Shootout drama ends Worthing’s FA Trophy hopes early at Frome
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A fixture that was dubbed “The biggest tie of the 20s at Badgers Hill” in the build-up, Frome Town, the lowest ranked side left in the competition, were looking to improve their already impressive record against National League sides as the Rebels paid a visit.
In nine previous meetings with National League sides in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, the Robins – who are fourth in the Southern League south division, two steps below Worthing – had lost just once and were looking to add another upset to their tally with the Rebels in town.
The Rebels were looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at home to Dartford in midweek, where they lost 4-3 in dramatic fashion.
Meanwhile, the hosts came into the fixture after extending their impressive home record, beating Willand Rovers 3-0 last time out. The Robins’ last home defeat was back in March and they had won eight of their nine competitive fixtures at home this term.
Adam Hinshelwood made three changes to the side that were beaten by the Darts in midweek, Ricky Aguiar, Nicky Wheeler and Greg Luer all dropping to the bench, replaced by Michael Klass, Bailey Smith and Joan Luque.
Despite the Rebels looking calm and controlled in possession in the early stages, the remainder of the first half was anything but from Hinshelwood’s side.
The hosts took the lead in the ninth minute after Sam Meakes broke past the Worthing defence to get on the end of a ball in behind. He took one touch to control it, before looking up and firing into the bottom left corner.
The Rebels’ first chance came some 15 minutes in when Luque tested the keeper with a shot from the left, but it was comfortably saved by Kyle Phillips.
Chances flowed for the home side. First, it was the captain Sam Teale’s header that looked destined to find the back of the net, but it went narrowly wide of the upright.
Soon after, Jon Davies found his way in behind the Rebels defence, in similar style to the way Meakes got the opener. But, Davies couldn’t equal the finish, as he place his shot just wide of the bottom right corner. Next, it was Luke Taylor who went close, firing in from the edge of the area and the ball grazed the post on its way through.
It was a long wait for the Rebels’ next chance, which came in the 34th minute when Smith teed up Danny Cashman, whose shot went just over.
Meakes had a huge chance to double his tally after being played through by Taylor. He opened up his body, looking to find the far right corner, but he placed his shot just wide of the upright and the Rebels could count themselves lucky to be just one goal down at the break.
The Rebels made a far brighter start to the second half and got their reward seven minutes in. Ollie Pearce whipped in a cross from the byline which found the head of Klass who nodded in from point-blank range.
Straight after the goal, Hinshelwood’s first change was made as he replaced Joe Felix with Greg Luer.
The Rebels weren’t level for long after Klass’ equaliser. It was another moment to forget in what has become a week to forget for Worthing’s keeper Roco Rees. The keeper came out to claim a long ball forward but got nowhere near it and the ball bounced over his head, into the feet of Davies who tucked away Frome’s second to go back in front.
Soon after, Worthing made their second change, as Aguiar came on for Odei Martin Sorondo. On 68 minutes, Joel Colbran made a fantastic recovery tackle to block Meakes’ effort at goal after the forward got in behind.
Aguiar was denied twice by Phillips in the space of two minutes as the Rebels began to rally. His first effort was parried wide for a corner before a lethal strike soon after which, unfortunately from Worthing’s point of view, was hit straight at the Robins’ keeper.
Phillips again made a fantastic stop for the Robins on 80 minutes when it opened up for Luer in the area. A reflex save this time saw him tip it around the post.
When Smith crossed from the byline, it looked for all the world that Cashman would head in Worthing’s equaliser, but he couldn’t get a clean connection on it and Phillips comfortably saved.
Worthing’s final change was made on 84 minutes, with Wheeler coming on for Klass. The hosts’ captain, Teale thought he won it for his side late on when his header found the back of the net. But to the home side’s bemusement, the assistant referee’s flag was raised for offside.
Into added time, Wheeler floated a cross towards the back post where Luque was found unmarked. He volleyed towards goal from point-blank range but Phillips again made a stunning save.
The Rebels got their reward for their late pressure, right at the death. Pearce’s last-gasp free-kick from some 25 yards found the bottom left corner and we were heading for penalties.
Despite being the hero with the late equaliser, Pearce stepped up first and saw his penalty saved by Frome’s hero, Phillips.
Rees made a save of his own to keep it goalless after a penalty each, but after Colbran and Davies scored the second pair of penalties, Phillips made the decisive save, denying Kane Wills before George Rigg scored to hand the hosts the lead.
Luque and Pierce Mitchell scored their penalties to leave Aguair with a penalty he couldn’t miss. Phillips got his hands and body behind Aguiar’s penalty but he couldn’t stop it squeezing through underneath him.
Substitute Ross Staley stepped up to take the final penalty, firing into the bottom corner and sending the home support into raptures and sending Worthing out of the competition at the first time of asking.
So Worthing miss out on £3,700 prize money for a second round win – instead settling for the £1,000 pot for losing teams – and a place in round three. They now return to league action this coming week – they go to Farnborough on Tuesday and Taunton next Saturday.