The Men’s Football Performance Programme 2nd XI were looking to complete an impressive League and Cup double when they took on their counterparts from Bexhill College in the SSFA County Cup 2nd XI final at Haywards Heath FC yesterday (Tuesday).
After sealing their BCS South East League title away to Bexhill’s 1st XI the week before Worthing went into the game knowing that Bexhill would be a very strong outfit and would need to be at their best to bring the Cup home that they last won in 2010 (and Runners up in 2012).
The squad arrived looking the part in their shirt and tie combos to add to the professional preparation required. However upon inspection of the playing surface the players knew that this wouldn’t suit their free flowing passing game. Therefore they would need to use their game intelligence to play the conditions.
Finals are usually tight and tense affairs and this was no exception with both sides finding it difficult to get the ball under control, however it was Worthing who found their feet first with winger Chris Potkins shooting wide under pressure.
Again the game fell into an even affair with both sides giving away possession due to the difficult surface, but Kieran O’Brien tried to give Worthing the lead with a superb 30-yard volley, which dipped, but was tipped around the post by the Bexhill keeper.
Worthing began to apply pressure and looked organised in attacking set pieces. A free kick from Tyrone Madhani was met by Sam Marsden, whose towering header went just over after a great piece of movement.
At the other end Bexhill started to apply pressure and were creating half chances, especially off their long throw ins. Arguably Bexhill created the best chance of the half with their centre forward being denied twice by the excellent blocks from centre half Jacob Wuyts. 0-0 at half time.
Focus at half time from coaches Dave Hall & Danny Cullip were to continue with the discipline and shape, but just be a bit more ruthless in front of goal.
The second half had a similar theme to the first with neither side taking control of the ball, even though Scott Goodman and Ellis Wilson in the centre of the park were doing some good things in possession and breaking up play.
The war of attrition continued with no real clear cut chances and only the Bexhill stopper having to make a couple of saves from Goodman, Tyrone Madhani and Marsden. So 0-0 at full time and with extra time being in similar vein the dreaded penalty shootout. The mentality from Worthing was first class as eight hands went up straight away to take penalties.
Bexhill took first and was SAVED by Lee Whittaker. Dave Beaney stepped up for Worthing and SCORED. 1-0 Worthing.
The diminutive number 7 from Bexhill confidently stepped up by MISSED and blazed his penalty over the bar. Mitchell Hartley walked by and struck the ball sweetly into the net. 2-0 Worthing.
Bexhill needed to get back into proceedings with their third penalty, but it was that man again Lee Whittaker who SAVED his second spot kick. Sam Marsden, who had been battered and bruised all game by the Bexhill centre back and had a chance to seal the double. Marsden sent the keeper the wrong way to send the squad into scenes of jubilant celebration. 3-0 Worthing on penalties.
So Worthing were victorious after a tense final and have now completed a ‘perfect season’ by winning all League and County Cup games. An unbelievable achievement and one that will go down in College history!
Performance Coach Dave Hall was so pleased for the squad as a whole after the win “we saw a new side to the squad today, which is exceptionally pleasing. The players adapted to the conditions and played with intelligence and grit, which allowed them to keep disciplined, where other teams may have suffered. To go a whole season without losing a game is a huge achievment and one that will take a long time to equal or surpass. This has been based upon our ethos of player development and game intelligence, which has got the squad results, whether it be League & Cup double, National League status or England Colleges’/ Sussex Schools representation. A season where all squad members can be exceptionally proud of their efforts.”
Onwards & Upwards,