After a very productive and developmental previous week the Worthing College Men’s Football Performance Programme were in Under 19 ECFA National League action with another long trip, again to Norfolk, where the opponents were Easton & Otley College from Norwich.
This week was to test how far the players had come in terms of their game intelligence due to multiple players being unavailable for extremely valid reasons. Therefore this gave an opportunity for players to stake a claim for upcoming National Cup and League games. Sam Brice made his first start at left back, Ross Edwards made his full debut alongside Oscar Gamble who also made his first start in the middle of the park. Harry Smith also started in the place of Oran Guile, who is currently serving a suspension.
Worthing started the game brightly looking to switch the play and move the ball quickly into striker Sam Marsden. Harry Smith was also in buoyant mood and this was in evidence when he drove through the Easton defence only to be stopped illegally in the penalty area. Penalty given. Sam Marsden stepped up to cooly slot home his second penalty in as many games. 1-0 Worthing.
Worthing looked to kick on in this game with both Josh Marshall and Mitchell Hartley stinging the hands of the Easton stopper. At the other end the hosts began to get into the game and have a spell of pressure. However the back four stayed firm and when called upon keeper Jimmy Punter made two fine saves to deny the Easton front man. As the half grew Worthing needed to keep their discipline against a very fluid formation and to their credit all players stuck to their task admirably with the straight and direct passes from Easton being cut out by centre halves Josh Etherington and Jack Barnes.
However with 15 minutes before the break Easton equalised. An angled free kick was not cleared, which allowed the Easton striker to bundle the ball home. A sloppy goal from Worthing’s point of view, however one that they would need to learn from to ensure they got another foothold in the game. 1-1 Half time.
The focus at half time was to make sure that team shape and discipline was kept along with care in possession to carve out chances to take the points south. Again the players were a huge credit to themselves by taking advice on board and implementing it on the pitch. Marshall and Smith on the wings were getting the better of their full backs, Hartley was running intelligent areas and using the ball wisely. Marsden was again dominant in the air and held the ball up extremely well to get others into the game. A selfless performance.
The winner came from a touch in individual brilliance. Smith tormented his full back and cut along the byeline. He looked up and shaped to square, however instead he rolled the ball through the Easton keeper’s legs to take Worthing into a deserved 2-1 lead. Smith almost did the same moments later, but this time the angle was closed more quickly and the chance was gone.
Easton were looking to get something from the game as they have had spells in the game to warrant this. However the back four and Punter were extremely disciplined, determined and intelligent in their defending to keep Easton at bay.
Worthing were still creating chances with a Hartley 30-yard pot shot, an Edwards curling effort and a Marsden miss following up a Smith strike, which would have put the game to bed. Five minutes of injury time were marshalled and the final whistle saw again another impressive away performance achieved.
Performance Coach Dave Hall again praised the whole squad “this again shows how all of the players are taking in what we are looking to achieve both on the training field and match day. Each player put in a tremendous shift, which is required at all levels of the game and intelligence was again shown in all areas of the pitch at different times during this extremely close encounter. The lads again are a credit to themselves and have set the standards to ensure their football intelligence continuously developed.”