Worthing Hockey Club Mens 4s triumphant

Worthing Hockey Club Mens 4s triumphant this weekend as St. Francis were rocked by strikes from Holloway and Bates

Worthing Men’s 4th XI maintained their unbeaten start to the season – but had to really dig deep for their three points in a very even and hard-fought contest. St Francis looked dangerous for the entire 70 minutes and will feel unlucky to drive back to Haywards Heath empty handed. This result moves Worthing to second in the league – sitting just below Brighton, their south-coast neighbours

SCORE 2 – 1
Worthing 4s – 2 (Holloway, Bates)
St Francis – 1 (Number 80)

For Holloway, a pleasing result and what he termed a ‘proper performance’. “Victories like this,” he continued, “are a by-product of a larger vision. And it all begins with a question – How much do we owe each other?”

St Francis’ captain, Phelps, was sanguine in defeat “The team played really well. We had a number of chances and converted none of six penalty corners – on another day we could easily have got three or four. We felt we played well enough for the result but sometimes that’s the way it goes.”

Worthing sported a number of changes from the previous week: Sanyo-Merrymaker returned from injury; Watkins came back to bolster the midfield; and Sephton – who turned in an ultimately match winning performance in goal – was their third keeper in as many weeks. Holloway also bravely dropped top-scorer Allan – after his 3 cards in last week’s Mid-Sussex fixture – to make space for young Bates, in a stroke dropping the combined team age by 40 years.

In the first quarter Worthing looked to maintain possession and work out their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses while not expending too much energy, for St Francis had arrived with a full complement of substitutes and an obviously younger and fitter team. Neither side were able to show any dominance in the middle and it was clear even from the early exchanges that this would be a war of attrition.

In the seventeenth minute Fuller was responsible for breaking the deadlock, finding Holloway in space who continued to showcase his ability to score simple goals from 5 yards. The goal appeared to settle Worthing’s nerves but St Francis continued to prove dangerous on the break. While the golden defence had their opposing forward line well-shackled – the speed and skill of the visitors’ midfield kept keeper Sephton busy and alert – whether advancing high in his D to cut out through balls, or saving and quickly clearing his lines. The oldster looks like a keeper in all senses of the word.

After the break the 3rd quarter followed a similar pattern – with St Francis refusing to slow and Worthing straining their older bodies to cut out the threats and create opportunities whenever possible. Eventually Bates, who appeared to struggle with the step-up to this level in the first half, grew into his role and saw his perseverance pay off in the 45nd minute. He peeled off his defender, momentarily creating just enough space to receive a pass and get away a flick. The save and rebound went straight up and he was first to react swatting the ball down and into the now unguarded net.

Even at 2-0 it never felt like Worthing were secure as St Francis probed for a way back into the tie. It looked like they had their lifeline after 50 minutes, when they manufactured an opportunity during a chaotic goalmouth scrum. However as the ball headed goalward and past Sephton’s outstretched left hand – Northam appeared on desperate covering run to drive it safely round the upright.

Whether due to pressure, tiredness or a desire to protect their lead – Worthing started to play too deep, inviting St Francis onto them and unable to find outlets to relieve the pressure. Their discipline also started to slip with Ansell receiving a green card for backchat and Holloway lucky to escape with only a 2 minute rest on the sideline after executing a tackle straight from the Saracen’s training manual. But St Francis were unable to convert their pressure until the last minute with the goal of the match – sweeping up the left, bypassing the tired Worthing defence and on to the back post where their right-midfielder completed an arcing run to stand unmarked and sweep in at the back post.

Next up for Worthing – a trip to Falmer to play Hailsham who are currently sitting just below them in third position, and a chance to cement them as one of the teams to fear this season.

Cards: Ansell (G): Holloway (G)

Worthing 4s team : Ramiz Ahmed, Matt Ansell, Josh Barron, Thomas Bates, David Edmondson, Rex Fuller, Simon Holloway (Capt.), Rod Horne, Phil Hoy, Martin Northam, Ian Penny, Adrian Sanyo-Merrymaker, Matt Sephton (GK), Neil Watkins.