Lancing Starting XI
Taylor Seymour, James Beresford, George Fenton, Omar Bukleb, Alex Bygraves, Mike Williamson, Tom Caplin, Kane Louis, Lewis Finney (c), James Rhodes, Mo Juwara.
Conrad Honore, Jack Baden, Liam Hendy, Dave Sharman, George Mitchell-Phillips.
Two undefeated teams met at Culver Road as Lancing hosted Crawley Down Gatwick on Tuesday evening. Lancing manager Naim made one change from the side which beat East Preston 1-0. Omar Bukleb partnered Alex Bygraves in central defence.
Lancing were quickly on the offensive. James Beresford operating on the left side of the back four, and James Rhodes both tested Sam Smith in the visitors’ goal and a good interchange of passes between Tom Caplin and Lew Finney saw Lew bearing down on the goal only to be halted by a good tackle which put the ball out for a corner.
At the other end, a smart save was needed from Lancing keeper Taylor Seymour to keep out a low shot. On 19 minutes Lancing took the lead when Lew Finney side footed the ball home from a superb cross from the right wing by Mo Juwara. This was the reward for their early attacking momentum, playing confidently out from the back. Crawley Down’s main threats were coming from free kicks and corners.
On the half-hour, James Beresford and George Fenton switched positions. Lancing were in control at this stage and came close to a second goal when Lew Finney beat Sam Smith in a race for the ball. Lew made contact sliding in and firing the ball goal wards but the ball flew narrowly wide of the upright. A clever backheel from Kane Louis created an opportunity for Mo to strike for goal but his shot went past the upright.
There was a momentary scare for Lancing as Omar appeared to be in difficulties but he made a great recovery to prevent a shot on goal. Lancing looked to have increased their lead as a misplaced pass from Crawley Down was picked up by the lively Mo whose first-time pass set James Rhodes through to score with a cool finish, only to see the flag being raised for offside.
There was another close call for Lancing as an attempted back header to Taylor Seymour by Mike Williamson went astray leading to a corner. Taylor was unable to reach the cross which was heading towards goal. Lancing were able to clear the danger with Crawley down appealing for a goal. The referee’s assistant was right in line with play and indicated to the referee that the ball had not crossed the line.
The second-half began with Mo being found clear on the right. He switched the ball to James Beresford on the left and his cross was deftly tucked home by Lew Finney for his and Lancing’s second. Mo was exploiting the space on the right and using his pace to good effect. One good run saw him cutting inside with an opportunity to test the keeper with his left foot, but he was way off target. A mazy run by the energetic Tom Caplin saw him get to the by-line and fire a shot across the face of the goal which the keeper was able to palm safely away.
Crawley Down raised their game at this point and Taylor Seymour did well to get down to make an important save. Lancing then survived when a fierce drive struck the underside of the crossbar with Taylor beaten but Lancing had the good fortune to see the ball rebound to safety. Lancing were on the back foot for a while as Crawley Down fought hard to get a foothold. Conrad Honore replaced James Rhodes and was soon having an influence and helping Lancing to regain control. Mo‘s pace was being used to create a real threat along Lancing’s right flank but Mo was not able to turn his attacking runs into goal-scoring opportunities. Lancing looked to have secured the three points when a superb turn by Conrad Honore enabled him to slip the ball inside the fullback for Mo to run onto. Mo slipped the ball to Kane Louis who found Lew Finney free inside the penalty area. Lew had time to look up and pick his spot in the far corner.
For the second time this season Lew had notched up a hat-trick. For the final stages, Liam Hendy came on for George Fenton and George Mitchell -Phillips replaced Kane Louis. Crawley Down had not given up and Taylor was called upon to make a good save with 10 minutes to go. Conrad Honore continued to have an important influence on the game and managed to beat the offside trap before laying the ball into the path of George Mitchell -Phillips, who made no mistake, securing Lancing’s fourth goal at the far post with minutes to go.
The home crowd were enthusing about this comprehensive victory which sees Lancing move into second spot on goal difference. There were so many outstanding performances on the night. Tom Caplin had his best game of the season and there were the usual forward bursts along the flanks from George Fenton and the irrepressible James Beresford. Omar Bukleb looked calm and confident alongside Alex Bygraves and the close control by Kane Louis and James Rhodes continually brought others in to play. Mike Williamson covered every blade of the artificial turf and was tireless getting up and down the pitch. Taylor settled well making some good saves and when he chose to kick long, showed great accuracy, particularly picking out Mo Juwara. What is also encouraging is the impact shown by young players such as Conrad Honore and George Mitchell-Phillips when being introduced off the bench. Still a long way to go, of course, but Naim, David and Kaneb supported by Mark & Wayne, must be very encouraged by what they have seen so far. They are clearly putting good work in during training sessions and in team discussions.
Main talking point was, of course, the goal scoring prowess shown by Lewis Finney. Not just a goal scorer but a hardworking team player.
Needless to say, the Committee could look no further than Lew as their selection for MOM.
Our thanks to Lancing FC committee member, Dave Wilmott, for his match report.