The Worthing College Men’s Football ECFA XI begun a busy and pivotal week in their season with a tough Sussex Schools County Cup quarter final. With the ESFA National Cup quarter final on the Friday; Performance Coach Dave Hall made four changes to the starting line up that took on the FAB Academy a week previously. Centre halves Max Baker and Callum Litterick came in along with Tobi Minter and full back Ruben Denyer-Schneider.
The weather and overall conditions were potentially going to play a part, so the importance would be to start on the front foot, however both sides were giving up possession far too easily in the opening exchanges. Worthing seemed to be a yard or so off the pace, however wingers Minter and Lewis Broughton began to take the game to their full backs with positive runs and deliveries into the Steyning penalty area.
Midfielder Ricky Aguiar tested the Steyning goalkeeper on more than one occasion in the first half, the most impressive was a free kick, which was well executed, but very well saved by the Steyning stopper.
Steyning too were having some joy with the wind at their backs. The skilful number 11 looked to take on Worthing Colleges’ James Younger at every occasion in what was turning out to be a great 1v1 battle. Steyning were creating openings and a mistake by the Worthing College backline led to the Steyning number 9 being through on goal, however he dragged his shot wide.
With these chances Steyning didn’t really test Worthing College keeper Luke Ramsay and to his credit his distribution and handling in the conditions were excellent.
As the half wore on Worthing College began to turn the screw, but Steyning’s defence was resolute. A fantastic block by the Steyning number 3 stopped Minter from getting on the scoresheet also both the Steyning keeper and centre back thwarted Worthing College striker Luke Brodie on more than one occasion.
So at the half it was honours even and the focus at half time was to get closer to the opposition, but also maintain discipline and not to get frustrated as some of the combination play in the first half was very good.
Unfortunately centre back Max Baker had to make way just after half time due to injury. Baker was replaced by Kai Dove. The play was now in the majority was being played in the Steyning half with the midfield three of Aguiar, Jamie Frankling and Harrison Mott getting on the ball and moving it forward to create chances. Minter and Broughton were having superb matches with their approaches and Broughton in particular was giving his full back a torrid time and delivery was just evading the onrushing strikers.
Worthing College have worked extensively on set pieces and a corner was to break the deadlock. Another exceptional Aguiar delivery was met by Brodie, who cleverly headed the ball across the box to be met by Litterick, who slammed the ball home. 1-0.
Worthing College should have kicked on from there, however Steyning were always a danger and they didn’t take too long to get back on terms. A fantastic covering tackle by Younger led to a Steyning corner, which wasn’t cleared and Steyning nodded home on the second phase of play. 1-1.
Worthing College needed to stay calm and more chances came, but unfortunately for them time was running out. Skipper Frankling chested and volleyed an attempt, which hit the post. Broughton has a shot deflected wide, Brodie had a glorious chance, which was met by an exceptional block and a couple of Aguiar free kicks grazed the cross bar. The tireless Mott was replaced by Darius Goldsmith and his defensive play and intelligence in possession gave Worthing College a fresh impetus to proceedings.
Time was running out, but to their credit Worthing College kept pushing for that winner and it came right at the end of the game. A Kai Dove header was controlled by Aguiar, who drove across midfield and combined with Broughton. A cheeky back heel from Aguiar played in Broughton, who beat his man and drove the ball into the far corner. 2-1. Cue some crazy celebrations.
With that Worthing College had a couple more plays to see out and this was done to send them into the County Cup Semi Finals for the fifth time in six seasons.
Performance Coach Dave Hall was delighted with how the players conducted themselves “today was always going to be an extremely tough game. Steyning are an excellent side with a lot of County Cup pedigree and potentially some of our players had their eye on the Hartpury game on Friday. We started slowly, but to the players credit they stuck together and worked as a pack to ensure that they worked out any problems on the pitch for themselves. This is a sign of how far these players have come in terms of their development. The Football Performance Programme is all about education and learning, with this the teams set pieces and team dynamics were outstanding in difficult conditions, which is something as coaching staff we were so pleased that what was worked on in training came off in the game. I’m so proud of all their efforts and the squad can now fully focus on Friday’s historical game. So time to actively recover and refocus to take on the best team in England.”