After a well earned Christmas break there were two games for the Football Performance Programme this week. The U18’s were looking to secure a place in the last 4 of the ESFA National Cup, whilst the BCS U19 squad were looking to gain a quarter final birth in the BCS National Cup at Erith School’s 1st XI.
The U18’s travelled to Barnet FC’s extremely impressive training and stadium complex to take on the extremely tough challenge that is Stanmore College. Stanmore were opponents for Worthing during their first two years of the ECFA National League, but have now moved across to the Conference Youth League under Conference South side Wealdstone.
Games against Stanmore in the past have been extremely tight affairs with games being won by the smallest of margins with both sides being on the right side of the scoreline, so who would be the victor today?
Conditions were difficult with a strong wind. Worthing decided to kick against the wind in the first half. With this Worthing needed to be disciplined both in and out of possession. Chances were few and far between for either side, but Worthing created the clearer chances in the first half.
Scott Goodman and Oscar Gamble did superbly to break up play and get Worthing playing forward. Harry Russell and Sam Marsden were keeping the centre halves occupied and forcing them to play longer passes. Worthing lost Mark Goldson to injury early and his replacement Joel Davison and Tyler Nightingill were controlled in possession in wide areas and narrowed the pitch in defence to win the ball back at the earliest opportunity.
The best chance of the half for both teams fell to Tyler Nightingill, who intercepted a centre backs pass and delicately chipped the Stanmore keeper only for the ball to come back off the bar with Harry Russell just being thwarted with the tap in rebound.
At half time the focus was based upon belief that the team could put in a performance to bring about a positive result. However with the wind at their backs Worthing needed to alter their style of play and make sure passes were shorted and played behind the defence on the floor.
Both teams started the half tentatively with Worthing’s back line of Jack Punter, Matt Smith, Dave Beaney & Scott Rafferty showing a excellent shape with keeper Jimmy Punter organising the team very well. Chances were again at a premium and Worthing had another golden chance to take the lead. A Goodman through ball to Russell, who evaded the offside trap, which seemed to surprise the striker, which made him shoot agonisingly wide.
This tie was going to be settled now with one goal and with the game entering the final quarter it was the hosts who scored from a set piece. A wide free kick was taken quickly with Worthing switching off and the Stanmore full back delivered a quality cross that was initially blocked, but fell to the Stanmore number 9 who finished emphatically. 1-0 Stanmore.
For the final quarter the game became stretched with both teams being hurried in possession. Despite Worthing’s commitment and work rate no real chances were created and it was the 2013 National Cup winners who progressed to a semi final , which is to be drawn on the 12th January.
The BCS U19 squad were also on their travels in a National competition. The opposition were in the form of Erith School and their 1st XI. A place in the quarter finals were at stake and from the off Worthing dominated possession and territory, but couldn’t convert or create the chances that their dominance deserved.
Unfortunately for Worthing they were caught twice on the break whilst trying to score themselves. The quick Erith forward took advantage of this and was clinical at the right times, despite a Luke Richards goal it was too little too late for Worthing and the squad lose their first game of the season in all competitions.
Despite negative results Performance Programme Coach Dave Hall is still in a positive mindset “At Stanmore I can’t be more happy with the players application and work rate, especially as a couple of the squad played 90 minutes under fatigue and illness. The shape was very well disciplined, which shows how far they have come in their development. Again it was a case of not taking chances when they came to us, but I’m very happy that we are still creating. First half we were outstanding, the second half we didn’t play the conditions as well, but the focus of this programme is for these players to learn from this and make themselves better players for these experiences against some of the best players at this age and level in the country.
In terms of the BCS squad Danny was really pleased with the performance, however when in attack you are at your most vulnerable, therefore we need to work on that, but with two leagues and a cup still to fight for we are very much in a positive place starting 2015. If these boys take all that we are looking to put in place then I’m sure the results will reflect the performances that are being put in.”