Lancing Starting XI:
Mitch Bromage, Conrad Honoure, Max Blencowe, Liam Hendy, James Beresford, Kyle Woolven, James Rhodes, Mike Williamson, Lew Finney (Capt.), Brad Santos, Alex Fair.
Mo Juwara, Will Berry, George Fenton, Josh Coupar, George Mitchell-Phillips.
Could Lancing maintain their winning streak as they entered 2020 with an away fixture at Crawley Down Gatwick? The hosts were smarting after a 5-1 defeat against Horley Town. The games between these two sides are always well contested affairs but Lancing currently hold the upper hand with a 4-0 home league win way back in August, followed by a 1-0 away win in October in the Peter Bentley Cup.
Lancing made one change from the eleven which began their last match against Steyning. Kyle Woolven was in for Mitch Hewens. There were plenty of options with a very strong looking bench.
Crawley Down looked determined to avoid another heavy defeat with a defensive looking line-up. A packed midfield with one-man up front was going to pose a challenge to Lancing to break them down and create openings. Lancing enjoyed the lion’s share of possession for the opening 20 minutes with much of the play taking place in the Crawley Down half. Liam Hendy and Max Blencowe were interchanging passes along the back line with very little pressure but Lancing were struggling to get into decent goal scoring positions. A chipped cross by Kyle Woolven looked promising but the ball just eluded James Rhodes at the far post. Liam Hendy making a quick break from the back put James Beresford in with a run to the bye line which ended with him being brought down. Nothing came of the resultant free kick.
At the other end, an overhit cross field pass put Max Blencowe in difficulties as he could only just get his head to the ball which fell kindly to an opposition player in space to advance. This led to a Crawley Down free kick which Lancing were able to defend comfortably.
Lancing’s first serious attempt on goal fell to Mike Williamson, set up by a clever dummy by Lew Finney. Mike got under his shot which skied over the bar. A determined run by Brad Santos saw him felled at the edge of the opposition box. Al Fair shaped up for the free kick which rebounded to him from the defensive wall and ended with him volleying the ball wide.
Brad and Kyle switched wings on 20 minutes, Brad now occupying the right and Kyle the left. On 29 minutes a quick break down the fight caught Lancing napping and a hard, low cross was met at the far post by Michael Wood who gave the home side the lead, very much against the run of play.
There was a further scare for Lancing as a cross field pass was intercepted allowing Crawley Down to launch a counter attack leading to a shot which looked to be dipping under the cross bar until Mitch Bromage, at full stretch, managed to fingertip the ball over for a corner. Lancing managed to finish the half all square. Conrad Honoure won possession with a good tackle. From there, Lancing broke forward quickly, leading to a well-placed pass which James Rhodes collected with finely timed run. With only keeper Sam Smith to beat, James showed a cool head and fired the ball low into the corner.
Lancing began the second half with a much greater attacking intent. Lew looked to be set to add to his impressive goal tally but, with the goal at his mercy, lifted his shot over the bar. Kyle found Lew with a great pass but, as Lew tried to turn to get a shot away, a defender made a timely tackle to snuff out the threat. James Beresford came close, having beaten his man on the inside, he took careful aim for the far top corner of the goal but only succeeded in curling the ball high and wide. It was Kyle’s turn to be frustrated as Conrad put him clear but Sam Smith closed him down quickly and the chance fell away.
With 30 minutes to go Naim made his first change replacing Kyle Woolven with Josh Coupar. James Beresford took up a more advanced role on the left and he and Josh were soon combining with a purpose on Lancing’s left. James Rhodes came close to his second forcing Sam Smith to get down smartly to his right to deny him.
That was James last real action before stepping down for Will Berry on 68 minutes. This was to prove a master stroke by Naim, as barely 5 minutes later, Will was to give Lancing the lead. Liam Hendy, whose passing had been immaculate all afternoon, found James Beresford with a superb pass. James turned his marker inside out before hitting a cross into the six-yard box which was met by the solid chest off Will Berry who was able to get the ball over the line. Three minutes later Will rose to meet a perfectly flighted cross from Josh Coupar but powered his header fractionally high.
The final substitution for Lancing saw the return of George Fenton, entering the fray for the last 10 minutes, after missing several weeks with a hamstring injury. He replaced Conrad Honoure, who had worked hard throughout. Brad Santos’ pace was causing problems for some tired legs in the home defence. One great burst took him clear but, with Will in a good position, Brad delayed his pass and ran into a solid defensive wall.
With the game entering over 6 minutes of added time Crawley Down found some belief in the attacking side of their game and put Lancing under some sustained pressure. A superb strike from distance, adjudged to have been touched on its way to deflecting off the cross bar, by Lancing keeper Mitch Bromage, gave Crawley Down hope from a corner. This was defended desperately by Lancing and a second corner ensued, which Lancing were able to successfully defend and see the game out.
This was enough to secure three points for Lancing and put them 4 points clear of Eastbourne Town at the top of the table with the games level. Lancing were not quite at their best but showed great spirit, yet again, to come from behind and break down a determined opposition. The strength in depth of the squad is readily apparent when you look at the players sat on the bench and with others in the wing looking to come back into the team
MOM went to James Beresford. Modesty made James reluctant to accept the award, as he named other players, he deemed more worthy. But it was well deserved.
Report by: Dave Wilmott
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