Littlehampton Town boss hails ‘perfectly executed horrible performance’ that knocked Worthing out of Sussex Cup
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The Isthmian south east team won 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw – and might even have gone through in 90 minutes, having led 2-1 until Ollie Pearce’s late equaliser.
Matt Astle and a Jordan Layton penalty had put Hand and George Gaskin’s men 1-0 and 2-1 before Ricky Aguiar and then Pearce dragged the 2022 cup runners-up and 2023 winners back into it.
Delighted Hand said: “We’ve been lucky enough over the past few years to have some really special performances and results but this has to be up there with one of the best.
"They (Worthing) are full of players that I’d class as professional, they were almost full strength and they’re one of the best non-league sides in the country with arguably the best non-league manager around.
"It was a perfectly executed ‘horrible’ performance. We had to make the game as ugly as we could. I likened trying to play them at their own game to stepping in a ring with Tyson Fury and saying ‘you punch me then I’ll punch you’ and we’ll see what happens, there’s only one winner.
"We had to manipulate the game to suit us as much as possible and the boys put in a performance that I’m not sure they even knew they were capable of.”
Littlehampton, 2022 FA Vase finalists, have found this season, their second at step four in the Isthmian south east, tough and are in the division’s bottom two. But the management are hoping this cup win can help lift them for the challenges ahead.
Hand added: “I’m as proud as I’ve ever been of a Littlehampton side. It’s been a tough few months but I’m actually loving it more then ever.
"We’re in a real scrap at the minute and in a strange way it’s given us all a buzz and a purpose trying to do everything we can to start putting points on the board and getting us out of that bottom two.
"We’re at our best when we’ve got that underdog mentality and I feel like that’s back amongst the group.”
The Marigolds have another Sussex derby this Saturday when they go to Burgess Hill in the league.