Worthing ready for two big returns - to football and to Woodside Road

Adam Hinshelwood says he can’t wait to get his squad training and playing again – then take them back home to Woodside Road.

Work on the pitch continues at Woodside Road / Picture: Nathan Bowen

Those are the two big days on the horizon as the Isthmian League table-toppers wait to get back into action.

With the current month-long ban on grass-roots sport ending next Wednesday, Hinshelwood’s squad are set to to train the next evening and have pencilled in a friendly at Pagham on December 5.

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Two more training sessions are planned before the Mackerel Men resume their Isthmian premier campaign on December 12.

A month later, work that has now finally started to re-lay their troublesome Woodside Road artificial pitch is due to be finished, paving the way for a grand homecoming.

And as things stand, it looks like a big crowd will be allowed for the homecoming.

Hinshelwood said it was great to have light at the end of the tunnel on both fronts.

“We’ll be pleased to get back together again and carry on where we left off with the season,” the manager told the Herald.

“The plan is we’ll have our first training session back on the Thursday (Dec 3) then play Pagham in a friendly on the Saturday.

“We’ll be able to have two more sessions the following week and hopefully we can play our first league game on December 12.

“Having a friendly will give us something more than just another training session. The lads can get some minutes into their legs and it will increase their sharpness.

“We’ll be ready to go when the league resumes.”

Hinshelwood and his coaching staff have been keeping in close touch with their players since the new lockdown began on November 5. Squad members have had fitness plans to follow and there have been Zoom sessions which have included some video analysis of some of the games Worthing have played so far.

It’s been a fine start to Worthing’s bid to win the Isthmian title – after last season was declared null and void in the first national lockdown with the team clear at the top with only a handful of games to go.

Worthing have won seven out of eight games and are two points clear in first place, with games in hand over their two nearest rivals.

One issue that has not affected them is that Woodside Road has remained off-limits to them while a new round of work to resolve problems with the pitch has been awaited and organised.

Pitch contractors McArdle Sport-Tec Ltd are undertaking the work following the award of a substantial Football Foundation grant.

They managed to switch a couple of planned home games to away fictures and played one at their new temporary home of Horsham FC before the new lockdown.

In fact, it means they still have 20 home games to come – and although some will be played before Woodside Road is available again, the way the season has worked out will mean Rebels fans should get plenty of opportunities to see their team in action at their real home.

As the fixture list stands presently, the first game back at Woodside Road could be the clash with East Thurrock on January 16.

Hinshelwood said: “I drove past the ground yesterday and there was lots of lorries and lots of work going on.

“It’s really positive that the work is now going ahead and hopefully it will be finished in the timescale being talked about.

“We’re playing home games at Horsham until then and they’ve been brilliant – very hospitable.

“But will be great to be back at Woodside Road and as it stands it looks as though fans will be allowed in. By then there could be fewer restrictions on numbers and we could be looking at the sort of size of crowds we were getting last season.

“Some of our players have yet to experience that aspect of playing for us so it will be quite something for everyone involved.”