Lancing Starting XI
Matt Evans, Max Blencowe, Dave Sharman, Liam Hendy, Josh Coupar, James Beresford, Lew Finney (Capt.) James Rhodes, Tom Caplin, Alex Fair, Mike Williamson
Mitch Hewens, Mo Juwara, Kyle Woolven, George Mitchell-Phillips, Will Berry.
After four cup matches it was back to the bread and butter of the League as Lancing took on Eastbourne Utd who have been making good progress up the League table and who lie six points behind Lancing at the start of play. It was a welcome back to Lancing favourite Will Berry returning after a couple of seasons at Saltdean. A good addition to the squad. Will, being a versatile player but one who has always been steady and reliable.
Max Blencowe was back and occupied the right back berth. Kane Louis was rested with a slight injury concern. James Beresford lined up in a more advanced position in front of Josh Coupar on the left midfield and Alex Fair was back to lead the front line. Lancing knew that this would not be an easy game and began in earnest moving the ball around quickly and getting forward down both flanks. James Beresford and Josh Coupar were in fine form and were constantly probing down the Lancing left. James Rhodes and Max Bencrowe linking well on the right. Josh created two early opportunities for James Rhodes. James was just wide with his first effort and his volley from a cross from Josh to the far post struck the side netting. James Beresford turned provider setting up Al Fair who brought a superb one handed save from the United Keeper.
Against the run of play, United almost took a surprise lead. Matt Evans, whose distribution is almost always so accurate mis-hit a clearance, the ball falling into the path of a United player who saw his chance to put his side ahead with a well struck lob from distance. Matt raced back to cover and was in position to see the ball fly narrowly off target. Lancing ‘s possession game paid dividends when, after some fine passing, Lew Finney was picked out in the box and, after negotiating his way through a couple of tackles, managed to get the ball over the line on 24 minutes. Lancing’s lead was short lived and less than 10 minutes later United were level. Liam Hendy, trying to play his way out of a tight spot in Lancing’s left corner was dispossessed resulting in the ball being driven in the direction of the near post. Dave Sharman, sliding in to intercept, only succeeded in diverting the ball into his own net. Lew Finney was determined to get his side back in front and twice created scoring opportunities by his quick closing down of the United keeper. On the first occasion he was able to get the ball to James Rhodes but offside was given. Lew persevered and, on the second occasion, he was able to set up Al Fair who finished with a fine shot on the turn to put Lancing in front as half time approached.
The second half saw United coming out strongly. An early free kick was tipped over the bar by Matt Evans. A short corner was taken and a cross to the far post was met by a header which Matt Evans managed to block but the ball came back off him and fell to Sam Crabb who fired home from close range. Matt was called upon to make two good saves as United grew in confidence. With 30 minutes to go Naim went for all-out attack and brought on Mitch Hewens and Mo Juwara for Dave Sharman and Josh Coupar. Their pace on the left was matched by James Beresford on the right. The tide now turned in Lancing’s favour. Liam Hendy came close with a header under pressure, which cleared the crossbar. Al Fair and James Rhodes were also narrowly off target. But United had not given up hopes of a winner and it needed a superb tackle from Mike Williamson to snuff out a swift counter attack.
The final throw of the dice was to bring on Kyle Woolven to add his pace and direct running. Another fine save by Matt Evans kept the scores level but United had no answer to the speed with which Mitch Hewens and Mo Juwara burst forward on the left. Good interplay between Tom Caplin and Mitch gave Mo the chance to make a speedy overlap and hit a superb cross from the dead ball line which Al Fair met with a clinical finish to put Lancing 3-2 up on 83 minutes.
Mitch then set the crowd alight with a fast-mazy run into the box which he finished with a thunderbolt of a shot which cannoned back off the trembling cross bar. Mitch then broke clear and fired another superb effort which came back off the far upright and rebounded to Al Fair who secured his hat trick and victory for Lancing in the third minute of added time.
Eastbourne United were no soft touch and Lancing had to put on a great attacking display in the final 30 minutes. Good use of substitutes paid off. With Eastbourne Town dropping two points, Lancing inched to within two points of the leaders and still have a game in hand. So, attention now turns to Tuesday night’s away fixture at Lingfield, provided their pitch survives the heavy rain. Lancing will miss, through suspension, the tireless midfield dynamo, Mike Williamson, whose tackling has been a vital factor for his team. But what we have learned this season is that Naim has assembled a good squad in depth and whenever important players have been missing others have stepped up to the plate and filled their boots admirably.
For the impact he made when coming on as a substitute, Mitch Hewens was selected as MOM. Good to see Mo getting some minutes showing his attacking strengths and Al Fair showing that he has not lost his goal scoring touch.The work rate shown by Lew Finney was also a vital factor. A true captain’s performance.
Report by Dave Wilmott
Man of the Match: Mitch Hewens
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