The Worthing College Football Performance Programme began their 4th consecutive season at the top table of England Colleges’ football with a tough away trip to Dereham Town of Norfolk.
After a 7.30am start and a 4 and a half journey the squad arrived at the very impressive Dereham Town FC in confident mood after positive August and pre season sessions. In the starting line up Jack Punter made his debut at right back with other new comers Ross Edwards & Joel Davison taking a deserved place on the bench. A new look attack saw Sam Marsden through the middle with Oran Guile and Josh Marshall in wide areas.
Worthing started the brighter with the hosts not being able to get hold of possession to dictate play. The emphasis again this season has been the development of game intelligence and this was in evidence in what turned out to be the only goal of the game. A Dave Beaney throw was flicked on by Marsden and Guile peeled off the striker and seeing the Dereham goalkeeper off his time Guile volleyed the ball into the net. 1-0. Worthing
Due to the positive nature of the start this was what Worthing deserved and should have gone on from there. However it was the hosts with their narrow formation in midfield, who looked to get on the ball and see more possession in the first half. It took Worthing time to adapt to this, however the shape and discipline was there for all to see with the back four of Punter, Beaney, Callum Lee and Matt Smith holding firm against a very fluid and quick front two.
With their shape Worthing began to frustrate their opponents, who began to give the ball away. Returning midfielder Jack Barnes began to get onto the ball and make Worthing tick. A through ball was inadvertently flicked on by the Dereham centre half, coming off the crossbar and just evading the advancing Marsden. To their credit the hosts try to play the ball on the floor, however with the sticky surface this was becoming more difficult, however they did have a clear cut chance towards the end of the half. A half cleared cross found the Dereham number 10, who blazed over after great work from Worthing keeper Jimmy Punter to close down his options.
During half time the focus was to maintain discipline and understand that moving as a defensive unit as the ball moves being key to success in this game. A change at half time saw Davison make his debut on for Scott Goodman. Davison looked extremely comfortable on the ball as well as strong in the tackle, which is demanded at this high level of college football.
Dereham changed personnel, but not shape at half time, which Worthing again adapted to quickly with effective communication and intelligence. Dereham were rightly looking to press with both fullbacks high, however when Worthing won possession this made the game a lot more open. A Josh Marshall strike stung the hands of the home keeper, but at the other end Punter kept Dereham at bay with a fine low save with his legs after a goal mouth scramble. Marshall again almost got in after a great cross from Guile, but his flick was the wrong side of the onrushing goalkeeper.
The final 30 minutes saw the introduction of Harry Smith for Marshall and his direct approach got Worthing up the pitch to allow the defence to recover. One mazy run led to a free kick just outside the box, but Jack Barnes could only hit his effort tamely at the wall.
Another debutant entered the fray with 20 minutes to play. Ross Edwards came on for Mitchell Hartley, who had worked hard during his 70 minutes denying the holding midfielder any space or time. Edwards was involved straight away with a great reverse pass into Davison, but his turn and shot went just over.
Into the last ten minutes Dereham threw everything at Worthing, however the squad stayed firm and came away with an opening game three points away from home.
Performance Programme Coach Dave Hall was really pleased with the work the boys put in “this is what the programme is all about in terms of learning how to deal with a long journey, in terms of preparation and then going out and completing an effective game plan. Dereham were very good technically, so it was a very balanced game, but we played the conditions superbly in terms of keeping our discipline as a defensive unit, which allowed us to limit them to only 2 or 3 clear cut chances. The whole squad should take credit for the way they conducted themselves and this is a great start in terms of developing their game intelligence, which will only make them better footballers this season and beyond.”
Onwards & Upwards,