The Worthing College Men’s Football Performance Programme returned to their home ground Worthing FC this week in the County Cup second round. Opponents were in the form of Sussex Downs Lewes, who came looking for a place in the quarter finals of this seasons’ competition.
Last season Worthing fell at this stage to Collyers, so were looking to learn from this experience. The line up only saw one change from last weeks superb away performance in North London. Josh Etherington dropped out late, so Nick Oxley came in at left back with Pat Webber moving inside.
Again windy conditions met the players and with Worthing having the wind to their backs in first half possession was dominated, however failed to really test the Sussex Downs keeper from open play.
However from set pieces Worthing did look a threat with Pat Webber, Sam Marsden & Mark Goldson looking to get onto the end of quality delivery from Jake Heryet and Dave Beaney, but the Sussex Downs goalkeeper was up to the challenge and made one or two decent saves to keep the game goalless.
Sussex Downs were keeping an excellent shape and were looking to catch Worthing on the break and they almost did, however Worthing keeper Jimmy Punter was up to the task, even though the shot squirmed under his body at first.
As the half was drawing to a close it looked like the sides were going in at deadlock, however the direct style of winger James Thurgar drew a foul in the penalty area, which Sam Marsden dispatched with aplomb. 1-0.
Focus at half time was to keep the shape and look to use the wide areas as Sussex Downs were keeping a very compact shape when out of possession.
This worked to a T straight away and Worthing extended their lead inside a minute of the second half. Substitute Ross Edwards, who replaced the excellent Tyler Nightingill (as part of his rehabilitation from an ankle injury) played a sublime pass into the path of Thurgar who squared for Marsden to get his second of the game. 2-0.
Sussex Downs to their credit looked to go more direct and this got them back into the game. A long wind assisted strike was only parried by Punter and the left winger was quickest to react. 2-1 and game on.
Worthing needed to compose themselves, but inside five minutes Sussex Downs were level. A well angled free kick and headed into his own goal. 2-2.
Worthing then decided to go up a gear with Heryet and Thurgar being very positive with their runs, giving their full backs real headaches, however the final pass was just missing. Heryet was replaced by the returning Harry Russell and this gave the game fresh impetus and he could have put Worthing in the lead, but his effort was straight at the Sussex Downs keeper and the rebound was missed.
Worthing took the lead for the final time after some great defensive positioning. Thurgar had tucked in and gambled on the back pass being short, which is was and then passed it into the net. 3-2.
As the game wore on Worthing kept their defensive shape well and ensured a quarter final place away to either BHASVIC or Sackville to be played in January.
Performance Coach Dave Hall was pleased to be in the next round “Cup games as we know are one offs, so the result almost needed to be more important than the performance, however in spells the performance was excellent. Sussex Downs did a great job in terms of shape, so the boys had to develop their game intelligence further to make sure that they didn’t get frustrated and kept playing the right way, which on the whole they did well. This will bode the squad well for the final games of 2015.”