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Worthing Town 3 Faversham 0 match report - Ryman League Division 1 South play-off final

Faversham's Ryman League promotion dream was left in tatters after a controversial opening 20 minutes in the Division 1 South play-off final at Worthing's Woodside Road on Saturday.

The Lilywhites fell behind inside six minutes after the assistant referee had ruled that Brannan O'Neill's corner was over the line before being cleared and they then had Luke Harvey sent off for alleged retaliation.

Referee Gary Maskell showed the Town striker a straight red after deciding Harvey had pushed Will Hendon, who picked up a yellow card for his part in the 19th minute incident.

Luke Harvey
Luke Harvey

Within six minutes of Harvey's departure Gary Elphick had doubled Worthing's advantage, leaving Ray Turner's side to chase a game they will feel they were never allowed to get into.

Jordan Maguire-Drew made it 3-0 midway the second half and Town were even denied a consolation when Charley Robertson's 73rd minute spot kick was saved.

Both teams were unchanged from the semi-finals and Worthing began with all the confidence of a side which had put seven past Hythe, with set piece specialist Maguire-Drew forcing Will Godmon to turn over his curling fifth minute free-kick.

However the reprieve proved only temporary as O'Neill's hanging corner was missed by Godmon and though the ball was headed off the line the assistant referee flagged for a goal giving the home side the perfect start.

Town looked to have regrouped well when Harvey was baulked by Hendon 30 yards from goal. The pair both went down with Harvey looking like he unintentionally brushed Hendon as he attempted to get up. Referee Maskell decided the contact was deliberate and a distraught Harvey was given his marching orders.

One down and down to 10 left Town with a huge amount of work to do and their task became nigh on impossible on 24 minutes when Worthing doubled their advantage.

Ray Turner
Ray Turner

Godmon did brilliantly to palm out Omar Bugiel's close-range header from O'Neill's free-kick but centre-half Elphick was on hand to turn home.

Town to their credit never panicked and started to enjoy more possession with Liam King working particularly hard up front.

A low cross from Renford Tenyue just eluded Josh Stanford at the far post and they also forced several corners all be it without ever really being able to test home keeper Rikki Banks.

If they were ever going to get back into the game Town needed to score first in the second half and they certainly began brightly with Turner waiting less than 10 minutes before introducing Dean Grant and Kieron Campbell for Ryan Cooper and Stanford.

Worthing seemed quite content to soak up any pressure knowing they had the players to stretch Faversham on the break.

Zack Newton did shoot straight at Godmon on one such attack, but the home side had not really threatened when the ball broke kindly to Maguire-Drew in the box and he had time to check he was onside before drilling home from 12 yards to make it 3-0 on 70 minutes.

Proof that it was not in any way Town's day came three minutes later when home skipper Steve Metcalf caught sub Campbell in the box but Robertson's penalty was saved low to his left by Banks.

This was Town's second play-off final defeat in four years having lost to Merstham on penalties in last year's semis.

For Worthing promotion earned them a return to the Premier Division for the first time since 2007.

Worthing: Banks, Hendon, Metcalf, Bugiel, Elphick, Heath, Maguire-Drew (Axell, 76mins), O'Neill, Pope (Edwards 90mins), Newton (Piper 79mins), Sparks; Subs not used: Fagan, Quirke.

Faversham: Godmon, Cooper (sub, Grant 54mins), Tenyue, Carrington, Scarborough, Bourne, Robertson, Monger, King (sub, Brown 83mins), Harvey, Stanford (sub, Campbell 54mins); Subs not used: Maxted, Dowadu.

Attendance: 1,889.

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