Worthing 4’s go top after dominant display against league rivals East Grinstead

Worthing Men’s 4s now look set to finish the year sitting top of the league after turning over EG at their home stronghold. Unless political will or medical science transforms the nation’s resistance to coronavirus over the next couple of months, it looks like this weekend’s action may be the last of 2020. Against this backdrop Worthing headed to Grinstead for a top-of-the-table clash – and duly came away with 3 well-deserved points.

Holloway focused on the performance of the team “I’m very pleased with the way we played, especially as we had a number of changes to the team today. While we lost Ansell in the middle, the youngster Pease turned in a really solid performance – and McConachie also chipped in with a goal on debut. We got the win, we top the league, we’re unbeaten. Vincere est totum.

Worthing 3 – 2 East Grinstead

Scorers: Pease, McConachie, Holloway

Worthing adopted a 4-1-3-2 formation with Fuller sitting in front of the back 4 – the role Nobby Stiles, who died earlier this week, had played during England’s 1966 World Cup triumph. Fuller reprised Stiles’s ‘spoiler’ role disrupting EG’s attacks – which invariably came straight down the middle with wily EG veteran Mogg providing an extra man in their attempts to capitalise on route-one hockey.

Worthing controlled the first 15 minutes. While EG had plenty of possession, little of it was meaningful as their pockets were picked whenever they ventured into the final quarter of the pitch. Worthing were happy to sit back and, when the ball was turned over, they looked to benefit from their strong running in broken play – relying on Ahmed and Duncan to pull and stretch at the relatively weak EG back 2. The first goal, however, came from the central-midfield as Pease spied a narrow gap open up ahead of him, drove his way forward into the D and unleashed a strike into the top left corner of the goal just before the despairing covering tackle arrived. The hours on the golf course may have dimmed his work-rate but have certainly sharpened his shooting.

Following Worthing’s goal, EG seemed to find their footing and there followed a period of sustained pressure on Cooper’s goalline as EG camped out in Worthing’s 25. EG won, and were denied at consecutive penalty corners and then, just as the danger seemed to have passed, came the first contentious decision of the game. A penalty corner awarded against Worthing after the ball deflected off a stick and out. Even EG scratched their heads but were happy for the third opportunity and made this one count. The corner was slipped left where a sharp shot across the keeper somehow snuck in at the far post.

By now Worthing had worked out that the bounce off the water-based astro – combined with the opposition’s high line and less than confident centre backs – made the long aerial a potent attacking threat. McConachie in particular was throwing the ball long whenever expedient – and this not only gave Worthing attacking options but forced the men in white to sit deeper to protect their goal.

With 5 minutes remaining until the break Worthing took back their lead. Holloway’s shot was denied on the goaline and the umpire’s whistle signalled a flick just as Holloway muscled the ball over at his second attempt. This intervention was to have no bearing on the end result though, as McConachie stepped up and put the flick into the roof of the net for a deserved 2-1 half time lead for the visitors.

This season Worthing appear to play their best hockey in the third quarter – and their worst in the fourth – and they duly delivered on this expectation in the second half.

EG were put to the sword after the break – not helped by their discipline falling apart. First, Martin got a green card for kicking the ball away to prevent a quick hit – an offense that he had got away with a couple of times in the first half. And then they were lucky to remain with 11 players on the pitch after an aggressive off-the-ball response to a tackle. The question appeared to be red or yellow, but the result was just a talking to. Manager Huntington after the game said he couldn’t remember the incident – but there is no doubt the aggression levels were raised from this point on.

At last Worthing got their third – and it was one of the goals of the season. Chipperfield worked the ball to Ahmed down the left who made ground to the byline and unleashed a sublime and vicious ball across the goal where Holloway delivered a trade-mark full-stretch diving deflection to beat the static keeper at the near post. Maybe 5 or 6 touches and 20 seconds from the halfway line to the back of the net and a 3-1 lead.

This brought on the final quarter which was again one of tension for Worthing – who had relinquished an identical lead the previous week. EG reduced the deficit to just one goal with 12 minutes still to play. Barron slightly misjudging a pass round the back which was pounced on by the lurking centre-forward. While Cooper saved the resulting shot, the rebound was turned in by the experienced Nuth. Generously EG then provided their own defensive lapse when Holloway pressured a pass round their centre-backs – but having won the ball he seemed surprised to be in possession with just a keeper in front of him and Ahmed to his left – and he tamely pushed the ball wide.

There is no doubt the home side had the best chances to score in the remaining 10 minutes. Throwing caution to the wind in their search for an equalizer they had a number of chances but the defensive wall, this week, held out.

Worthing 4s team : Ramiz Ahmed, Andy Allen, Josh Barron, Tim Chipperfield, Jack Cooper (GK), Mark Duncan, Dave Edmondson, Rex Fuller, Simon Holloway (Capt.), Rod Horne, Stuart McConachie, Martin Northam, James Pease.