South Park made the relatively short journey down to The South Coast from Reigate. With the visitors undergoing a large turnaround of players under new Manager, Mick Sullivan it was down to the home side to stamp their authority on the game on a swelteringly hot July afternoon.
Playing in their change kit it was an unfamiliar looking Worthing who lined up with Summer signings James Crane and Callum Kealy in the first half alongside Academy prospect Luca Cococracchio and former Lewes, Shoreham and Sussex U-18 player Ricky Aguiar. While Trialist ‘A’ completed the “ and who’s that ? “ round of questions on the starting Xl.
With only Camels and a sand storm missing from a scorching Sunday afternoon, it was the visitors who were the first to test the early reflexes of Lucas Covolan as the Brazilian got down to parry an early sighter. This, however, was quickly followed by the first of two early goals for the men usually in red as, from a Jesse Starkey corner Joe Clarke laid the ball back to a waiting Ricky Aguiar who drilled home low into the bottom corner of Michael Eacott’s net from all of twenty yards. Putting it nicely out of reach of the former Sutton Common Rovers custodian.
A similar set-piece routine also produced the second goal just five minutes later as Danny Barker headed home directly from another Starkey delivery from the left. It was nearly a third when another debutant, Callum Kealy swivelled and fired narrowly over the bar form long range.
Neat play from the impressive Aguiar saw him play in Jesse Starkey who forced Eacott to save low down to his left at the expense of a corner but it was South Park who were the next side to score when, a loose ball from Joel Colbran saw Kyen Nicholas capitalise and advance towards the box before slotting through the legs of the onrushing Covolan. The remaining eighteen minutes of the first half saw referee, Dan Austin allow a sensible number of drinks breaks in the stifling conditions and although South Park got forward on a couple of occasions, they did so without really threatening to add to their tally.
The second forty-five minutes got underway after both teams made wholesale changes at the break, with the “Reds” giving further debuts to young former Bognor prospect, Dylan Jelley, one of our own under-18’s, Jasper Pattenden, Academy hopeful Tyrese Mthunzi, former Rebel, Curt Gayler and a number nine who’s fifteen goals went a long way to seeing Tooting & Mitcham United to promotion in 2017, Danny Bassett. While Lucas Covolan was the only one to play the full ninety minutes, there were also roll-on roll-off appearances from the bench for last season’s top-scoring under-18, Hayden Skerry and a second un-named trialist in both halves.
It was Worthing this time who created the first chance of the second period, when a Sam Rents free-kick from the left found its way across goal to Dylan Jelley but he could only fire wide. A minute later and The Sparks from South Park nearly produced an equaliser when Cyril France had a chance but was only able to find the side netting. Jazz Rance then had the next chance of the afternoon after cutting in from the inside left channel and seeing his shot blocked on the edge of the area by a visiting defender. Within a minute another set piece delivery from Captain, Sam Rents, this time from the right drifted on to the roof of the net. Tyrese Mthunzi won possession midway into the South Park half and found fellow debutant, Danny Bassett whose low cross picked out Jazz Rance who fired over the bar as chances increased in the early stages of the second half.
As the pace of the game started to match the weather, it became the turn of the men from leafy Surrey to call the ‘keeper in to action, as Daniel Odoh stung the palms of our Brazilian number one with a low, angled drive.
With the respective benches starting to organise their own barbeques in the intense heat, there was a brief flurry of late chances with the returning Gayler seeing his effort drift harmlessly wide and the lively Rance firing the wrong side of the post from just outside the penalty area. The final minute saw young Jasper Pattenden – one of four sixteen-year-olds to get an early runout for us this afternoon – force a corner which was played short to Hayden Skerry but he could only pull his low shot across the face of goal.
WORTHING 1st Half: Covolan, Colbran, Crane, Budd ©, Cocoracchio, Barker, Trialist ‘A’, Clarke, Kealy, Starkey, Aguiar SUBS; Skerry, Trialist ‘B’
2nd Half: Covolan, Rents ©, Jelley, Edwards, Pattenden, Parsons, Mott, Mthunzi, Gayler, Rance, Bassett SUBS; Skerry, Trialist ‘B’
SOUTH PARK 1st Half: Eacott, Andy Jones, Jake Hill, Nicholas, Russell Harvey, Joel Thompson, Oche Alyd, Gianni Ashley, Michael Sabino, Ekow Owuso, Jake Tregas
2nd Half: Kerry Kedze, Romaine Reynolds, Tevon Webster, John Ufah, Tijani Eshilokin, Odoh, Hero Jess King, France
REF – Dan Austin ASSTS – Matt Lee & Jon Wilks ATT – 202