The Worthing College Men’s Football Academy came ever so close to getting the points against the superb FAB Academy (Bisham Abbey) at Palatine Park yesterday. The pitch wasn’t conducive to a free flowing passing game, therefore both teams had to use their game intelligence to ensure the spectacle was one to grace the ECFA National League.
Worthing welcomed back Matt Smith, Jack Punter, Dave Beaney & Harry Russell from their Ryman/Playing commitments, which ruled them out from Monday’s game. The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides looking for territory in their opponents final third. The shape and work rate from Worthing was there right from the first minute, which was extremely pleasing to see. Harry Russell carved out the first opportunity, but his volley from Lewis Blaney’s clearance was high, wide and not so handsome.
The defensive shape and display from Punter, Smith, Callum Lee and Beaney was exceptional forcing FAB into long range efforts or rushed build up play. Jack Barnes & Scott Goodman were dealing well with the additional man in the centre of the park with Tyler Nighingill and Luke Richards in support. Going forward Sam Marsden and Harry Russell were forcing FAB into longer clearances, which allowed Worthing to win possession back. FAB were forced to longer shots, even though their quality on the ball was all there to see. Worthing had another golden chance just before the half time whistle, with Nightingill ghosting in at the back post, only for his effort to be just wide.
The focus at half time was to make sure that the shape, work rate, desire and quality was maintained. FAB had to change their shape due to Worthing’s intensity and work rate, which allowed Worthing to be on the front foot. From a Punter interception and pass Russell evaded the centre back and was through only to try and square rather than take a shot on himself. Worthing were again looking dangerous from set plays and this time it was Marsden’s long throw, which was only half cleared to Barnes, who rattled the cross bar after an excellent flick by the FAB goalkeeper.
Then came the piece of absolute quality that was to decide the points. A contentious free kick was expertly bent over the wall and into the top corner, by the impressive FAB number 8, who is a South Korean youth international. 1-0 FAB.
Worthing needed to continue to play how they had been and again more chances were created. This time Luke Richards was harsly called offside, when he had the ball in the net from a Jack Barnes cross shot.
Worthing continued to press, but unfortunately for them the game was won by the smallest of margins, but Performance Programme Coach Dave Hall was really pleased with the response “This again was a superb advert for National League College football. FAB Academy are pretty much as close to a full time professional academy as you are going to get and with the players keeping their discipline and shape as well as Worthing did this is great credit to how they have developed. We have again come close to making the National Playoffs, but we have again maintained our position in the top level of College football in the Country, which is great testament to the work these young players put in, which will only develop them as players as part of their football and educational journey.”