Elphick praises players after late away defeat

Worthing Football Club joint manager Gary Elphick called his side's performance in a 2-1 defeat at high-flying Needham Market one of their best of the season on Saturday.

Lloyd Dawes was on target for Worthing at Needham Market on Saturday. Picture by Marcus Hoare
Lloyd Dawes was on target for Worthing at Needham Market on Saturday. Picture by Marcus Hoare

The hosts got the winner seven minutes from time and Elphick felt his side would have taken something from the match with a bit more luck.

He said: “I thought it was one of our best performances of the season and we dominated the match. They had three big chances and scored twice and that was just down to a bit of sloppy defending.

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“However, I couldn’t have been happier with the lads. They got the ball down and played really well but I have to criticise the officials, as much as I hate to.

“We had a goal ruled out for offside which was very disputable and then their winning goal came after the linesman put his flag up and then back down again. Our players stopped a little and they went through to score, so it’s just little things like that where we’re not getting that little bit of the rub of the green at the moment.”

Needham went ahead after just five minutes when John Sands raced on to a long ball over the top and beat Rikki Banks.

Jack Cook twice went close to levelling as he was denied by a great save and then had an effort cleared off the line, while Omar Bugiel also had an effort ruled out for offside.

Banks made an excellent save at the other end, before Worthing drew level on 66 minutes. Omar Bugiel played Lloyd Dawes through and he netted his seventh goal since rejoining the club from Lewes.

But Needham got the winner seven minutes from time when Billy Holland got through to score, with Worthing appealing for offside.

Elphick, 31, was again on the touchline and says he will only play when needed this season: “At this level, it’s hard to be both a player and a manager, so I won’t play unless I have to.

“I still love playing so I haven’t retired or anything like that but the management side is what I want to do, so I’m giving the players ownership on the pitch.”

Elphick was again pleased with the performance of captain Kane Wills and said: “He’s been our player of the month so far and confidence is a big thing for a footballer.

“He’s now dominating the midfield, which is what we expected him to do after a bit of a tough time.

“A few supporters got on his back but there’s 11 players out there and I don’t like it when players are signalled out on social media or forums. I know fans are entitled to their opinions but it’s probably just five-or-so fans who have been on his back.

“It can have an effect on a player’s confidence but I couldn’t be happier with Kane’s performances in the last few weeks.”

Worthing, 13th in the Ryman League Premier Division, entertain fourth-from-bottom Leatherhead - managed by Jimmy Bullard - tomorrow evening, before they host third-from-bottom Hendon on Saturday.

Elphick said: “It’s great to have a character like Jimmy in non-league football after all he’s achieved in the game.

“They’re two winnable games and our mindset has got to be to get two wins. However, they’ll both be saying the same about us so we’ve got to make sure we perform and hopefully we’ll get the results.”

Reis Stanislaus and Zack Newton could both return from injury and be in Worthing’s squad tomorrow.

WORTHING: Banks; Hendon, Heath, Cook, Rents; Edwards, Wills, O’Neill, Sparks; Bugiel, Dawes. Subs: Axell, Fagan, Brodie, Boiling, Denyer-Schneider.

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