The Worthing College AoC XI made a positive start to their AoC Cat 2 league campaign away at Merrist Wood to their 1st XI. This was a great opportunity for Performance Coach Jimmy Punter to cast his eye over largely a first year squad; 11 of the 15 man squad made their debuts for the college, Sam Cairns captained the side and the pre match focus was on maintaining good defensive shape and playing the conditions on what can be a tricky surface to play on.
Worthing College dominated early proceedings in the game, with the midfield trio of Ollie Perrin, Callum Thoms and Dean Sherwood looking to stretch the opposition back four with a series of accurate diagonal balls. Sam Cairns threatened with his blistering pace on the right hand side whilst Sherwood looked to control the tempo of the game in the centre of the park. Unfortunately against the run of the play the Merrist Wood forward created the first threatening chance of the game which he clinically put away. 0-1.
The reaction of the players was astounding, still looking to dominate the game they pressed on and their efforts were rewarded. A delightful whipped cross from the left hand side was met by Cairns at the back post to level the scores. 1-1. Intelligent pressing from the away side led to the opposition centre halves having to clip the ball long which was met by the towering CB partnership of Charlie Knight and Alex Webber with Jack Spence DeBoer claiming some tricky high balls. After a poor clearance from the opposition GK, Sherwoods speculative 40 yard effort sailed over the keeper and into the net to put the visitors on top. 1-2.
After a good start to proceedings, Worthing College had a laboured start to the second half, being ponderous both in and out of possession. This was an awakening to the level they play at, as not only did the hosts punish them to draw level but minutes later they took the lead through poor defensive positioning. 3-2. Earlier substitutes of Zac Ross (for Sherwood) and Harry Farmer (for Thoms) started to grow into the game and put us back on the front foot. But it was another sub that swung momentum back in our favour. Lewis Burgess replaced Jez Sutton at full back and it was his marauding run that led to him being taken down inside the penalty area. Geal stepped up to the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way. 3-3. The fresh impetus came as too much for hosts with Burgess again being instrumental in his forward runs that led, after a scuffle in the box, to Geal smashing in his 2nd from outside the box. 3-4. Merrist Wood nearly drew level at the death with a header that flew narrowly over the bar, however Worthing closed the game out with the final whistle signalling our first win of the season.
Performance Coach Jimmy Punter was pleased with the players comeback “Today I thought the group really showed they have the character to excel at this level. It can be difficult to come back and win after being behind twice, however I was impressed with the maturity and attitude of the players and how they responded to key moments in the game. Although a poor start to the second half showed how easy it is to be punished at this level, we regained our composure which lead to a real positive start to our campaign.”