Another crop of Worthing’s emerging teenage talent got a run-out last night as Loxwood completed their pre-season preparations ahead of their opening game at Lancing on Saturday.
After the goal-laden exploits of the previous two friendlies, Worthing played out their first goalless draw of the Summer at Southern Combination League, Loxwood.
On a glorious evening at what is, without doubt, one of the most picturesque grounds in the County, Worthing found chances more difficult to come by at times while their hosts, despite their best efforts, only forced Lucas Covolan into one serious save.
It was one of the relative veterans, Will Miles who got the ball rolling as early as the fifth minute, when his searching pass picked out Jas Pattenden making a run through the middle but the home ’keeper was out quickly to make the block. The closed-season signing from Burgess Hill then had a go himself after Darren Budd’s corner found him lurking on the edge of the penalty area but again, the home side’s number one denied the centre-half.
The next chance of the game fell to The Magpies, when former Worthing protege, Matt Hards stung the finger tips of Covolan who was forced to tip his twenty-five yard piledriver over the bar.
Pattenden was inches away from connecting with Jazz Rance’s left wing cross before Rance himself saw his shot deflected behind for a corner. There was a brief scare for the visitors when Miles went down in the centre circle and limped off to be replaced by Tyrese Mthunzi. (Those fears were soon allayed though when he re-appeared for the second-half.)
Loxwood were next to try and break the deadlock when their right-back fizzed an effort wide after a succession of right-wing corners. The first three had all been temporarily cleared by Club Captain, Budd.
Joe Clarke had a near-post flick well saved at the end of a move which had seen him latch onto a neat pass inside from Pattenden, who had made good progress down the right flank. However. It was very nearly the home team who headed into the break with a one goal advantage, only a last-ditch block by Joel Colbran denying his former club.
With everyone relieved to see Will Miles re-emerge for the second-half, it was a barnstorming run from Pattenden who, unfortunately couldn’t round things off with a finish to match, that opened proceedings after a mere two minutes.
The Magpies then flew down the other end on the counter attack but the final shot went wide of the visitor’s goal.
A Rance free-kick drifted harmlessly across the area after Pattenden had been brought down on the right-hand edge of the box, followed by Clarke going close again after running onto a long ball. The ‘keeper out decisively to nick the it off the tall midfielder’s toes. With a little under fifteen minutes to go, Matt Boiling, who had been a rock at the back all evening, got in a cross for Clarke who, this time, couldn’t keep his header down. Tom Colbran, younger brother of Joel, then came on for the former Selsey man to make his first team debut.
The last few minutes saw the home side fire narrowly off target before a golden opportunity presented an unmarked Luca Cocoracchio with the chance to take the victory but his header gave Loxwood’s substitute keeper a comfortable catch.
Although there might not have been any goals, Worthing can take heart form the fact that they had five sixteen-year-olds on the pitch by the end of the game, with Taylor Keen completing the quintet and, along with Jas Pattenden, playing the full ninety minutes. Loxwood too, more than played their part in a competitive but entertaining affair.
WORTHING: Covolan, J.Colbran, Boiling, Miles (Mthunzi 33’, Miles 46’, Cocoracchio 85’), Barker, Rance, Ovenden (Mthunzi 67’), Clarke (T.Colbran 81’), Budd, Pattenden, Keen.
Referee – John Pike Assistants – Ben Cripps & Brian Richardson ATT – 42