Adam Hinshelwood praised his Worthing team’s spirit as they won through to the next play-off round, writes Carlos Acosta Juckes.

Rebels beat Braintree in front of 2,678 fans in the first round of the Vanarama National League south play-offs.

They go to Oxford City in the semi-finals on Sunday.

Worthing boss Hinshelwood said: “We showed real heart and spirit.

“They are a great group. They stick together, now they have to go and enjoy it.

“We´re punching above our expectations. No pressure on the players. Go there with no fear.”

Worthing only waited one minute before they could celebrate the first goal of the evening.

Davide Rodari scored a tap-in after poor defending from Braintree. Two consecutive weak clearances led to the locals taking the lead.

The visitors came back immediately. Only seven minutes later, a powerful throw-in crossed into the box and some questionable defending from Worthing ended up with Lamar Reynolds picking it up and slotting it in.

For the next 30 minutes, the game turned to be a back-and-forth but with no chances created, both teams inaccurate in their final pass.

However, five minutes before half-time, Hinshelwood’s men came close to scoring twice as Ibby Akanbi received a through ball, dribbled his man by cutting inside and curled it past the far post.

In the added time, Reece Myles Meekums saw Liam Vincent´s cross evade him by a few inches.

The Harrison Male show began as Braintree came close to scoring from a corner but the keeper went down quickly to prevent his team go behind on the scoreboard.

Worthing seemed to be struggling at set-pieces.

In the 54th minute, a header from Alfie Pavey almost silenced the Crucial Environmental Stadium.

However, when Worthing were least expecting it, Jack Sims scored an own goal two minutes later to put the home team in front.

Vincent crossed and, as everyone thought the keeper was going to easily catch it, Sims punched it in.

Ollie Pearce, who had been very quiet during the game, almost extended the lead as Rodari fought well for a long ball and laid it for Pearce, who skyed an easy finish.

The Rebels had another counter-attack 15 minutes before the conclusion as Akanbi cut inside and obliged Sims to dive and save.

Braintree began to apply pressure as the time started to run out.

Aaron Blair had the equaliser in his boots but the penalty area was too crowded for the player to hit the ball with accuracy and, five minutes later, Altintop had the best chance of the game, but blasted the ball over the bar after finding himself right in front on Male.

Nevertheless, it was Worthing who came close to scoring as they counter-attacked once again with Pearce hitting the post after a great save from Sims.

Hinshelwood said: “We had some chances, I thought, in the second half.

“I thought we deserved the win in the end.”