LANCING STARTING XI
Matt Evans, George Fenton, Alex Bygraves, Liam Hendy, Mo Juwara, Mike Williamson, Tom Caplin, Mitch Hewens, James Rhodes, Lewis Finney (c), Kane Louis.
The question on the lips of Lancing supporters was “Could the Lancers bounce back after falling to their first league defeat of the season, at home to Uckfield?” This was answered emphatically with a 3-1 victory against Saltdean Utd. The good thing was that this game came around so quickly after the Saturday defeat that the team did not have time to dwell on the loss but had to get back up in the saddle and focus on the next game.
Matt Evans was selected in goal and Tom Caplin was back. Mitch Hewens was also in the starting line up. For Saltdean, there were some familiar faces in their starting XI, with former Lancing favourites, Will Berry, Louis Pittock and Dan Turner on from the start. Former Lancing keeper Tyler D’Cruz, now wearing Saltdean colours, was missing from their line up.
The first scoring opportunity fell to Dan Turner after 5 minutes. Dan did well to hold off a challenge from Liam Hendy but could only screw his shot well wide of the target. A poor clearance from young Luca Paiano in the Saltdean goal, was seized on by Kane Louis who quickly fed Mitch Hewens on the right. It looked as if Mitch was setting himself for a shot but, instead, laid a fine pass into the path of Tom Caplin who finished well from close range to give Lancing a 1-0 lead after 7 minutes.
The game was being played at a high level of speed and intensity and was highly entertaining for spectators. A good advert for football at this level.. For Lancing, Mo Juwara from the left back position was getting forward at pace and this was matched by George Fenton on Lancing’s right flank. For Saltdean Alex Laing was showing pace and determination and was their most dangerous player.
Lancing came close to increasing their lead on seventeen minutes when Mike Williamson made a good run to the bye line, pulling the ball back for James Rhodes whose first time shot was just wide of the upright. Mo Juwara showed his strength on the ball winning two tackles near the Lancing corner before sprinting away into the Saltdean half, only to be brought down with a push in the back. Minutes later, a cleverly worked short corner between James Rhodes and Lew Finney gave Lew the space to cut in from the left and curl an angled shot into the far corner to give Lancing a 2-0 lead on 20 minutes
Saltdean were increasing their work rate with Laing at the heart of their attacks and it was his powerful run and fierce cross into the six yard box, which provided the opportunity for James Walters to apply the finishing touch and score via a wicked deflection off the upright .Football flowed at pace from end to end at this point and Saltdean were gradually matching Lancing .Laing floated a teasing cross to the far post which reached Dan Turner but his volley cleared the bar by some distance. Tom Caplin, battling hard to contain Laing, found himself on the receiving end of a yellow for an over robust tackle.
Lancing’s back four were showing great composure and were able to fend off Saltdean. At the other end, Lancing continued to create chances. James Rhodes fed Mike Williamson, who set up Mitch Hewens. Mitch calmly side footed the ball goal wards only to see it cleared from the line, and, almost on the stroke of half time, a superb run and pass from Mitch Hewens ended with Lew Finney hitting the upright, with the keeper stranded
Lancing were quickly out of the blocks in the second half. Mo set the scene with a storming run from within his own half leaving several defenders in his wake before reaching the heart of the Saltdean penalty box. Retaining possession well lead to a good passage of play culminating in Kane Louis curling a shot just wide of the upright. Saltdean were resorting to early long balls which Liam Hendy and Al Bygraves were able to deal with comfortably. Mitch Hewens resisted a strong challenge from Laing and curled in a cross which just evaded the head of the onrushing Lew Finney. Mo then robbed Dan Turner of possession and went on another surging run linking up with Mitch and Kane leading to a corner .Lew was found with a clever pass by James Rhodes but the keeper got down well to save his low drive .George Mitchell-Phillips came on for James Rhodes on 58 minutes .Lancing were in the ascendency at this point. Mike Williamson and Tom Caplin had nullified the threat of Laing. Lew hit the side netting before, a couple of minutes later, on 65 minutes seizing on a mishit clearance and firing a low shot into the bottom corner. This seemed to demoralise the visitors and Lancing were able to increase the pressure, particularly from the probing work on the right flank by Mitch Hewens, getting forward well and always able to find a yellow shirt with a pass.
With 20 minutes to go Mo Juwara and Al Bygraves were replaced by Omar Bukleb and Dave Sharman. Sharman soon found himself in the action forcing a good save from Paiano. George Mitchell-Phillips just failed to connect with a pass across the face of the goal from Lew Finney. Paiano was again tested but held on to a good strike from Mitch Hewens. Dave Sharman then caused some mayhem around the Saltdean six yard box but no Lancing player was able to get a shot on goal. The game came to a close with more Lancing attacks as George Mitchell-Phillips met a cross from Mike Williamson but his header dropped on to the cross bar and then George set up Lew Finney who missed out on another hat trick by side footing the ball wide.
So, Lancing deservedly progress to the next round with one of their best all round displays of the season. When Saltdean gave themselves hope by getting a goal back, it looked as f Lancing were going to face a stern second half test but they showed great character by raising their game to a level which Saltdean could not match. They were constantly under threat from the pace and direct running of Mitch and Mo and with Tom Caplin back the midfield established control.
Matt Evans had very few shots to deal with and the back four looked composed and comfortable.
For the second time in recent games Mitch Hewens deservedly earned himself the MOM award.
Man of the Match: Mitch Hewens
Our thanks to Lancing FC committee member, Dave Wilmott, for his report.
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