The Worthing College Men’s Football ECFA XI were looking to join their AoC counterparts in the pinnacle of Sussex Schools competition; the County Cup. Worthing’s opponents were Imberhorne, who had beaten some illustrious opponents on their way to the Semi Final, so Worthing were in for a very tough semi final tie.
The match started with both sides looking nervous and giving away possession all too easily, however Worthing were looking dangerous on the break with wingers Nick Oxley and Jake Heryet being released on more than one occasion with their quality delivery just evading the attackers in the penalty area. It wasn’t long until Worthing did take the lead and it again came from an effective counter attack. Scott Rafferty cleared a free kick, which found Mark Goldson, who then released Heryet and his cross was met superbly by Nick Oxley, who clipped the ball over the keeper. Excellent finish. 1-0.
Worthing had an almost instant chance to double the lead, but striker James Thurgar headed wide. Worthing were getting real joy from wide areas and another Heryet cross was just about to be headed by Oxley until the Imberhorne full back leant on him and a penalty was awarded. However this opportunity was missed by Worthing with Dave Beaney blazing the ball high, wide and not so handsome.
Imberhorne to their credit was putting Worthing under pressure and forcing mistakes. They were getting too many free kicks, but to Worthing’s credit these were defended admirably, especially from the back four of Pat Webber, Elliot Dollner, Scott Rafferty and Beaney. The returning Jimmy Punter in the Worthing goal was not tested in the first half apart from one punched clearance, which was dealt with well.
Worthing were being wasteful in front of goal, but build up play was very positive, so the focus at half time was to be clinical as well as making sure that play was switched at pace and with a high tempo.
The second half started similar to the first with Worthing being on top, but Imberhorne working hard to force the issue and try to create chances for themselves. Oxley was having a very good time against his full back and some of his delivery was of the highest order with Thurgar and Goldson both fluffing their lines. However it was great to see the the penalty area was being committed too.
Worthing needed to maintain their discipline and shape to ensure that Imberhorne were not given a sight at goal. Again Punter was more of a spectator and long range efforts from Imberhorne didn’t trouble him. James Thurgar was working hard up front and he found himself in the wide right channel taking on a defender and putting an exquisite cross onto the head of Oxley, but it was his turn to miss the target.
As time wore on Worthing brought on Jack Punter for Tyler Nightingill to provide stability in the midfield and he typified this approach with his first two challenges in the game, which seemed to refocus Worthing and their approach. Just before the final whistle Punter did have one save to make, however it was comfortable for the Worthing stopper.
So with the final whistle saw subdued celebrations due to possibly the nature of the scoreline, however it was a job very well done and now the whole Academy has two finals to look forward to. Performance Programme Coach Dave Hall was pleased with their application “In training we have been working on players committing themselves into the box as well as wide delivery and its quality. Today the delivery at times was at a high standard and I will never criticise players for getting into the position to create a chance. On another day we probably score 4-5 goals, but I’m also happy with the shape and discipline of the side because it would have taken only one lapse in concentration for Imberhorne to force extra time and to their credit they worked hard right until the final whistle. A fantastic achievement for both squads to be in their County Cup Finals and something we will look forward to preparing for.”