LANCING STARTING XI
Taylor Seymour, James Beresford, Alex Bygraves, Liam Hendy, George Fenton, Mike Williamson, Tom Caplin, Lew Finney (Capt.), Kane Louis, Mitch Hewens, James Rhodes
Matt Evans, Brad Santos, Omar Bukleb, Dave Sharman, Conrad Honoure, Mo Juwara.
The eagerly anticipated first round match between Rusthall (The Rustics), currently occupying second place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division, and Lancing, in third spot, (although equal on points with second place Peacehaven) in the Southern Counties Combination League Premier Division, took place at the Jockey Farm stadium in wet and windy conditions. Despite the adverse conditions both sides put on a good performance which kept the crowd fully entertained. If you were unaware of the result, the joyful singing and general merriment coming from the homeward bound Lancing coach, told you all you needed to know.
Manager Naim recalled Taylor Seymour in goal. James Beresford was available so got the nod at full back instead of Mo Juwara. Mitch Hewens started together with Lew Finney and Mike Williamson, who had been unavailable for the Horsham YMCA game. There was the welcome sight of James Rhodes, who had recovered from the knock which forced him to leave the field late in the Y M game.
And it was Rhodes who was first to test the home keeper after three minutes and was to make the all-important breakthrough on 14 minutes, latching on to a clever pass from Lew Finney and finding space to roll the ball over the line. Rusthall were able to get forward and won some early corners but Lancing coped well defensively They also survived a potential goal threat thanks to a fine tackle by Al Bygraves and George Fenton was quick to avert danger when Taylor was closed down quickly and dispossessed.
Lancing built up some good momentum as the first half reached the final quarter with Lew Finney linking well with James Rhodes and bringing a good save from Callum Hampson in the home goal and Tom Caplin seeing a shot deflected for a corner.
A moment of controversy at the end of the first half brought the home crowd to their feet crying out for a red card to be dished out to James Beresford. A Rusthall forward had broken clear and looked to be heading goal wards with only Taylor to beat. James’ desperate sliding tackle brought his man down just outside the penalty area. We Lancing supporters held our breath and crossed our fingers as the referee consulted his assistant, who was right in line with the incident. To our relief, James only received a yellow card. The resulting free kick was easily saved by Taylor.
The slender half time lead meant that Rusthall were still in the game and with the pace of Louis Clarke on the right wing and Reuel Powell-Downey on the left, both George Fenton and James Beresford had to be at their best to contain them. At the centre of Lancing’s defence Al Bygraves and Liam Hendy gave nothing away and were proving, with each game, what a solid partnership is being developed.
The need for a second goal was imperative for Lancing to give them some breathing space and this came on 60 minutes. Some good work by Mitch Hewens led to a corner on Lancing’s right flank. Lew Finney was played in and his shot rebounded off the upright before falling kindly for Kane Louis whose outstanding midfield display was rewarded with a goal from close range.
James Rhodes who had worked tirelessly was replaced on 65 minutes by Brad Santos and he was soon in the action with a fine turn to set up George Fenton who forced a fine one handed save from keeper Hampson. Powell-Downey was continuing to be the main danger man for the Rustics and, for once, managed to break free from George Fenton. However, the ever-alert Mike Williamson was on hand with a good intercepting tackle.
Mitch Hewens made way for Mo Juwara for the last 15 minutes and, shortly afterwards, Tom Caplin, who had run himself into the ground, got a well-earned rest with Conrad Honoure coming on. Brad and Conrad, both with plenty of energy, combined to provide a chance for Lew Finney, whose shot on the turn was narrowly wide.
Powell-Downey had not given up and George Fenton was forced to make some solid tackles to keep him at bay. George showed that he could still get forward and, with the match running into added time, came close to adding a third for Lancing, forcing the keeper to concede a corner.
The game came to end shortly afterwards. The crowd had been treated to a good contest played in the right spirit. Rusthall proved hospitable hosts and there was a generally good atmosphere at the ground. High spirits were there in abundance as the Lancing team, management and supporters boarded the coach.
Next up for The Lancers is a trip to Crawley Down Gatwick on Tuesday 15 Oct. for round 3 of the Peter Bentley Cup.
MOM for Lancing: Kane Louis. Another accomplished performance from the mid field wizard, scoring the second goal at a vital time in the game.
Man of the Match: Kane Louis