Here is Dave Wilmott's report from the action of the Semi Final fixture before it was abandoned.
Lancing Starting XI
Matt Evans, Conrad Honore, Max Blencowe, Liam Hendy, Lewis Broughton, Mike Williamson, Tom Caplin, Lew Finney (Capt.) James Rhodes, Mitch Hewens, Brad Santos.
George Fenton, Alex Fair, Kyle Woolven, Josh Coupar.
Matt Evans was recalled in goal as Mitch Bromage was cup tied. Tom Caplin made his first appearance in 2020, following his return from holiday and, fresh from their excellent performances for England under 18 schoolboys v Australia, Brad Santos and Max Blencowe returned. There was also a debut for Lewis Broughton, having re-signed for the Lancers.
Not a very auspicious start at the Saffrons for Lewis as he found himself in the referee’s notebook with a yellow with the game barely two minutes old. Apart from that, Lancing began brightly. A flowing move by Mitch Hewens gave him the chance to put Lew Finney in on goal. The league’s top scorer finished beautifully, curling the ball into the keeper’s top left corner on 5 minutes. Just over 10 minutes later, Brad Santos beat three men cutting in from wide right and laid on a perfect pass for James Rhodes who timed his run superbly to get himself in the clear before coolly planting the ball in the bottom corner.
Eastbourne got themselves back in the game on 27 minutes when Aaron Capon got on the end of a cross to fire home at the far post. Chances fell to both sides before the first half ended. Eastbourne Town forced Matt Evans to punch clear from a corner and Tom Caplin finished a powerful run with a pass to Lew Finney but the ball was taken off Lew’s toes as he was lining up a shot. Mitch Hewens had looked lively and looked to be bearing down on goal but a solid tackle kept him at bay. At the other end, Town hit a fierce shot narrowly past the upright with Matt Evans at full stretch.
Manager Naim made a half time change with George Fenton coming on for Conrad Honore. The first attempt on goal came from Town and brought a good one handed save from Matt Evans to prevent the ball floating in at the far corner. Brad Santos used his electric pace to race clear and it looked as if his attempted lob would restore Lancing’s two goal advantage but keeper Winterton was quickly off his line and his height enabled him to prevent the lob reaching its target.
Eight minutes into the second half Town got an equaliser with a powerful header from a corner, Sam Cole timing his near post run to give himself room to finish.. At this point Lancing were struggling to contain Town who had raised their game. Lancing were forced back on the defensive and this was to lead to the unfortunate injury incurred by Liam Hendy with almost 30 minutes of play left. Aaron Capon made a strong run towards the penalty area and, as he was challenged by Liam Hendy, he appeared to collide into him. Both players hit the ground and Liam fell awkwardly landing on his elbow, which, we later discovered he had badly dislocated. There was a long delay with Liam laying prone as personnel from both teams endeavoured to make him comfortable and warm whilst awaiting an ambulance. Referee Tom Price and his assistants very sensibly decided that the game should be abandoned. Liam was eventually able to walk off the pitch with assistance and was subsequently transported to Eastbourne hospital.
Much sympathy is extended to Liam with every good wish for a speedy recovery. Liam has probably been Lancing’s most consistent player this season. When we lost Alex Bygraves to a serious injury earlier in the season, Liam stepped up to the plate and was instrumental in helping Lancing to cope with the loss of Alex. He was tuned in to how Naim wanted the back four to play and grew in stature as the season progressed.
He will be sorely missed but I have every confidence that someone else will do their best to fill his boots and the team will rally round and be inspired to maintain their challenge for league and RUR Cup honours.
Spare a thought for Naim and his assistants. To lose a second centre back to a serious injury adds to the pressure of preparing his team for the challenges ahead. I and my fellow supporters will continue to provide all the moral and vocal support we can.
So, we must now focus on our home game against East Preston. Some good news on the injury front is that Kane Louis may soon be ready for a return.
Given the circumstances, MOM was not something we did not have the opportunity to consider on the night.
Report by: Dave Wilmott
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