The Worthing College Men’s Football Performance Programme were this week in ECFA National League action. The squad travelled to North London to take on COHENEL College.
Despite Harry Russell, Ross Edwards, Elliot Dollner & Scott Rafferty being rested the squad was exceptionally strong looking to get back on track in the National League. Again Tyler Nightingale started after his long injury layoff and it was also great to see Jimmy Punter back between the sticks after his month out through re-occuring groin problems.
Worthing’s opponents were new to this level, therefore an unknown quantity, however the game itself began incredibly even with both sides trying to get forward to impress themselves on proceedings. Worthing could have been ahead inside the first minute. A James Thurgar cross was not fully met by Sam Marsden with Mark Goldson just missing out on the follow up.
Goldson was also returning to the line up after his successful trial with Scottish League One side Airdrie and he was being very effective in possession and he also tested the COHENEL keeper on more than one occasion with long range efforts.
Thurgar and fellow winger Jake Heryet were being direct and positive with Thurgar getting the better of his full back on more than one occasion with just the final ball or a last ditch tackle being the difference of taking the lead.
At the other end Worthing were staying extremely strong with Jack Punter, Dave Beaney, Josh Etherington and Pat Webber keeping an excellent shape and forcing COHENEL into playing the ball long and wayward. However COHENEL did create chances with Jimmy Punter making a fine reaction shot after a corner was only half cleared to keep the scores level.
Worthing were looking dangerous at the set piece with some quality delivery from Beaney and Heryet, with Etherington getting on the end of more than one free kick, which could have come to more. The deadlock was finally broken just before half time. A Heryet corner was dropped by the COHENEL keeper and Nightingale pounced to send the ball into the roof of the net. 1-0.
The focus at half time was to keep the shape and discipline as well as looking to develop game intelligence in this tight encounter. The second half saw COHENEL take the game to Worthing by being very direct in their running with the ball, which led to chances, however Punter was more than equal to this with two outstanding saves to keep the score at 1-0.
With 20 minutes to go COHENEL got back into the game with another direct run and cross, which unfortunately was turned into his own goal by the unfortunate Beaney. 1-1.
It was now time for Worthing to stand up and be counted. As the game began to be stretched Worthing altered formation to be slightly deeper and break on the counter attack. With 10 minutes to go another superb run from Thurgar was crudely halted by the COHENEL centre back with a penalty being the only option. Sam Marsden stepped up and sent the ball far into the right hand corner. 2-1.
COHENEL needed to step out to try and get another equaliser, which allowed more space for Worthing to play in. Marsden was doing a superb job playing in wingers Thurgar and sub Eli Amoo, with Amoo almost getting on the scoresheet twice, however a great block and keeper save denied the Worthing man.
The points were sealed after a Goldson corner, which was clearly handled by the COHENEL full back. Again Marsden stepped up and slotted the penalty down the middle. 3-1. The final 5 minutes were well managed by Worthing to secure an excellent away win.
Performance Coach Dave Hall was so pleased about the development the players are showing “today is one of the reasons why this programme was put in place. The players were given a different challenge today and they showed their adaptability in terms of playing the conditions and to their strengths. The squad have really matured today and shown excellent character, especially when they equalised. Again its great to see the players progression and I’m looking forward to them seeing take this experience into their future matches.”