Perfect Pearce pushes Worthing back into National South play-off places

Ollie Pearce's second half hat-trick helped Worthing come from behind to beat Chippenham 3-1 at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium to move back into the National League South play-off places.
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The Reds were looking to bounce back from their cup exit at the hands of Littlehampton Town in midweek that saw the Marigolds advance to the quarter-finals of the Sussex Transport Senior Cup after a penalty shootout victory.

The Bluebirds, meanwhile, had been beaten by Hampton & Richmond Borough last time out after holding league leaders Yeovil Town to a 1-1 draw in their previous outing. Worthing v Chippenham in pictures by Mike Gunn.

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The Rebels had shown four changes to the side that were beaten on penalties by Littlehampton Town in midweek, Jesse Starkey among those returning to the starting XI, while Glen Rea made the bench as he continued his return to full fitness after suffering a broken toe.

Worthing celebrate on their way to victory over Chippenham | Picture: Mike GunnWorthing celebrate on their way to victory over Chippenham | Picture: Mike Gunn
Worthing celebrate on their way to victory over Chippenham | Picture: Mike Gunn

The pattern of play for the first half became clear inside the first few minutes, with Chippenham settling in with 11 men behind the ball to make it difficult for the Reds to find a way through with their composed passing football.

Danny Cashman tried his luck from long distance in the third minute, but his swerving and dipping effort was comfortably saved by Will Henry.

The Bluebirds’ first chance came on 18 minutes when Craig Fasanmade’s deflected effort looped up towards goal before Roco Rees palmed away.

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The Rebels nearly fashioned a fantastic opportunity to break the deadlock when Ricky Aguiar slipped in Pearce at a tight angle. The forward, with a striker’s instinct, opted to have a go at goal himself despite having Cashman and Odei Martin Sorondo in the middle, and Henry comfortably saved.

The Reds were probing away throughout the first half and produced a good-looking move to hand Joe Felix a stab at goal, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.

On 37 minutes, Starkey spotted the run of Greg Luer and executed his pass perfectly to find his run. Luer chested the ball down in front of him, but his left footed effort was a tame one, and Henry again comfortably saved.

Worthing suffered a sucker punch at the end of a first half that they dominated. Matt McClure poked home for the Bluebirds after Joel Colbran headed Fasanmade’s shot off the line in the build up and Chippenham had an unlikely lead at the break.

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Pearce’s early goal, some 50 seconds into the second half, was just what the doctor ordered for the Rebels. The Bluebirds wanted a free kick at the start of the move, claiming that Starkey had fouled Ed Williams. But, the Rebels made full use of their break, with Cashman heading across goal up the other end for Pearce to poke home the Reds’ equaliser!

Joe Rye made a fantastic block five minutes later to deny Cane Bradbury’s fierce effort which was heading for the bottom right corner. Rea was introduced soon after, making his first appearance for the Reds since October after breaking his toe. He replaced Starkey in a change of shape for the Rebels.

Luer forced a very good save from Henry on 57 minutes, with his effort bending towards the bottom left corner before Henry parried wide.

The Rebels were starting to rally when Luer teed up Aguiar on the edge of the box. Aguiar’s effort, though, went just over the bar.

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There were some 20 minutes remaining when Pearce fired the Rebels in front. It was from a Chippenham throw in which they couldn’t clear and the Reds pinched back possession to allow Cashman to square to Pearce who slid forward to fire in at the far post!

At the other end, Rees was called into action, making a fantastic save to push McClure’s shot from distance over the bar. The Rebels broke away from that corner and couldn’t make full use of a four-on-three situation, with Aguair’s cross cut out and cleared away.

With 15 minutes to go, Hinshelwood made a double change, replacing Cashman and Luer with Joan Luque and Bailey Smith. Pearce was wheeling away in jubilation ten minutes later as he completed his hat-trick with a fine header from Aguiar’s delightful cross which clipped the under side of the crossbar on it’s way in!

The striker nearly added a fourth in added time, with his shot delfecting wide into the side netting. It was a perfect start to December for the Rebels, with the ‘Perfect Pearce’ securing all three points on a bitterly cold afternoon at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium.

Next up is a long trip to the West Country on Tuesday night, as the Rebels take on Weston-super-Mare at the Optima Stadium.

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