Worthing College were looking to capitalise on their impressive away victory at Kingston on Friday with another difficult trip to Bury St Edmunds to take on West Suffolk College.
Worthing were forced to make changes due to injury and unavailability, so Jack Barnes had to play as a makeshift centre half alongside Josh Etherington, who was making his first appearance in five months, due to a knee injury. Joel Davison also made another National League appearance, but in a unfamiliar left wing role.
Worthing needed to start sharply and with the wind at their backs they were dominant from the off as they were camped in West Suffolk’s half, however the wind was making any through ball just a bit too far. Worthing’s opportunities came mainly from set pieces, with the first contact being made on more than one occasion, but Sam Marsden and Harry Russell efforts were either off target or saved by the West Suffolk goalkeeper. Tyler Nightingill was enjoying an excellent game, looking to drive the side forward with his forward passing. He also had two efforts on target, but were straight at the keeper. Joel Davison was keeping an excellent shape out on the left and his volleyed effort was also superbly parried away by the West Suffolk stopper.
Unfortunately for Worthing these chances were to be rued with West Suffolk winning the game in 39 mad seconds. A pretty standard cross from the West Suffolk left wasn’t dealt with by centre back or goalkeeper, which allowed the Suffolk striker to score with their first chance of the game to make it 1-0. From the kick off Worthing lost possession and with the Worthing back line switched off the same striker again ran through and finished past Blaney. 2-0.
Worthing needed to keep their heads to get back into this game and to their credit the game again saw Worthing in charge, but couldn’t find the foothold in the game. Russell’s hard running almost forced a mistake between centre half and goalkeeper, however the goalkeeper just got a vital touch before Russell was in to score.
At half time the focus was to keep the shape and make sure the passing game was upped in terms of tempo and quality. Again it was Nightingill who was looking to do this, but needed players around him to support. With the nature of the pitch and conditions Suffolk had slightly more of the play and Worthing were thankful to Blaney and Barnes for last ditch saves and tackles. Considering he had been out for 5 months, Etherington was working tirelessly in defence and to his credit was playing with desire and the mentality that was required.
Worthing needed to make changes and Ross Edwards entered the fray for Sam Marsden and a change of formation to 4-4-2 allowed Worthing to get more possession in the right areas. With 10 minutes to go Russell had another chance to half the deficit, but his excellent strike was saved again by the West Suffolk keeper. The final nail in the coffin was when Worthing were chasing the game and from a Worthing free kick, which was cleared the Suffolk striker got his third of the game with Worthing 1v1 at the back.
So an unfortunate result for the squad, which now requires the side to win their final three games to be in the playoff mix. Performance Coach Dave Hall was still positive for the rest of the season “this is why we play at this level with regards to games like today. The players will learn many things from preparing to travel to Suffolk, playing against a different type of player and at high quality facilities. As part of their game intelligence the boys will learn that when on top chances need to be taken and also the fact that if a goal is conceded they need to focus quickly to ensure they stay in the game. Again I keep saying it, but its fine lines. I’m happy that more players have gained National League experience, so bodes well for the future in terms of staying at the top level of College Football.”