressure on them.

"I put a few crosses in and we scored from two, so I did my job and then Paul Kennett laid my goal on a plate.

"Their keeper was standing quite far over to the right, so I just put it to his left.

"I think we can go on to win the league now. If we play like this, we will beat anyone."

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