Performance Coach Dave Hall was looking for a response from the Worthing College ECFA side after last week’s lacklustre performance on the opening day of the season. The training week was a positive one with certain aspects worked on and players showing development in their performance.
Hall’s hands were tied somewhat with 9 players being unavailable either through first team commitments the night before or injury. This however allowed more of a fresh impetus with 6 first year players in the starting 11 and by the end of the game 8 were on the pitch, so a great grounding for the future at National League level.
Goalkeeper Rhys Edwards, defender Kai Dove, midfielder Callum Litterick and winger Tobi Minter made their debuts with Joe Kinsman and James Younger making their second appearance at this level.
Worthing started in a positive frame of mind; showing their game intelligence by sticking to the game plan set out, which allowed them to take control of the early proceedings. Skipper Luke Brodie had the first chance of the afternoon, but his header from a Jack Newhouse free kick went over the Oaklands bar.
The debutants were making a positive start to their College careers with Litterick working with Newhouse and Jamie Franking in the midfield to cut out any danger and to start dangerous attacks. Newhouse was a constant threat and his positive run and shot stung the palms of the Oaklands keeper.
Kai Dove was definitely making a name for himself and he was getting about the Oaklands forward; being strong in the air and assured in the tackle. He was a real threat from set pieces; looking to get the first contact wherever he could.
Despite Worthing’s dominance they didn’t break the deadlock and at this level that can be a very dangerous thing, but to their credit the players had taken on what they were working on in training with the back four of Jed Dossett, Dove, Matt Hubbard and Younger keeping a disciplined shape to their game.
As the half grew on Oaklands came into the game and almost broke the deadlock after a great run from their number 8, keeper Rhys Edwards made an excellent stop to deflect his strike over the bar. However it wasn’t long before Oaklands took the lead. A corner was half cleared and a strong tackle led to a fortunate deflection into the path of the Oaklands number 14, who curled the ball past Edwards into the net 0-1.
This didn’t deter Worthing and at half time the focus was to continue to keep the shape and discipline, but to exploit the wide areas and be clinical. Worthing started the half bright and looked to get in behind their opponents. With this Oaklands began to use their strength when running with the ball and broke at pace. Again another excellent save from Edwards, who tipped a shot onto the bar impressively.
Dove and Hubbard were resolute in defence, however the lead was extended after a quick breakaway from the Oaklands attack. A last ditch attempt from Dossett led to injury and he was replaced by Harrison Mott. 0-2.
Callum Chalmers came on for Minter and his impact was extremely positive with his direct approach and fair play to the Worthing College side they halved the arrears pretty much straight away, with Joe Kinsman stabbing home a cross 1-2.
Worthing now started to believe they could get something from the game and started to pressurise the Oaklands defence. Worthing forced many set pieces with Dove and Litterick going close. Newhouse was the catalyst from set pieces with his quality and should have equalised with an exquisite effort from 25 yards, however the Oaklands keeper was inspired and somehow clawed his effort out and past the post.
Giuseppe Gaute Lammi replaced the tireless Frankling and provided fresh discipline in possession and Worthing continued to press. Kinsman failed to finish a free flowing move involving Newhouse and Brodie. With time running out Chalmers showed an excellent first touch, but a last ditch Oaklands tackle stopped him from equalising.
Worthing thought they had equalised in the last minute with Litterick’s effort coming off the post and Dove heading home, but the former was adjudged to be in an offside position.
Despite the defeat Performance Coach Hall was pleased with the response “all players showed today that they belong at this level. Their application and game intelligence was in evidence and they will take heart from this. On another day a draw would be a fair result, however with the quality at this level when on top you need to be clinical and this is something that we need to take onto the rest of the season. I was really impressed with the response and I’m looking forward to seeing the development of these players as the season continues.”