In a re-arranged National League fixture the Worthing College Football Performance Programme travelled to long time rivals Kingston College on an excellent (and very wide) 3G surface opposite Walton Casuals FC.
Worthing made a few changes to the starting line up, due to players playing at Ryman league level on the Saturday. Mark Goldson came back into the starting line up along with Callum Lee, who was returning from injury after his excellent cameo against Easton last time out. After an impressive performance Tyler Nightingill took his place alongside Scott Goodman in the centre of midfield.
Kingston have an excellent home record and have already taken four points off the impressive FAB Academy this season, so for Worthing’s playoff hopes to stay alive an excellent team performance was needed. It was the hosts who started the brighter with Worthing not pressing the ball high enough. Inside two minutes Kingston could have taken the lead. A curling strike from the edge of the area came back off Lewis Blaney’s bar, but fortunately for the Worthing stopper the rebound fell straight back into his grateful arms.
Worthing started to get their team shape together and found quickly that the areas to pressurise was behind the Kingston full backs. Goldson managed to get in behind on more than one occasion, with just the final ball missing. Harry Russell was making his second start in a row after injury and was looking very sharp. He was terrorising the home defence with his direct style and strength on the ball. Another Goldson cross could have been met by Russell, but his was adjudged to be offside.
Worthing were growing in confidence and with a great team shape led by captain Matt Smith, Lee, Scott Rafferty and Dave Beaney at the heart of Worthing’s defence. A neat move involving Nightingill, Luke Richards and Russell finished with Goodman striking the ball into the ground. Russell again created an excellent chance for himself, pulling a cross out behind him and in the same movement volleying towards goal, only for an excellent save from the Kingston goalkeeper.
Kingston were always looking dangerous with diagonal balls and tricky wide play, but Blaney was not really tested. Worthing finally took the lead with 10 minutes to go before half time. Russell tussled with both Kingston centre backs and broke free then finished exceptionally well with his left foot. 1-0 Worthing.
That was the score at half time and the focus was now with the sun and wind at Worthing’s backs the shape to be the same, but even higher up the pitch. Again not much to say as the work rate, application and game intelligence was all to see in the first half.
However no games are won in 45 minutes, so Worthing needed to step up the tempo again. With the size of the pitch and both sides working hard the game began to get stretched, which seemed to suit Worthing’s possession and disciplined shape approach. Goodman and Nightingill were being very effective, by breaking up play and moving the ball forward.
Richards & Goldson were working well with Russell to win possession high up the field and with this Sam Marsden was causing problems both with his aerial ability and technical capabilities. The second goal came from this philosophy with Richards taking the ball off the centre back (nutmegging him in the process) and he again drove towards goal and shot early, with the goalkeeper not set. 2-0 Worthing.
Russell was replaced by Gamble with Marsden moving higher up the pitch and looking to cement the midfield with Gamble coming into the fold. Again this didn’t disrupt the flow of play with Kingston’s threat coming from set plays, but Worthing defended admirably with everything that was thrown at them.
Another change came with Oran Guile replacing the hard working Goldson, who was out on his feet. Guile had a chance to increase the lead, but his lobbed effort was rushed and wide of the post. The match and points were sealed in the final minutes with Richards again stealing possession, but this time feeding Marsden, who slotted the ball past the helpless Kingston keeper. 3-0 Worthing.
So with the final whistle came jubilation with another 3 points at the top level of College football, with a long trip to Suffolk coming up, who knows where this season will take the squad.
Performance Coach Dave Hall was very pleased with the performance “in every National League game in 2015 (four games) the performances have been right up there. The game against Easton was unfortunate result wise, but the squad are really starting to believe in themselves and this was visible today with how they controlled the game and were intelligent in terms of the conditions and pitch size. There will be a few tired bodies, so we will recover right and look to go again next week to ensure that this result counts for something at the business end of the season. The boys are developing all parts of their game, which is so good to see and again is what the whole programme is all about.”