Lancing Starting XI
Mitchell Bromage, Conrad Honoure, Max Blencowe. Liam Hendy, James Beresford, Mitch Hewens, James Rhodes, Lewis Finney (Capt.) Mike Williamson, Alex Fair, Brad Santos.
Will Berry, Kyle Woolven, Mo Juwara, George Mitchell-Phillips, George Fenton
The away fixture at the Shooting Field provided Lancing with the opportunity to finish 2019 sitting at the top of the Southern Combination Premier League. Santa Claus still had a few presents left in his sack for the Lancing faithful supporters, in the shape of two goals and three valuable points. Lancing were missing Tom Caplin, Josh Coupar and Kane Louis but were still able to field a strong XI with plenty of good cover on the bench.
The game began at a frantic pace with Steyning quick into the tackle and determined to disrupt Lancing’s flowing football at every opportunity but Lancing were proving a handful along both flanks with Mitch Hewens and James Beresford on the left and Conrad Honoure and Brad Santos on the right taking the game to Steyning. The first real threat came from Brad Santos being fed by Conrad Honoure. Brad evaded a strong tackle to reach the bye line close to the goal but an interception took the ball out of play for a corner.
Some fast-flowing football produced some good entertainment for the appreciative crowd but it was a full 20 minutes before either keeper had to face a real test and it was Mitch Bromage who was called into action getting down smartly to his left to make a save. Lancing responded a few minutes later when Mike Williamson made a timely interception before setting Brad on a speedy run towards the Steyning goal culminating in a fine shot which was well saved. Lancing now looked more of a danger going forward and some nice interplay between Lew Finney and Al Fair created a chance for Al but the home keeper was off his line quickly to close Al down and nullify the threat.
Lancing came close to taking the lead when a goal bound shot seemed to be about to catch the keeper moving the wrong way but he did well to stretch out an arm and palm the ball over for a corner. Lancing kept up the pressure with Lew working hard in midfield to intercept a clearance and put Mitch on a run. He picked out Brad whose shot was just wide. Steyning were continuing to play at a high tempo and this paid off when Matt Hards weaved his way at pace into the Lancing penalty area. He skilfully evaded the attention of several defenders who were unable to get a tackle in and finished by planting the ball in the corner of the net.
Brad then received a yellow card for a harmless looking foul on the half way line, a far less innocuous offence than the one dished out to James Beresford minutes earlier, for which no booking ensued. Brad remained undeterred and finished the half by connecting with a header from a James Beresford cross which he was unable to direct towards the goal.
A half time substitution saw Kyle Woolven replacing Mitch Hewens and Brad Santos switching from the right to the left. Kyle made an immediate impact with a perfect cross to the far post which Lew Finney was able to get his head to and squeeze the ball between the keeper and the upright to bring the sides level with the second half barely a minute old. This gave Lancing a boost and there was a noticeable increase in the speed of their attacking play. James Beresford was at full flow and set up Al Fair whose well struck shot just shaded the cross bar. Kyle was enjoying a good spell on the right wing and Brad, taking up a more central position, was using his pace to break clear through the middle. James Rhodes was having a good influence on Lancing’s attacking play. Finding space and using the ball well to bring the wide men into play. Steyning were finding the Lancing back four, superbly led by Liam Hendy, hard to break down and, as the game wore on, were finding it hard to maintain the level shown in the first half. There was no one to match the energy and commitment shown by Mike Williamson.
Brad’s pace took him clear with only the keeper to beat but the keeper positioned himself well to deny Brad a goal his play deserved. Another swift break by Brad resulted in him receiving a blatant trip which earned the offender a yellow card. With 30 minutes to go Will Berry made his long-awaited return to Lancing colours after his transfer from Saltdean, as he replaced Al Fair. James Rhodes showed some delightful close control to get close to the bye line before firing the ball across the face of the goal. James Beresford and Will Berry were proving a handful for the home defence. Will found Kyle Woolven with a good pass which gave Kyle the chance to force the home keeper into making a great save.
With 70 minutes gone Mo Juwara was brought on for Conrad Honoure who had put in another excellent performance. Mo’s strong running down the left was another challenge for the tiring legs of Steyning. Will Berry came close with a powerful header and looked to have given Lancing the lead on 75 minutes when he deflected a cross from the right past the goal keeper into the net. However, the linesman had raised his flag for offside without, it seems, spotting a Steyning defender who had left the field of play on the bye line wide of the goal. The referee remained unimpressed by Lancing’s protests and disallowed the goal. This was clearly an incorrect decision, failing to apply what the offside rule states (see note below).
Both Kyle and Lew came close to giving Lancing the lead which their second half performance merited but with 8 minutes left Lew and James Rhodes combined beautifully in the Steyning penalty area giving James the opening to calmly steer a left foot shot into the bottom corner.
Steyning almost struck back but the ball was hit wide from a good position. With a couple of minutes to go Lew came close to pulling off another of his superb long-range goals as he tried, from at least 35 yards, to raise the ball over the keeper, who had advanced off his line. However, the keeper was able to make a good leap and make a clean save
This win took Lancing a point clear of Eastbourne Town at the top of the table with a game in hand. The pressure will now be on as opposing sides will be motivated to beat the top side. Certainly, Steyning celebrated their goal as if they had won a cup final. It was good to see Will Berry back. His experience will prove invaluable as we move into the second half of the season. Also encouraging signs that George Fenton may be ready to make a return. This will help to mitigate the temporary loss of Kane Louis and Tom Caplin.
MOM award goes to James Rhodes. Covered the ground well. Always available to receive the ball. Kept possession well and showed a cool head to calmly pick his spot and slot the winner.
Offside law Rule 11 states:
A defending player who leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play or until the defending team has played the ball towards the half way line and it is outside the penalty area.
(Incidentally if a player deliberately steps out of play, he should be booked) Thus there were the two requisite players between Will and the goal line so the goal was incorrectly disallowed.
Man of the Match: James Rhodes
Report by David Wilmott.
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