After the positive recent performances of the AoC squad it was the turn of the ECFA National squad to take to the field for their final away fixture of the season. The opposition were in the form of the 10 Academy, who are linked with Tooting & Mitcham FC.
The game was vital in terms of league position as Worthing were lying in 3rd and 10 Academy in 4th, with the top three going into the National Playoffs at the end of the season, so a big three points were up for grabs as well as another learning opportunity for Worthing’s squad.
The game started in poor weather conditions and it was vital for the right football to be played. Worthing started sharply with the midfield of Scott Goodman, Ross Edwards and Tyler Nightingill getting on the ball and looking to switch possession at speed. 10 Academy were sitting off the visitors and this allowed wingers James Thurgar and Jakob Heryet to get at their opposite full backs with just the final ball lacking.
Harry Russell was again working on his rehabilitation from his hamstring injury and he was causing the physical centre backs all sorts of problems with his direct style, however at times his composure in the box was lacking and the 10 Academy goalkeeper wasn’t really tested until 15 minutes in when a Nightingill strike stung his palms.
Despite 10 Academy dropping deep they were always very dangerous on the counter attack, however the back four of the returning Scott Rafferty, Pat Webber, Elliot Dollner & Dave Beaney were keeping an excellent shape and were cutting out any through balls that were attempted. Rafferty’s shape was especially superb in the first half.
Worthing took a deserved lead after countering the counter. From a 10 Academy corner it was cleared to Heryet, who flicked in Thurgar and from his strong run drew out the advancing keeper and squared to Russell to tap home. 1-0. Worthing.
Taking the lead should have meant that Worthing were going to kick on, however this was the opposite as Worthing were being slack in possession and this led to 10 Academy getting on level terms. A strong run down the right wing wasn’t dealt with and Dollner could only half cut out the cross, which dropped to the very fortunate 10 Academy striker, who lifted the ball above Jimmy Punter in the Worthing goal. 1-1.
Worthing then decided to wake up and take the game to 10 Academy. Again wide areas were being exploited, but chances from Heryet, Nightingill and Russell were squandered. A little bit of controversy rained on the first half with a Thurgar volley looking like it beat the 10 Academy keeper at the front post, a goal was given, but the linesman flagged stating the ball had gone through the side netting. The referee STILL awarded the goal, however after the protests of the home goalkeeper the goal was finally chalked off.
As half time was looming it was vital that Worthing took advantage of this dominance and it came just before half time with Thurgar crossing for Nightingill to slot home. 2-1. Worthing.
The focus at halftime was to continue to keep our shape, but provide a bit more quality in the final third, especially as the hosts will not be as deep as they were in the first half.
As the second half begin there was a change in personnel and tactics from 10 Academy, with a more direct approach using more willing runners from midfield. However to their credit Worthing were also playing some excellent passing football, with the spectacle being very exciting to watch from both teams.
It was a piece of brilliance from Russell that did finally extend Worthing’s lead. Just on the hour mark he took hold of the ball an curled an exquisite lob over the 6 foot plus 10 Academy goalkeeper. A superb effort. 3-1 Worthing.
Russell was subsequently replaced by Mark Goldson, who took on an advanced position through the middle and his direct running style and quick movement got him involved effectively in the game straight away, which again was giving the 10 Academy centre backs a very hard time and this led to some very tough tackling and fouls being committed.
Despite it being 3-1 the game was still incredibly tight, which is what you would expect from this level and 10 Academy were getting in behind at times, however Punter was in inspired form and made a superb triple save to stop 10 Academy getting back into proceedings.
Worthing finally won the game with 10 minutes to play. A lovely cross field pass from Thurgar was collected by Heryet and his pinpoint cross was headed home by Goldson. Excellent team goal 4-1 Worthing.
Worthing managed the game well in these final 10 minutes and Jack Punter came on into the midfield to make sure that the game and three points were won.
Again Performance Coach Dave Hall was exceptionally pleased with the squads efforts “today was an exceptional away team performance. These players are really taking on board what we are trying to do in terms of their game intelligence and this is now showing in quality performances against different opposition. The challenge now is to show even more quality in the final third to ensure that we taken advantage when we are on top in games, however I’m extremely proud of all their efforts so far this season.”