After the positive draw on the Isle of Wight the previous week the Worthing College Men’s AoC XI squad took to the Woodside Road pitch looking to build upon an effective training week. The opposition were in the form of the Charlie Austin Academy, who are linked with St Trinity’s School, Newbury.
Worthing made numerous changes, which allowed Performance Coach Dave Hall to look at more players in match action. Jed Dossett, Max Baker, Jake Perkins & Joel Parsons made their debuts in defence along Ollie Dengate, Harry Gardner and Jordan Welch making first starts of the season. With this amount of debuts some may argue that the performance may well be disjointed, however from the start it looked like the work on the training field was paying off with Worthing looking to play the ball in the right areas, especially with Dossett playing the ball into great areas for Gardner to take on his full back.
On the other side Dengate was causing a threat and his directness set up the first goal. Dan Geal turned the ball round the corner, which Dengate chased and pressurised the goalkeeper to misjudge his clearance, which landed at the feet of Lucas Rodrigues, who calmly took a touch and caressed the ball in from 30+ yards. 1-0.
Worthing then seemed to set into a pattern of looking to play the right pass off some positive movement. Again the wingers of Dengate and Gardner were a threat; creating crosses that just evaded Rodrigues and Welch. It wasn’t long before Worthing increased their lead with Rodrigues again breaking free and finishing cooly past the Charlie Austin keeper, showing his real quality and class. 2-0.
It was only a matter of time before the wingers got what they deserved from the game, which resulted in Worthing’s lead being doubled. Firstly a great ball from Dossett was latched onto by Gardner, but he was pulled back in the penalty area. Penalty given, which Gardner stepped up and finished. 3-0. Dengate then got in on the act in unconventional fashion from a set piece. A Geal corner was punched by the Charlie Austin keeper, but straight onto the head of Dengate, who took the plaudits. 4-0.
Confidence was now brimming from the squad with players really expressing themselves and it was a real joy to see. At the half the focus was to move the ball more quickly, looking to switch play where possible, but also to not get complacent and sloppy in defence.
Worthing again started the half brightly with Ollie Perrin and Perkins stamping their authority on the game with some excellent aerial challenges and looking to drive the team forward at every opportunity. In defence Worthing were looking confident with Max Baker being a calming influence in possession.
Isaac Swaby, who had come on for the injured Gardner was being extremely direct with his play and was just a final touch away from getting his name on the scoresheet. The score was extended soon into the second half with Rodrigues getting a well deserved third from a goalmouth scramble; smashing the ball through the defender on the line. 5-0.
With this changes were made with more debuts; Owen Scerri coming on for Welch and Sam Cairns on for Dengate. Cairns made an instant impact slotting home to make it 6-0 and then arguably the best goal of the game. Rodrigues made a great run down the right and his “rabona” cross was met by Cairns, whose headed found the corner, much to the delight of the crowd. 7-0.
Rodrigues then left the fray with 20 minutes remaining and was replaced by Callum Church, who almost scored with his first touch, but his shot from just inside the box was dragged wide. The final change saw Charlie Haines replace Baker in the heart of defence. Cairns had a third goal cancelled out by the offside flag, despite a great lobbed finish and with that the whistle blew for a very positive performance and result.
Performance Coach Dave Hall was extremely pleased with the performance “it was great to see all the work on the training pitch that the squad has done come to fruition. It was also so pleasing to see players earning the right to play and really pressing their case for starting places. I gave individual players challenges during the game and they certainly showed improved game intelligence and quality. Lucas was outstanding today and was a fantastic role model to the first year players and I know his performance will be a catalyst for his season at a higher senior level as well as inspiring the whole squad to take their performances to a whole new level. I’m looking forward to the group taking this confidence into the rest of the season as the standards have now been set.”