Starting the week with a National League fixture, Worthing College took to the field with their National Playoff hopes in the balance with the opposition being Milton Keynes College. Worthing’s opponents, along with the FAB Academy (Bisham Abbey) are a full time training outfit, so it was going to be an excellent game in terms of player development.
Due to Ryman fixtures Worthing had a few players missing, however the squad was still a strong one with Callum Lee returning to the back line and Luke Richards playing in a most accustomed centre forward role. As expected Milton Keynes started the game brightly in their 3-4-3 formation, which created a couple of chances, however Worthing keeper Lewis Blaney was up to the challenge. With a tweak of the formation and personnel Worthing began to grow in confidence in the game and were looking to get joy in the set piece department, however only long range efforts were being placed towards the Milton Keynes goal.
Milton Keynes took the lead after 15 minutes. The pacy wing back cut inside Sam Brice and thundered a strike past Lewis Blaney. 1-0. This is how it stayed until the half, with the focus being on being more careful in possession to allow Worthing to create chances in the second half.
Worthing came out with real purpose and began to create chances, however it was Milton Keynes who extended their lead. The pacy 11 this time got to the bye line and squared for the oncoming striker to tap in. 2-0. Then came a potential turning point in the game. Mark Goldson wriggled his way through, but unfortunately for him and Worthing the ball rolled past the far post with the MK keeper beaten. Substitute Oran Guile was working hard and he nipped in between the MK centre halves, only to be struck on the shin in the penalty area. The sound was deafening, however as Guile stayed on his feet no penalty was awarded, which could have halved the deficit. With Worthing still reeling from this a carbon copy goal was scored by MK, pace, pull back, goal. 3-0.
To their credit Worthing still continued to press MK and began to get some joy in the midfield with Tyler Nightingill working tirelessly. Again set pieces were becoming a problem for the MK keeper with Josh Etherington and Sam Marsden not connecting accurately enough with headers. From another corner Luke Richards struck the ball towards goal, only for an MK defender to handle. Penalty, which Richards put away with aplomb 3-1. Worthing needed to settle again and try to get back into the game again, however MK scored a 4th with an excellent free kick from 25-yards out. 4-1.
Worthing again continued to work hard and forced a goal from another set piece. A half cleared corner was controlled and volleyed into the net by the impressive Nightingill. 4-2. Unfortunately the scoring wasn’t finished with the MK striker picking up his 4th of the game with another 6 yard tap in.
Despite the result Performance Coach Dave Hall felt the experience was a really positive one. “This is why we play at this level. MK were different class and played a very aggressive and effective game [that is why they are top of the league], which at times were dealt with and broke well in the midfield, however turning points in the game didn’t go for us. With regards to playing missing that is how it goes, however the players coming off the pitch have had a great experience and they will learn from this to become better players, which doesn’t come from beating sides week in week out.”