Hallsy’s Weekly Look Around the Academy – ECFA National Playoff Last 8 Preview

The Worthing College Men’s Football Academy 1st XI will take on Leeds City College in the last 8 of the ECFA National Playoffs this Wednesday.  Worthing sealed this tie before Easter, by winning their ECFA National League, only losing once in the process.  The top two teams from the four National Leagues across the country go into a playoff to decide who is the best College side in the country for this season.  As Worthing won their league they have been given a home tie, which is to be played at the new Palatine Park complex with a 1pm kick off and coach Dave Hall hopes that home advantage along with performance can give Worthing the best chance of progression.  

“Firstly I would like to thank Tony Lelliott and all at Worthing Town Youth FC for letting us use their superb facilities as our other home pitches (Arundel & East Preston) are now under maintenance in preparation for next season.  They have bent over backwards to help us and I’m sure the playing surface will be fitting of such an important match.  This will be the first time since I have been at the College where we will have home advantage for such a big National level game.  In past years our big away National matches at York and Queens School Watford have started slowly for us, which has allowed the hosts to get a foothold in the game, which is then difficult to break back.  I hope that with our preparation and home support we can be the ones that start quickly as it is usually only small differences in quality that decide the winners and losers.  When we played York in 2010 we travelled the night before, trained, then played the next day, which was an excellent experience, but I feel the travelling took its toll and we tired towards the end, which could be a factor in Leeds’ preparation.”

Worthing have had to prepare for over a month without a competitive match, but coaches Hall and Danny Cullip have made sure that sessions were intense and specific to this match.  “Even though the season has finished for most teams in the area the whole squad have been superb in their attitude and work ethic.  We have had 25+ to each training session, which has allowed us to focus on overload training games and set piece sessions, so that the players are hopefully sharp come game day.”

Despite the lack of a competitive fixture Worthing did play an Old Academy XI on Friday night defeating them 2-0 at Arundel FC.  The opposition had the likes of Jordan Clark (East Preston) and James Fernandes (Arundel) in their ranks and for an hour pressed their younger opponents into keeping their shape and defending for a long time without the ball.  In the end fitness told with Joe Warner nodding in after Dave O’Callaghan’s exquisite chip struck the bar.  The scoring was complete after a fine solo effort from winger Lee Mottershead.  Hall was extremely happy with the performances from both sides; “The Old Academy were excellent tonight as they kept possession for long periods and gave the current squad a physical workout, which the players may come up against in the Leeds match.  The boggy nature of the pitch also helped fitness levels and the current squad kept their defensive shape excellently, which I’m sure more of the same will be needed for this coming Wednesday, as Leeds will be a talented and strong outfit.  I would like to thank the Old players for coming back and playing their part in preparations and it always good to catch up.”

The only injury concern is goalkeeper James Binfield, who misses the game due to ankle ligament damage whilst on a volleyball coaching course. Coach Hall remarks “I’m gutted for James as he has developed so much this year and has played for Pagham’s first team for most of the season, which shows how far he has come. However in my opinion we have the best two goalkeepers in Sussex at this age group with Jack Fagan, who has been Worthing FC’s number 2 this season and I’m sure he will take this opportunity with both hands and do himself proud as his attitude this season has been spot on.” 
Going into the biggest match of their season and with back to back league titles and the County Cup already behind them can the Worthing College squad take it one step further, into the last 4 of the Nationals?  All will be revealed on Wednesday.
Onwards & Upwards,

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