Lancing starting XI
Matt Evans, James Beresford, George Fenton, Mike Williamson, Alex Bygraves, Liam Hendy, Mo Juwara, Conrad Honore, Alex Fair, James Rhodes, Lewis Finney (c).
Dave Sharman, Omar Bukleb, Mitch Hewens, Kane Louis, Jack Baden.
Manager Naim made a few changes from the starting line up from Saturday’s home fixture against Newhaven. Kane Louis was side lined having incurred a head injury. Tom Caplin was serving the first of a three-match suspension and Liam Hendy was chosen to partner Alex Bygraves.
Pagham were first to mount an attack on the opposing goal with a low cross shot from the right bye line to the near post but Matt Evans got down well to make a comfortable save. Lancing’s first serious threat came following a swift interchange of passes between George Fenton and Mo Juwara along the right flank. Mo’s pace took him clear with a chance to shoot for goal but his well struck left foot drive was narrowly wide of the upright.
Lancing were finding it difficult to establish their normal rhythm and were being put under pressure as they tried to play out from the back. This pressure paid off for Pagham with a well taken goal on 15 minutes from Tom Chayale. Lancing were gradually starting to get more of the ball, with Lew Finney dropping deep to collect from the defence and James Rhodes showing good control trying to prompt Lancing to get down the wings, where James Beresford, in particular, beating his marker with ease and making fast and direct runs towards the Pagham penalty area.
Lew Finney received the first yellow card on 20 minutes, which seemed quite out of proportion to the offence and to the fact that this was Lew’s first transgression. This displayed a lack of consistency from the official, given that James was being fouled repeatedly by his opposite number. James was undeterred by this and continued to pose a real threat. His persistence paid off with another good forward run which ended with him laying the ball into Lew Finney who hammered the ball powerfully into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area to bring Lancing level on 23 minutes.
James was tormenting his marker at will and another determined run saw him unceremoniously brought down just as he was about to burst into the box. Still no yellow for the persistent offender. Lew Finney’s well flighted freekick was met with a strong header from Al Fair but he was unable to keep it low enough to be on target. James continued to torment the Pagham defence with his close ball control and darting runs.
Despite the promise shown by some good attacks along the wings, Lancing found difficulty in maintaining sustained periods of possession in the final third and Pagham were getting in some strong challenges and getting the ball forward quickly. They were able to exploit a momentary lack of control by Lancing in their final third and turned this to their immediate advantage to score with only their second serious shot on goal, Tom Chayale seizing the opportunity to put his side 2-1 up a couple of minutes before the break. There was still time for James Beresford to be on the receiving end of another cynical foul, for which, eventually, a yellow card was handed out to Pagham’s Lewis Jenkins on the stroke of half time.
Two minutes into the restart Lancing found themselves facing an uphill struggle. Matt Evans was left exposed by a Pagham forward breaking clear and, as he attempted to get down to reach the ball, was unfortunate to bring the player down. No real doubt about the award of a penalty which Tom Chayale converted to give him a hat trick and Pagham a 3-1 lead.
But within a couple of minutes, Lancing gave themselves a lifeline. James Rhodes played a precision pass inside the right back for Lew Finney to run on to. With the goal keeper racing towards him, Lew kept a level head and hit a low accurate shot past him into the empty net.
Lancing were working hard to get a foothold in the game but were up against an equally determined Pagham side who were proving stubborn opponents, belying their lowly league position. James Rhodes was holding things together for Lancing with some excellent close control. He was able to retain possession and be the springboard for a number of Lancing’s best moves. Al Fair, after a quiet first half, was also more involved and, like James, holding on to the ball well and winning some good headers.
Two substitutions were made by Lancing on 15 minutes. Mitch Hewens came on for Conrad Honore and shortly afterwards Dave Sharman replaced James Beresford who looked to have received a knock. The introduction of the fresh and pacey legs of Mitch Hewens helped to turn the tide in Lancing’s favour. Mitch, with strong support from James Rhodes and George Fenton, was running at the opposing defence at every opportunity. George was supporting with strong forward bursts. A Mitch run and pass found Al Fair, whose close-range shot was blocked. Shortly afterwards, George Fenton was put through in the penalty area by James Rhodes only to be brought down as he was closing in on goal. Lewis Boughton in the Pagham goal resorted to some gamesmanship and delaying tactics as Lew Finney was preparing to take the penalty, for which he received a yellow card. Unaffected by this, Lew made no mistake from the penalty spot to bring the sides level and to give him another hat trick.
Urged on by Naim from the dugout George Fenton, was continuing to support Mitch and to make strong runs towards the Pagham goal. Pagham had not settled for a draw and it needed some solid defence from Liam Hendy to keep them at bay. George Fenton found himself having to get back and defend after his forays forward. George came close to scoring bringing a good save from Lewis Boughton and Liam Hendy got on the end of a corner to the near post but his powerful header flew too high.
Mo was also causing the Pagham defence problems and when he was brought down in the box, it looked as if Lancing had earned a second penalty but claims were waved away. This led to Al Bygraves questioning the referee about this a few minutes later for which he was rewarded with being despatched to the sin bin for 10 minutes with barely 5 minutes of normal time remaining.
In the dying minutes of added time, Mo latched on to a good pass from James Rhodes and managed to turn and get a shot away but nothing came of it. At the other end Matt Evans was fouled and injured as Pagham broke into the penalty area. Al Bygraves was able to return to the field of play but, shortly afterwards, the final whistle blew.
Disappointment for Lancing who would have expected to get back to winning ways after dropping their first league points at home to Newhaven. Pagham did not let Lancing settle into their passing game and were robust and competitive from the start. They were allowed to get away with a number of fouls, particularly against James Beresford before the referee took any action. But they took their chances well to earn a share of the point. Lancing deserve credit for the determined fighting spirit they showed in overcoming a 2-goal deficit and for the fitness levels they showed in the final stages. With Eastbourne Town being held to a draw away at Little Common, the point earned by Lancing kept them level on points at the top of the table.
Post-game agonising by the Committee over their MOM award saw them debating the merits of some good candidates (James Rhodes, James Beresford, Liam Hendy and George Fenton) but it was felt that the goalscoring performance by Lew Finney plus his all-round work rate put him in front. So well done to the Skipper.
Our thanks to Lancing FC committee member, Dave Wilmott, for his report.