The Worthing College Men’s Football ECFA XI were looking to develop upon the performances of the last two matches and in front of them was a visit to one of the national homes of sport, in the form of Bisham Abbey.
Due to injuries, Ryman Premier and Sussex FA commitments again changes were made with Alex Webber and Ricky Aguiar making their full debuts and Jake Heryet coming back into the front three. Harrison Mott and Joe Kinsman made way and started on the bench. Darius Goldsmith and Lewis Burgess made their debuts on the Worthing College bench.
FAB Academy are regarded by many as one of the best teams across the ECFA National Leagues, winning this National League for the last four seasons. The lavish Bisham Abbey playing surface was sure to produce a great performance from both sides.
The Worthing game plan was to frustrate by being compact and then looking to use the ball sensibly when in possession. FAB looked to stamp their authority on the game from the start, but keeper Luke Ramsay was in fine form and made a couple of early saves.
However just after the ten minute mark FAB took the lead after a long ball from the back and the powerful number 9 stole the ball from Webber and finished with aplomb. 1-0 FAB.
With FAB having the lionshare of possession Worthing could have folded and let their illustrious opponents take the game away from them. However to their credit Worthing stuck to the game plan and the task at hand. Callum Litterick and Jamie Frankling in the centre of the park were biting into tackles and doing some excellent tracking work. Aguiar on debut was getting himself around the park and standing up to FAB technically by looking to start attacks for the visitors. Winger Callum Chalmers was also testing his full back and a positive run and cross was just not supported by the incoming Heryet.
Heryet himself was working hard in both directions and his shift and hit tested the keeper. Worthing needed to be on their toes to ensure that FAB didn’t double the lead. Full back James Younger headed off the line from a corner with Ramsey and centre back Kai Dove producing vital blocks at vital times.
As the half grew Worthing began to get the ball down and found space in the FAB midfield. A great counter attack involving Luke Brodie, Aguiar and Heryet resulted in the latter striking the ball against a post, but it wouldn’t have counted as the linesman’s flag was up. Worthing were showing an intelligent shape and this was in evidence when Frankling nicked the ball on the edge of the box and was fouled. Unfortunately the resulting free kick from Brodie was blocked by the wall. Chalmers again ran through, but his shot was saved with the feet of the FAB keeper.
With all the work rate and endeavour that Worthing had put in it was vital that at half time they discussed about being more brave, not too deep and being positive in possession.
However a real piece of quality extended the lead just after half time. Heryet had sprinted through and had a powerful shot saved by the FAB keeper, however the ball was retrieved into the FAB midfield and four excellent combination passes found the number 9 to get his second of the game. 2-0.
Again some may have thrown in the towel, but from this Worthing arguably had their best spell of the game. Webber who has performed admirably was replaced by Goldsmith with Litterick moving to centre back. Worthing began to move the ball through the thirds positively with Brodie working tirelessly up front and was rewarded by driving through only for his shot to be saved by the FAB keeper and Aguiar fluffed his lines on the follow up.
As the half grew on the legs got tired, but this allowed Performance Coach Hall to make more changes to provide these players a positive experience for their development. Tobi Minter replaced Chalmers and looked to get onto the ball straight away. Younger cramped up after a mammoth shift and was replaced by Burgess for his debut. Making three subs may have hampered the flow of play, however this wasn’t the case with Worthing continuing to try and frustrate FAB and when chances came their way they were either wayward with their shooting or Ramsey was again on hand to make the important saves.
Brodie shifted out to the right and this alteration almost got Worthing back into the game. His cross was met powerfully by Heryet, but his effort curled just over the bar. With time running out Frankling and Heryet made way for Mott and Joe Kinsman, who both made an impact in and out of possession. Another strike from Aguiar was dragged wide and with that was the end of the game.
Despite the start to the season results wise Performance Coach Dave Hall is seeing progression “today we finished with eight first year players on the pitch and had eleven in the squad against one of the best sides they will play at this level. Great credit to how the side are developing their game intelligence as their coaching staff were extremely complimentary stating that we are the best side they have played so far this season. However to continue to move into the right direction we need to be more brave in possession and clinical in front of the goal to turn these performances into results. This will come as the work ethic and levels have been consistent for the last three games. Its also great to give these players the experience to play at facilities, such as Bisham Abbey and against side like the FAB Academy. These experience are unique and will only enhance their performances in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing how this group continue to work and develop.”