Dismal day at The Hive

Ninety minutes into the season and already the word calamity is ringing around The Hive London. Well, not if you’re into weddings in a big way but the football is what we’re here for.

Circumstances dictate I can’t attend home games until the fixture list switches itself around, but I was there on Tuesday morning, invited up by Victoria Barlow who has marketing, ticketing and commercial under her umbrella.

Now please correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t recall seeing news of her appointment nor yet have I seen anything describing who our new media man is, I know his name is Howard and was interviewed by Victoria and the excellent departing Adam Rowe, I don’t doubt in time if he’s half as good as Adam then it’s another asset for the club and could we do with some of those.

Having to rely on Twitter for updates and Soccer Saturday alongside isn’t ideal but needs must. But, what unfolded before, during and after the game and upon reading the Only Barnet message board on Sunday evening honestly looks like 24 hours of a horror story.

It began before the game started, Charlie Cassen arriving to celebrate his birthday (happy belated birthday mate!) with a few beers watching the early Premier League kick off, only to find out the TV weren’t working and nor were their nozzles to pour the draught beer, bizarre when the two go hand in hand really.

Now bearing in mind there were two home games at the very end of May, there has been 11 weeks to have a ‘dry run’ ready for Saturday afternoon and by all accounts it failed miserably. The TV’s did finally get turned on but the beer didn’t get poured so I read.

Short staffed was again an issue inside Legends, beer fridges almost empty and no hot water to make tea and coffee in the tea hut, all in all things were going well then!

Then we had the issue of the match itself. Despite a goal-less first 45, County seemed to edge it and the less said about the second the better. Worrying how the team appeared to capitulate and fold very quickly and having seen the goals conceded it was like rewinding 12 months, County I do expect to be in the mix of course but I wasn’t expecting a 0-5 thumping.

And then to finish the day off you couldn’t get a car park token to exit from the Hive bar having to walk back round to Legends to get one, something else not communicated.

Really not the customer experience from start to finish and a lack of application on the pitch after half time and this was something I touched on last week when I went up to The Hive, the former is something Victoria is big on so now we’ll see what can be done to deliver that.

To cap it all there was a wedding I believe underneath the North Stand meaning no fantastic bar for County fans to use, and given they brought a magnificent support to the game they deserved better as well.

This all goes to show that while over the summer the recruitment on the pitch has been more professional than last year which in all honesty wasn’t hard, but off the pitch it can look and feel decidedly amateur, some of this stuff above is the mere basics you would expect at a Step 5 club, Barnet need to get this right.

There’s just seven days until the next home game and I would expect a lot of these issues to not rear their ugly head again, I’m still undecided if I go on Monday, plenty of people I would like to see having not been able to encounter them in well over a year.

I did say also last Tuesday I will criticise when we are poor but I will praise when we are good, this has many lessons to be learnt and needs to 100x better in seven days’ time or that goodwill built up over a decent pre-season won’t just evaporate on the pitch, there won’t be much left watching it off the pitch.

Rampant Littlehampton in dominant display

Tuesday night saw a trip to Steyning Town to watch them take on Littlehampton Town, the home side unbeaten after the first three games whilst their visitors were a point worse off at the start of play.

Littlehampton were without star striker Joe Benn who had contributed nine league and cup goals so far, but a very able replacement in George Gaskin moving further up the pitch complimented by Lucas Pattenden and Dion Jarvis either side.

It was Gaskin who opened the scoring after 11 minutes, Pattenden providing the cross after a period of intense pressing from the visitors which became the pattern of the game from the Golds.

Just a minute later, the same combination provided the second Littlehampton goal, the home defence unable to deal with Pattenden’s direct running and cross into the box, Gaskin unmarked to head home once again.

When you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the home side, a poor defensive clearance went straight to Tom Biggs and with patience to side step challenges and fashion an opportunity, the visitors had their third goal in three minutes, the home side shell-shocked.

The press continued from the Golds and Steyning were unable to take any time on the ball to make headway towards the visitors goal. Another poor clearance from a home defender went straight to the feet of Pattenden who skipped past his defender, shot across the keeper and into the net for 4-0.

It wasn’t too long to wait for the fifth goal to arrive, Liam Humphries unmarked at a corner headed home inside the six yard box with just under ten minutes left to play before half time.

With the interval looming, Jarvis bundled in a remarkable sixth goal on 40 minutes, again another cross from the right hand side where Pattenden had been so influential and capped a superb if unexpected half for Littlehampton.

The second half not surprisingly didn’t live up to its predecessor and in all honesty for the Golds it didn’t need to. There were chances to extend the lead further at times, Gaskin close to a hat-trick, Biggs dancing his way through more than once but unable to hit the net.

The hosts did have chances themselves but failed to properly test James Binfield in the visitors goal and a comfortable win was wrapped up without needing to push hard in the second half.

This was the third time in five league and cup matches that the Golds had hit six goals, all away from home and if Sittingbourne were watching ahead of the weekend’s FA Cup tie then they certainly went away with something to think about, Bourne themselves having dispatched Lancing last weekend 4-0 in their opening league match.

For the hosts a first league defeat of the season and it was overheard the home side were missing quite a few first team regulars but I’m sure their supporters certainly weren’t expecting to be turned over so easily.

Steyning also face an FA Cup tie this weekend as they host Sutton Common Rovers, a chance to put league matters to one side and grab some much needed winners money, they will however need to not be so generous defensively and if their opponents were watching they certainly would have come away with a game plan to make it a potentially uncomfortable weekend for the hosts.

National League North and South preview 2021/22

This coming weekend sees kick off for the National League North and South divisions, a further week to wait for the top division to get going but the two underlying sets of teams will be desperate to complete the new season for the first time in three years.

Two years without a completed season and minimal promotion from both divisions and no relegation has in my opinion led to a bit of stagnation, similar to Steps 3 and 4.

There is no doubt in my mind clubs are desperate to move and some of the signings this summer have been what I call intent! Intent to win, intent to compete, intent to give it a go.

Over this blog I plan to take a look at those I feel should be in the mix come the end of the season in both divisions, this game of opinions won’t please everyone and I don’t want it to, that’s the beauty of the game we love.

Starting in the North and being a southerner I can’t confess to following it as closely as the other end of the country but the eyes are on it don’t you worry! In both divisions there are some big clubs, big by name and history and big by the support they command. That though means nothing when it comes down to 11 vs 11 on the pitch.

When the season finished for these clubs in February, some let out a sigh of relief that things hadn’t gone to plan, namely Darlington and Blyth to pick out just two. Others such as Gloucester, AFC Fylde and a clutch of clubs just outside those play-offs who felt they had a chance of getting into those end of season games and probably let out sighs of anger instead.

And when you look at the quality that have arrived this summer in the North division, you know teams mean business and are desperate to get promoted. Striker Clayton Donaldson returns to York City to form an impressive front line with Kurt Willoughby and Jason Gilchrist, Steve Watson’s men were on the fringes of the play-off’s last year and those three the reason why they’re one of the bookies favourites.

AFC Fylde under Jim Bentley will be expected to challenge for the title as a full time outfit and having secured a majority of last season’s squad Bentley will hope continuity provides them with promotion foundations along with Stephen Dobbie as their stand out signing.

Gloucester will be looking to show last season was no flash in the pan and like quite a few other clubs have also retained most of last season’s squad. With experience at both ends of the park in Jake Cole and Matt McClure manager Paul Groves will be expecting more of the same from his side.

Boston Utd are another team who are one of the favourites to progress in front of their own fans at the new Jakemans Community Stadium. Impressive signings added to last season’s ranks include experienced defender Jake Wright and striker Danny Elliott, the latter a National League promotion winner at Hartlepool just last season.

A season that promises so much in the North, the title could go to a number of clubs in all honesty and I think if you finish in front of these four clubs then it’s all yours. One last word on this, the likes of York, Darlington, Chester, Gateshead and Spennymoor will believe the chance is there for them too and I can’t wait to watch the race unfold over the next nine months.

The South meanwhile has a few friends of mine in it, but that’s not going to cloud the judgement as we take a look at their division. Like the North division there were massive disparities in games played and while Dorking Wanderers were starting to pull away and an eight point gap from the last team in the play-off’s to the next games in hand for those below could have changed a lot for everybody.

As strong as Dorking were last year, they’ve strengthened again. Experienced keeper Lee Worgan and midfielder Bobby-Joe Taylor are two in the door and of course the goals of Jason Prior will keep them in the hunt. Dartford under Steve King are always there or thereabouts and the signing of striker Jake Robinson and once again shows they mean business.

Eastbourne Borough were third when the season ended, surprising a few people but not themselves. Danny Bloor is a very canny manager and gets the best out of his players, despite losing keeper Franco Ravizzoli to MK Dons they have retained most of last season’s squad and their strong link with QPR should once again see one or two on loan at Priory Lane.

Billericay Town under Kevin Watson are starting to build a good team and I expect them to be in the mix. Like quite a few other clubs in their division the ability to persuade players to drop down from the National League top division can well be the difference in quality, Charlie Lee and Marvel Ekpiteta are two who have made the move and with Watson able to keep the likes of Lawrie Wilson at New Lodge then play-off’s should be the ambition.

Maidstone Utd and Havant & Waterlooville will also be expecting better this time around, Haken Hayrettin at the Gallagher Stadium has also put together a squad with all his hallmarks on it while Paul Doswell will be hoping after a much changed squad last season didn’t quite get going consistently things improve this time around.

I like the signings Steve McKimm has made at Tonbridge Angels and they should certainly improve on what was a steady campaign last time out, the experience of Doug Loft has added to what is already a good spine of the team in Jonny Henly, Sonny Miles and Joe Turner.

Ebbsfleet have also recruited well, nine in total I believe it is now, and were going close last year at the time of the season’s suspension. Like a few others they have persuaded players to drop into the South such as Alex Finney and Craig Tanner from Aldershot, Joe Martin from Stevenage, whilst Elliott Romain has moved across from Dartford.

Not surprisingly Dorking and Dartford are seen as the favourites and like the North division, finish in front of those two and the title will more than likely be yours. However, this is a division of firepower and it might well come down to goal difference if someone is going to steal a march on another or someone is going to spring a surprise from within the pack of clubs I haven’t mentioned.

Come April next year we’re talking about an exciting season full of moments, drama, title wins, play-off wins and heartache and relegation despair, only then will we know football is truly back……………..

East Preston exit cup with a whimper

After Saturday’s exciting FA Cup Extra Prelim Round game involving East Preston and Badshot Lea ended in a draw, Tuesday evening was the night for the replay.

Having dispensed with replays last year due to time pressures in the early part of the season, it was a little odd to have them back and being a programme contributor for EP it meant an extra column to be written in time for the game.

The reason for the replay, a 3-3 draw at the weekend with EP 2-1 up at one stage but needing to pull out a 95th minute equaliser courtesy of Matt Storm’s second goal of the game.

On a beautiful sunny Sussex evening it was the visitors who drew first blood once again, Dean Rule being allowed to run pretty much unchallenged down the left hand side to eventually slot the ball past Sam Marsden inside the first five minutes.

The early goal looked to knock the stuffing out of the home side, unable to keep possession and Storm ploughing a lonely furrow against the tall, imposing Lea centre halves.

With EP struggling to create anything of note and the visitors playing tidy football it wasn’t a surprise to see Badshot extend their lead on 36 minutes, Rule involved again on the left hand side, brought down in the penalty area needlessly and Nick Medcraft stepped up to put the spot kick into the right hand corner to give the visitors a comfortable half time lead.

EP certainly had it all to do in the second half and did begin brightly, pressing much further up the pitch but unable to carve out a single clear cut opportunity on goal. Lea were managing the game time very well and didn’t really need to step out of second gear throughout the 90 minutes, content to shoot from range without seriously troubling Marsden.

The home side did have changes from a host of set pieces, but while the delivery into the box was good, no EP head was able to make contact with the ball leaving Badshot to progress safely into the Preliminary Round in a couple of weeks’ time leaving EP boss Simon Hull to reflect on the slow start which ultimately sent his game plan out of the window before it had even been put into action.

A home tie against Isthmian League outfit Corinthian is the reward for Badshot, a side who have done consistently well over the past few seasons culminating in promotion under the FA re-structure and they will provide a very stern test for Tuesday night’s victors.

Live streaming shouldn’t be ending

Last season we know was a different and difficult time across football, especially at non-league level. As clubs, as fans, as league officials, in a lot of cases we learnt to adapt as the season moved along its way.

One of things that happened and needed to very quickly was streaming of games mostly at National League level due to the branding of the ‘elite’ tag meaning they weren’t allowed spectators whilst those at Steps 3 and below saw their fans back inside until the suspension and ultimate culmination of their season came along.

Some of the quality was very good, some pretty shoddy and some well you wondered what you paid for in the first place. Granted a lot was put together in a short space of time but some clubs were still providing, well not sure you could call it a service, ropey efforts in February.

But, it seems, the FA who are re-instating the UEFA ruling, believe we’re all back to normal already, that the blackout from 3pm onwards on a Saturday returns in force this season once again but you have to ask yourself why?

Levels above non-league I fully understand, there are TV deals in place and to a degree you can argue the same for the National League clubs despite the North and South clubs not getting live coverage, so then why can’t it continue from Steps 3 and those below them?

Last season was innovative as it needed to be and while we are in a position to watch a game at all levels this season there are going to be people not comfortable with attending games at their local clubs.

Much like it’s personal choice about whether you wear a mask in public places or continue to want to social distance, the same could be said about attending a match in a stadium well populated by people, but by the same token there will some who are not comfortable with this.

Should they be discriminated against unable to watch their team when streaming games from the lower levels? Surely it’s going to add to the income home teams need to replace from last season and before, would it actually encourage away fans who are unable to travel to tune in?

I believe it would and I think this is a massive own goal of the highest proportions from the FA, I can’t say I’m surprised at all, I mean they’ve only had a few months to have a think about this and maybe actually do something for the good of the game, but hey let’s not get in the way of the shoddy job they do as the national association.

But the daft thing is it doesn’t appear to apply to midweek games, it’s about as clear as a government policy isn’t it! As long as you avoid the 2.45 – 5.15 section on a Saturday you’re free to do as you please but I can’t see clubs streaming bit parts of their season.

It should surely be an option if clubs want to explore it, there will be many below NL level that didn’t stream anything last year but why can they not give it go this year, floating fans might be picked plus also those visiting fans who can’t spare the time to travel could watch it live or even later in the day as a recorded option.

That’s not to say it will take away the experience of watching live inside a ground and nor would I want it to, it’s all about exploring the options for those less fortunate and those that need a little more time to feel comfortable around groups of people once again.

Surely, the FA should be lobbying for change due to our football system compared to the rest of Europe? At times though with the FA you’ve got to wonder if it’s 1921 we’re living in and not 2021………

Utd aiming to upset the status quo




A lot of towns and cities across the country host two teams, in some cases more, and at all levels of the game, the question here in this piece is can the town of Littlehampton in West Sussex be able to do the same?

Littlehampton Utd, born from a move of a club from the nearby village of Clymping, are one such club aiming to make their presence known and challenge the hierarchy within the Arun area.

Unable to progress as a club within the village due to a lack of floodlights and local residents against the idea, the club moved out and pitched up at The Sportsfield, home of Littlehampton Town.

They duly renamed the club in 2018 and benefitted from a beautiful playing surface along with floodlights and also a bar for players and supporters to use before and after the game.

But with the club wanting to expand itself and the capacity to host their new Under 23 side along with the various age groups that Town had to offer, Utd moved out over the summer and headed down the road to groundshare with East Preston FC at The Lashmar, a ground that will host two first teams and two Under 23 teams at the very least.

Had they tried to host both their senior teams at different venues then an increase in costs would have been seen and with clubs, nearly all clubs, managing to survive the last 16 months on very little football and very little income, cheap has to come into the reckoning.

As the Sportsfield is shared with the cricket club and with Town needing to maximise their availability there was little room for Utd to play home pre-season friendlies which again saw the need for somewhere new to play.

Under the chairmanship of David Chace, he appointed former East Preston man Chris Horner to run the first team for the 2021/22 season in which they are aiming to finish in the top four and be in the promotion mix to Division One, a progression they can now make with floodlights.

There is a long term aim to return to Littlehampton when the time is right and if they can find the area or land which would accommodate them and whilst away from the town the opportunity is there to build stronger foundations ready for the time to move on.

Currently they are putting in plans to improve the matchday experience for supporters and have recently recruited a PA announcer to give it that little extra edge, there are plans to bring more sponsors on board and to introduce a matchday raffle, small things in some cases but also vital to get things going.

With so many clubs within a five mile radius around the town of Littlehampton you have to put yourself out there a little bit more to attract players and make your club stand out, especially if you aren’t paying players to get out there on a Saturday afternoon.

That to me appears to be the only stumbling block, the amount of teams that are drawing on the same players Utd will want to attract to the club otherwise given what happens around the country there is no reason under the right leadership and progress there can be two senior Littlehampton teams, watch this space!

Pagham open account for the season

There was a little bit of a choice for games on Tuesday evening although some were a little hard to find than others. One criticism of the Southern Combination website is trying to find when cup games are being played, if it’s FA Cup or FA Vase it doesn’t seem a problem and with not every club prolific on social media, I’m sure there are a few fans lost, vital revenue for this season.

In the end there were about four or five choices and I plumped for the reversed fixture of Pagham and Broadbridge Heath, Heath’s home ground suffering a few issues with the travelling community.

The Lions began the season on Saturday with a 4-0 home defeat to Little Common, a surprising one for me as I tipped Kerry Hardwell’s team to do pretty well again this year given their squad contains a lot of players with experience of what is now the Pitching In Isthmian League.

The visitors meanwhile missed out on opening their campaign on Saturday after a heavy downpour put paid to the game at Hassocks, in contrast to the bright sunshine I was experiencing at Arundel on the opposite side of Sussex.

It was Heath who started the game in strong fashion as the Lions struggled to get onto the ball, and the visitors took the lead in just the fourth minute. Full back Cameron Watts’ delicious through ball sent Charlie Parmiter away through the middle of the Pagham defence and he slotted home past Connor Kelly.

With Pagham trying to play a high line throughout the first half, there were opportunities for Parmiter and Jamie Taylor to try and exploit as the Lions midfield pair of Joe Clarke and Ross Edwards found it hard to match their opposing counterparts.

Heath were only in front for 12 minutes, Pagham growing into the game and finding Callum Chalmers with acres of space on the right wing time after the time the goal was due to come, but from the opposite flank.

With Darren Currie on the phone in one ear, concentrating on the action was a little bit more difficult! Jack Langford was the scorer of the Lions equaliser as the home side grew into the game, Edwards and Clarke now beginning to get the measure of their opponents.

Both Langford and Chalmers were the out ball for the home side, both hugging their respective touchline and willing runners at the Heath backline and six minutes before the break Langford had his and Pagham’s second, a cross into the box from right to left found the winger and he smashed the ball home to put the Lions into a half time lead, although Heath will feel they had enough chances to be level or leading.

The second half was a very entertaining affair, Heath having switched Watts, who was the standout player for the visitors in the first half, into a more central role but didn’t quite deliver as well as he did in the first 45.

Heath certainly nullified the ball out to Chalmers and it was looking more likely that if the Lions were to score again it was going to come from Langford, either by creation or a shot on goal.

But, neither side were able to test each other’s keeper sufficiently and as we entered the final ten minutes when legs were beginning to tire Heath began to crank up the pressure.

Substitute Ben Cooksley had a glorious chance to equalise from a Jamie Taylor flick, but the angle took him wide and shot into the side netting. Moments later Taylor was in front of goal but volleyed wide after a great cross from the left hand side and you sensed it wasn’t going to be the visitors night.

Heath did have the ball in the net in stoppage time but was ruled out for offside and Hardwell’s men held on for their first win of the new season. Both sides now head into FA Cup action this coming weekend, facing fellow Southern Combination Premier Division sides in Littlehampton Town and Steyning Town.

Great to see Langford back out on the pitch with two well taken goals, and as Hardwell stated after Saturday’s defeat the lack of being able to get players on the pitch in pre-season due to the ‘ping’ etc you could see that across the game players needed a breather.

Heath will be wondering how they didn’t get anything from the game considering the amount of chances they created throughout but not enough hit the target and of course that is the difference, but it’s only 1-2 games into a 38 game season for both and plenty more opportunity to get points on the board.

Defeat for Arundel as Midhurst claim opening day points

After pre-season action it was finally time for league action and points on offer as 2021/22 kicked off for me and James Easton at Mill Road Arundel in the Southern Combination League Division One.

Midhurst and Easebourne were the visitors on a glorious sunny afternoon in West Sussex with both sides wanting to get their campaign off to a winning start. A summer of change for the Mullets in Jason Mines coming in to manage the team, assisted by Arundel veteran Richard Towers, both I know well from Wick FC days.

With Mines unavailable for the game, Towers was assisted by Aaron Millar, another known to me from those days at Crabtree Park and with a very young side in the red and white, it was interesting to see how they would fair against a visiting side who were in and around the thick of the promotion race last season before a halt was called.

Both sides were keen to knock the ball around on the slightly long playing surface which did make passing a little difficult if not needing to be very precise. Towers was forced into an early change on 26 mins, Ollie Hawkins replacing a limping James Ayling.

The Mullets thought they had taken the lead a minute later; the impressive Josh Mines shot was tipped onto the post by Josh Bird and then rolled along the goal-line without going over.

Midhurst did have the ball in the net on 35 minutes but the effort was ruled out for offside whilst five minutes later Mines had other shot tipped by Bird, this time onto the crossbar.

Then came the big talking point in the game and one that effectively decided the second half mentality. Hawkins was adjudged to have fouled his man just outside the penalty area and was promptly sent off, protests from the Arundel sideline that the decision was harsh, backed up by some independent spectators view that the foul wasn’t even really worthy of a yellow, the referee actually quite card happy throughout the game with yellow cards flying here there and everywhere.

The free kick came to nothing and the sides went in level at half time, both probably feeling they could have been a goal in front.

A man short saw Arundel look to contain the visitors and some dogged defending at times ensured they made it look as if Midhurst were going to be denied anything more than an opening day point, Chris Wyatt coming closest to breaking the deadlock hitting the post just after the hour mark.

As it was the pressure told just minutes later, substitute Liam Dreckman slotted home after a bit of pinball inside the area, latching onto the loose ball and giving Mullets keeper Jack Hickman no chance.

Marcus Bedford doubled the visitors lead two minutes later with a smart finish inside the area as the extra man was starting to pay dividends for the Stags and the tired legs of the young Arundel side were starting to flag.

Ten minutes from time the seal was put on the visitors second half performance, fellow substitute Kieran Carter tapped in at the far post for a third Midhurst goal after a superbly flighted cross from the left hand side to send the Stags home with the three points.

No doubt the game changed on that sending off decision, both sides were fairly well matched despite a clear pitting of youth against experience in favour of the visitors, but the extra man for the Stags was clearly the difference with Arundel unable to fashion many notable second half chances.

So there we go, number one in the bag for the season and Mr Easton’s first trip to Arundel ticked off the list, fingers crossed I can find a destination for Tuesday or Wednesday evening.

Rebels record another fine pre-season win

Pre-season was wrapped up for me on Tuesday evening as Worthing took on Welling Utd. Despite the fact both these clubs still have three more Saturdays until they kick off, Steps 5 and 6 at County League level begin this coming weekend, 31st July, and attention now turns to competitive action.

This is the fourth time I’ve seen Worthing in pre-season action, not by design, more by the opposition and the first return to Woodside Road for any fans since March last year included in that.

Welling Utd were one of the sides my late father used to take me to see fairly regularly as I was growing up along with the likes of Dartford, Maidstone Utd, Gravesend and Tonbridge, so quite a nostalgic return to the past following Tonbridge gracing Woodside Road at the weekend. Watching the likes of Gary Abbott, Terry Robbins, Lee Harrison, Steve Barnes and Steve Finnan to name a few, Google the scoring records of those first two.

In two National League outfits, a good test for Adam Hinshelwood’s men as they gear up for a new season, already in explosive form across this pre-season raining goals.

And again, the Rebels were quick off the mark as has been a feature of their play so far during these friendly matches. Just two minutes into the game, the home side were in the lead, the sole trialist being given minutes by Hinshelwood was once again on the scoresheet with a superb finish and the Wings not settled into play.

Worse was to come for the visitors just three minutes later, Worthing’s blistering start continued, Ollie Pearce getting in behind the Welling back line and a shot across the keeper found it’s way inside the far post for 2-0.

Five minutes gone, Welling chasing shadows and Worthing in complete control. The game settled down after the explosive opening moments although the Wings were being repelled by Worthing’s relentless attacking with Dean Cox and Jasper Pattenden giving both full backs a torrid time and the former’s delivery into the box was of the highest quality time after time,.

Efforts from the trialist and Pattenden could have extended the lead, that eventually came two minutes before half time, Shaq Gwengwe pole-axed in the penalty area, picked himself up and slotted home the penalty for a commanding half time lead.

Credit to Welling as they started the second half, there was more purpose about them and ball retention was a lot better than the opening 45 minutes which meant Worthing had to be a little more patient in their build up and the next goal didn’t arrive until just after the hour mark but not in the fashion Welling would have wanted, a back pass from a defender was placed wide of the keeper and calmly rolled into the net at the far post to sum up their evening.

The usual raft of substitutions again didn’t alter the quality of the play across the park with those coming on pressing hard to be involved in the starting eleven come the opening day.

Welling continued to press forward showing more attacking intent and were rewarded with a goal 15 minutes from time, a good strike from Dipo Akinyemi and the visitors almost had a second a minute later but for a goal line clearance from Joel Colbran.

Reece Meekums put the icing on the cake five minutes from time with a superb solo effort, twisting and turning the visitors defence inside out from the left wing before smashing the ball home to complete a comprehensive victory once again for the Rebels and leaving home supporters purring with the football on offer over the past three weeks.

It’s hard to pick out individuals over a classic team performance but it’s got to be done. Hinsh doesn’t often go for two up front and with Pearce and Gwengwe in great form so far both deserved the start. It was interesting to watch Pearce and the trialist often inter-changing making it harder for the opposition to pick either player up to mark.

Should the Rebels be able to sign the trialist whose made quite an impression on the pitch, he can easily be the difference between winning a few more points and a title or the play-offs in my opinion. The pockets of space he finds in games between the lines makes him very hard to mark and creating that can give the side an extra dimension.

But, if he doesn’t sign then there are plenty of players within that squad who are equally capable to provide the same flashes of brilliance. The delivery from Cox was constantly spot on the money, something you would expect from a player with his class and quality and with those balls into the box week in week out defenders are going to have their work cut out.

On the other wing you have Pattenden able to deliver or cut inside and unleash the mother of all curling shots whilst Danny Barker and Marvin Armstrong make you not miss Jesse Starkey and Ricky Aguiar and they are some midfield pairing!

One more to note, Tom Chalaye. Looked very sharp when he came on, could have had a goal or two, notably the timing of his runs were on the mark and having bulked up some over the last year or so like Pattenden he’s becoming harder to knock off the ball when in possession.

510 were there to witness the goal-fest, a lot of work for Steve Lovell and Welling Utd to do over the next three weeks before their season begins, there can’t have been too many that came out of last week with much credit in the tank going forward.

Rebels too strong for lacklustre Angels

This season I think I’ve watched more pre-season friendlies than the last few years put together. Maybe it’s the lure of missing the game being played on the pitch in front of me instead of the television for most of the last seven months and the quality I’ve seen so far hasn’t disappointed me.

Worthing vs Tonbridge was on my radar from the time it was announced a while ago, two managers in Adam Hinshelwood and Steve McKimm who have been very helpful to me when it comes to blogs and indeed Steve took me around the London lights back in December in his black cab, a birthday treat to myself.

Tonbridge is also around the area I originally come from as well so always a glance towards their results, I grew up watching some fantastic players go through their club, the likes of the late Ray Tumbridge, Mark Gilham, Neil and Paul Emblen, Roly Graham and many more that I’m sure readers will remind me of.

Rather than the wet weather predicted to fall all afternoon, the South Coast was bathed in beautiful sunshine before the sides took to the pitch and despite the Angels missing four or five likely starters, McKimm was still expecting a performance to match his opponents and once again named his own son 16 year old keeper Toby and Bobby Moore, 16 year old son to assistant manager Barry amongst the substitutes.

The opening exchanges were fairly even, the experience of Doug Loft and Ricky Modeste in the Angels midfield were matched by Danny Barker and the returning Marvin Armstrong in the middle of the park, almost trading sparring punches with neither side committing too much.

Worthing, renowned for their passing game from back to front, began to move the ball about a bit quicker and were rewarded with a penalty when a ball whipped into the box was handled by Harry Hudson, Ollie Pearce making no mistake from the spot putting the Rebels into the lead on 16 minutes.

Minutes later the Rebels were almost two goals in front, Reece Meekums put clean through lifting the ball over Angels keeper Jonny Henly only for Hudson to recover and clear the ball for a corner before it could end up in the net.

Worthing’s sole trialist should also have extended the lead on 37 minutes, heading over the bar when unmarked in the six yard box. As it was the home side didn’t have to wait long for their second goal.

Joel Colbran was allowed to stroll forward from the back line and unleashed a fierce drive from all of 25 yards past the hapless Henly to double the Rebels lead.

Tonbridge though were back in the game just before half time, Tommy Wood pouncing on a rare error from keeper Harrison Male to reduce the arrears and giving the visitors hope as they headed for the dressing rooms.

The good fortune lasted for all of three minutes in the second half as the home side’s trialist took advantage of the visitors hesitant defending and slotted home a third goal for Worthing.

Five minutes later, the scoreline was put beyond doubt with Pearce scoring his second and Worthing’s fourth from the spot once again after Pattenden was fouled inside the box whilst in full flight.

The next ten minutes allowed Hinshelwood to rest some of his starters and as per all the friendlies I’ve seen so far at all levels the quality of the game didn’t drop at all and although McKimm had just the four substitutes at his disposal they all made a decent contribution when they arrived on the pitch.

The Angels matched Worthing for chances in the final half hour, Ibrahim Olutade forcing Male into a point blank save and Sonny Miles heading over while Shaq Gwengwe’s overhead kick and Ty Mthunzi’s effort were both wide of the target and Worthing coming off comfortable winners.

For some reason it just didn’t happen for Tonbridge all afternoon, second best all over the park to a Worthing side who seem to have the knack of producing a performance whichever eleven players Hinshelwood selects.

What’s to be commended is the amount of young players on the pitch at the final whistle and having seen both McKimm and Moore being blooded during this pre-season for Tonbridge, neither looked out of place. McKimm dealt with all coming his way in the Angels goal whilst Moore looked tidy up against the experienced Darren Budd in midfield.

Worthing’s policy of youth getting it’s chance is well known, ‘providing the pathway’ is their motto and with two 14 year old’s getting their chance earlier this week, a chance they will get under Hinshelwood if you are good enough.

Speaking to both managers after game, neither was getting carried away with the result and both conceded there was plenty to take from the 90 minutes. Hinshelwood was happy with the performance one he felt wouldn’t have happened a few years ago:

‘I felt we looked fit and strong against a physically imposing Tonbridge team, maybe a game that we would have lost out on the battles individually across the pitch so that was pleasing to see.’

‘I’ve been quite pleased with the squad of players we have at the moment; I feel it allows us to play a variety of formations and also the emergence of some of our younger players who have come in and done well in recent weeks has been an added bonus for me.’

McKimm said before the kick-off he was expecting a good workout and despite missing a few players he did think it’s served as a little wake-up call:

‘I definitely learnt more from that game than from the good run we have been on so far this pre-season, there were a couple of positives to take from the game but also some negatives that we need to get to work on.’

‘It was excellent to see so many youngsters on the pitch to finish the game and if they’re good enough then they should be given a chance.’