Worthing College Football Performance Programme looked to continue their superb start to the National League season with the visit of West Suffolk College, who are another big name in the National Football game.
The game was moved to Palatine Park from Arundel FC due to the recent inclement weather conditions, despite this the surface was not bad at all and allowed both teams to try and play football the correct and effective way.
The aim from Worthing’s point of view was to start sharply, however it was the visitors from Suffolk, who found the pace of the game quicker with their three central midfield players dominating proceedings. Despite this dominance neither team were creating clear cut chances, however Suffolk were dominating the play.
Josh Etherington came off early in the first half due to injury and was replaced by Ossie Guile, who was returning back to the squad after a two week lay off. Another blow for Worthing came when Joel Davison came off after the half hour with a back injury and was replaced by another returning player, Oscar Gamble. These changes allowed Scott Goodman to move inside and work with Gamble to combat Suffolk’s midfield dominance and Mitchell Hartley moved wide and Ross Edwards played in a more advanced role.
Unfortunately West Suffolk went ahead and was fully deserved. A dangerous free kick was well blocked, but the rebound was never really reacted to. This allowed the tall number four to glide in and finish low at the second attempt. 0-1.
This is how it stayed until the half and the focus was to go out and earn the right to play, which Worthing hadn’t done in the first 45 minutes. A final change was made with Hartley making way for Harry Russell, who was making his debut after injury had plagued him from the start of the season.
His impact couldn’t have been more positive. Right from the off a strong challenge on the Suffolk centre half set the tone for the second period. It wasn’t long until Worthing were back on level terms. Russell the poacher after a shot was only parried by the West Suffolk goalkeeper. 1-1.
This stirred Worthing further, who began to boss the midfield area and get hold of possession to play their free flowing football. West Suffolk were always dangerous, with their number 9 and 10 combination looking unplayable at times, but credit to the Worthing back five (including goalkeeper Jimmy Punter), who stayed focus and firm.
Like a bolt out of the blue Suffolk were back in front against the run of play. The Suffolk left back advanced and Worthing failed to step out and from 20 yards out he curled a sublime strike with the outside of his left boot into the far top corner. Punter with no chance. 1-2.
Worthing needed to focus and re-group and that is what they did and more. Possession was now starting to move towards Worthing’s way and Russell was again making himself a nuisance winning both the floor and aerial battle. An exquisite chip on the run was only halted by the Suffolk goalkeepers fingertips. Back again came Worthing. This time a fantastic diagonal cross from Jack Punter, found Guile, who worked the space only for his strike to come off a post. Was the equaliser ever going to come?
Guile was being exceptionally accurate with his set pieces and one brushed the head of skipper Smith and wide, but the next one Worthing got right. Guile delivery was powerfully met by man of the moment Russell. 2-2.
Now the game was up for grabs with both sides going for the win. West Suffolk had their chances with their number 9 looking dangerous and it took a fine save from Jimmy Punter to keep him out and a West Suffolk substitute blazing over after making space in the penalty area. The game could have been Worthing’s a goalmouth scramble saw Smith and Russell both denied and as Suffolk started to tire Worthing’s fitness again shone through. Ross Edwards had a great chance to win it, but his shot was easily saved, when another touch could have opened up more of a chance.
So 2-2 the final score and the spoils shared. Performance Coach Dave Hall was extremely pleased with the character shown “today’s game was another step in the players footballing development. They learnt that the right to play needs to be earned to allow the game to be taken to your opponents. We altered a couple of things during the first half and at half time and the most pleasing thing was that the whole squad took this on board and developed their performance in the second half. The draw is probably a fair result, however we had the clear cut chances to win it at the end. However we can’t be more proud of the performance of the 16 as again the subs changed the game and made positive impacts. More game intelligence developed today and that is what its all about.”