A mixed day for the Worthing College Football Performance Programme, which I’m sure will define a season in terms of lessons learned and standards set that need to be maintained.
The 1st XI took to the Colleges’ Hill Barn training pitches for an early 1pm kick off against a Milton Keynes side, who had made an extremely positive start to life in the ECFA National League. The aim from the start was to start sharply and Worthing definitely did that. It only took three minutes to take the lead. A Harvey Sparks corner was headed in by Harry Smith, which was one straight from the training ground. This great start continued with Jack Barnes driving through two challenges to shoot, only for the goal ward bound shot to be parried straight into the path of Luke Richards. 2-0 Worthing.
The second goal seemed to wake Milton Keynes up and they began to match Worthing for attractive passing football, despite to monsoon conditions. Worthing began to give too much respect to their visitors and MK began to get a real foothold in the match with their midfield and wide players beginning to dominate play. Worthing held their own until mid way into the first half, but MK broke down the left and delivered an excellent cross for the unmarked right winger to head into an empty net. 2-1 and game on. Worthing needed to get back into the game and effort was definitely there, however legs possibly not, which allowed MK to equalise just before half time. A slide rule pass between Worthing right back and centre half played in the MK striker to finish calmly under Jimmy Punter. 2-2 half time.
The half time chat was based upon re-focusing and looking to get back to playing effective football. This looked in evidence straight from the whistle. Jack Barnes played a diagonal pass behind the MK right back and Harry Smith burst through only to be clipped. Penalty to Worthing. Charlie Dennis confidently stepped up and slammed an excellent penalty low to the MK keepers left. 3-2 Worthing. From the point the game began to settle down with both sides seeming to share chances, a real end to end encounter. Punter had to twice deny MK strikers and at the other end Charlie Dennis had a real chance to increase the Worthing lead. Then came a potential turning point in the game. Harry Smith, who had been tormenting the MK right back had to be withdrawn due to a slight cut lip, which the officials were not allowed to re-enter the field of play. Smith was replaced by Josh Marshall. To their credit MK cranked the pressure and intensity up a notch. Another cross from the right was turned in from Worthing’s goal line. 3-3. The game was on a real knife edge with both sides still looking for a winner. Again chances were created by MK, but Punter and excellent blocks by Worthing’s man of the match Greg Gander seemed to deny MK maximum points. At the other end Josh Marshall and Dennis both had real chances to take the lead. A far post header and strike that went just past the post were going to be rued as MK won the tie again with a cross and finish from 6 yards out. 4-3 MK.
With the final whistle came jubilation from MK and obviously disappointment from the Worthing camp. Performance Coach Dave Hall was philosophical in defeat “considering the conditions it was an excellent game played by two talented squads. Potentially a draw could have been a fair result, but I think MK just nicked it. Our boys will definitely learn from this as when on top they need to keep going, rather than take their foot off the gas. Massive credit should go the MK, who never stopped playing and were just a yard sharper today and at this level you expect to get punished. Again we will come back stronger and the boys will learn from the experience to develop their game intelligence, which is what the programme is all about.”
The Worthing College Football Performance Programme 2nd XI were in BCS SE League encounter against Bexhill College 1st XI. A real test of how this young side have developed so far. Performance Programme Coach Danny Cullip felt that the side played some of the best football of the season, especially in the first half by taking a 2-0 lead over their opponents, who hadn’t lost since the start of last season. A Chris Potkins thunderbolt and a Mitchell Hartley strike gave Worthing the lead at half time. The lead could have been greater by strikes by Kieran O’Brien and Danny Groves were ruled out. The second half was a different type of performance with the squad sticking together and working as a unit. Even though Bexhill halved the arrears Worthing killed off the game with a sublime third. A Chris Potkins diagonal pass found Kieran O’Brien, who struck the decisive goal under the Bexhill keeper. 3-1 Worthing. The squad were extremely happy with their performance and it was great seeing this young squad realise its potential against a seasoned 1st team. However the hard work starts now as the bar has been raised and standards have now been set.
Onwards & Upwards,