Worthing Men’s 4th XI kept their unbeaten start to the season alive on Saturday (17 October 2020), scoring early and never looking back to put away a skilful Hailsham outfit at Falmer.
A brief but energetic warm-up, coupled with Edmondson’s calm insistence to keep playing the game ‘right way’, put the veterans in gold on the front foot from the off. The game’s opening phase of play saw quick ball movement and multiple transfers to use both flanks, the very embodiment of what ‘The Ted’ had implored his troops to do.
After five minutes the hosts had already been pulled out of their starting shape, beginning some early Halloween preparations with a good degree of chasing shadows and looking over their shoulder. Worthing were able to capitalise as good work down the right saw the ball transferred to Smith and then Ansell before the predatory skipper Holloway rammed it home for a 1-0 lead.
Worthing 4th XI 5 (Holloway x2, Ansell x2, Smith)
Hailsham 2nd XI 1
With Hailsham rocked and the attendant masses silenced, the ruthless 4s put their foot on the opposition’s throat. First a short-corner strike from Ansell ricocheted up to be finished with aplomb courtesy of a backhand swat from Smith – queue muted celebration. And then soon after, following a few near misses, the visionary Ansell was able to fire a lightening pass through the eye of a needle for Holloway to meet at full pace for a classy, trademark deflection goal.
At 3-0 Worthing were able to take some of the sting out of the game and control proceedings with good ball movement and team shape. The measured assurance of Edmondson and Northern at the back gave the team real confidence and solidity, while the combination of Allan and Watkins down the right was a constant thorn in the side of the oppiosition.
Yet Hailsham weren’t without threat. In the form of their classy number 7 fresh from his recent tour fronting up a Bon Jovi tribute act and backed up by the diminutive but equally skillful number 4, they had the keys to unlock the old golds. Too often players were baited into diving in on the tackle, only to be beaten by impressive sleight of hand and if it wasn’t for the superb positioning and excellent reflexes of Worthing custodian Price, arrears could have been reduced before half-time.
However, reaching the interval three goals to the good, Worthing were able to feel happy about their work so far and consolidate the pre-match messages. This showed in an impressive second half opening which saw a return to ball control and solid decision making, allowing territorial dominance to be reestablished. Pressure lead to multiple short-corners and from the second of these Ansell was able to add to his first half assist work with a goal of his own, a typically venomous strike too much for the defenders ‘balsa wood’ reverse stick stop.
Profligate finishing from Duncan and the hard-working Hoy kept the score at 4-0, the former resembling a tugboat captain lost in thick fog as he rounded the keeper but lost his bearings. But the fifth soon came, Fuller capping an excellent midfield display with a brilliant through ball to Ansell on the right edge of the ‘D’, the power and precision of ‘Cylinders’ finish once again too much for the opposition.
To the home sides credit, they refused to let the game become a rout. The Worthing midfield became hard-pressed to contain the runs of the Hailsham playmakers, Penney instrumental in holding them at bay using his ‘magic wand’ to nip promising attacks in the bud with regularity. Chipperfield, deputising for the injured Edmondson also had to produce a series of heroic last ditched tackles in the back left corner, while Smith showed great ‘legs’, victim of a personal crusade by the Hailsham ‘young guns’ to run him ragged.
And as Worthing finally tired – as befits a squad with an average age of 72 – even the hitherto flawless central axis of Northern and Fuller proved fallible, taking one too many liberties in their own ‘D’. This pressure finally bore fruit, Hailsham grabbing a deserved consolation goal to see the game finish 5-1 and send their loyal band of supporters home with something to remember.
Overall this was an excellent team performance from the men in gold, one that saw Worthing 4th XI breath rarified air at the top of the table – for now at least.