An 8th minute goal secured the win for Horley Town on Tuesday night, despite the Lancers' dominant possessive display and attacking threat. Here is Dave Wilmott's report.
- Quissalla (8')
Lancing Starting XI
Mitch Bromage, George Fenton, Will Berry, Liam Hendy, James Beresford, Conrad Honore, Mike Williamson, Lew Finney (Capt.), James Rhodes, Alex Fair, Mitch Hewens.
Kyle Woolven, Ben Connolly, Josh Coupar, Dave Sharman, Mo Juwara.
Lancing faced a second tough test just days after surrendering their long unbeaten league record going back to September with a 3-1 defeat at Newhaven. Horley Town have been steadily climbing the table and their form makes them strong contenders for the title. Two events within the first ten minutes determined how this game would unfold.
A determined run by Mitch Hewens, with the game only three minutes old, put him in position to create a shooting opportunity for Al Fair. Al let fly from just inside the box and his shot had the beating of Horley keeper George Hyde but the upright denied Lancing an early lead. Horley were energetic and closing Lancing down quickly as they tried to move the ball out from the back and along the flanks. There was an early warning when James McElligott won possession and burst towards the goal. Lancing were able to close him down and clear the ball but the same player was put in behind on Lancing’s left and pulled the ball back for Mario Quiassa who found the net from close range to give Horley the lead on 8 minutes.
Horley maintained their early pressure, particularly along Lancing’s left flank and It needed a good save by Mitch Bromage to deny Russell Harvey from increasing Horley’s lead. Quiassa was proving difficult to contain and he forced Mitch into action to prevent another goal. Lancing switched George Fenton to left back with James Beresford to the right.
Gradually Lancing began to exert some control with Will Berry and Liam Hendy making good use of the ball and bringing George Fenton and James Beresford into play using the width to advantage. Liam Hendy picked out a great run in behind by James Rhodes. James worked the ball through for Al Fair whose shot was closed down. Lancing were enjoying more of the ball and Al Fair manoeuvred himself into a good position to test the home keeper but his careful aim flew just over the bar. Lancing continued to press for an equaliser and George Fenton got his head to a fine cross from James Beresford but could not get enough height to keep the ball below the cross bar.
George looked to have picked up a knock and lasted only 7 minutes of the second half before being replaced by Josh Coupar at left back. Horley sat deep in the second half and looked to have set themselves up to defend their lead. James Beresford was in difficulties after an aggressive tackle and left the field, after treatment, on 59 minutes. Conrad Honore moved to right back and Kyle Woolven took up position on the right wing.
Will Berry and Liam Hendy were in commanding form at the back for Lancing and Horley could find no way through. As Lancing continued to pass the ball around, Horley resorted to safety first and cleared the ball either long or out of play whenever danger threatened. The long ball approach kept Lancing on their toes. Russell Harvey found himself in the clear but he pulled his shot wide of the upright and Mitch Bromage had to be alert to break from his line and make a saving tackle.
On 64 minutes Ben Connolly replaced Al Fair in the hope that he could use his pace to get beyond the Horley defensive wall and test George Hyde. With 20 minutes left it looked as if Lancing would be reduced to 10 men, as Conrad Honore was on the receiving end of a nasty tackle. After lengthy treatment from physio Georgie, Conrad limped off. He did return for action but was clearly suffering. A great cross from Mitch Hewens was diverted behind for a corner. As the ball reached the goal area it appeared to ricochet between a couple of players before falling to Lew Finney. Lew reacted quickly but he could not keep his shot below the bar.
Horley remained a threat on the break and it needed a solid block from Will Berry to nullify the threat.
Lancing’s final throw of the dice was a well-judged ball over the top for Lew to run on to. Lew appeared to be upended on his way to goal but not enough to persuade the referee to award a penalty.
Horley Town were understandably jubilant as the final whistle blew. They threw up a defensive wall and took no risks. For the second match running Lancing played all the attractive football but found difficulty in creating many good scoring opportunities. The second half was dominated by them but Horley were resilient and compact. This result brings Horley to within 5 points of Lancing who maintain top spot but Horley have two games in hand. If Al Fair ‘s early goal attempt had gone in, would Horley have been in a position to score the only goal of the game a few minutes later? No point dwelling on ifs and maybes !!
I think we all recognised the difficulty of maintaining an undefeated run when sitting at the top of the table. We are there for every opposing team to try and knock us off the perch. There is no need to panic. The boys are playing football the right way and they just need to rediscover their touch in the final third and start applying their finishing instincts.
Next up is a trip to the Saffrons on Tuesday 28th Jan for the SCFA RUR Cup semi-final against Eastbourne Town. Although they have slipped a little way down the table, this will be a difficult night in front of what is always a vocal and somewhat hostile crowd. So, we need as many supporters as we can to cheer our boys on.
Man of the Match goes to Will Berry. A commanding presence at the back and forged a great partnership with the ever-consistent Liam Hendy. Will was a cool presence at the back and helped his teammates to cope with an early onslaught by Horley. His positional play, reading of the game and distribution were outstanding.
Report by: Dave Wilmott
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