Lancing Starting XI
Mitch Bromage, Brad Santos, Max Blencowe, Will Berry, Lewis Broughton, Conrad Honore, Lew Finney, (Capt.), Tom Caplin, James Rhodes, Mitch Hewens, Ben Connolly,
Kyle Woolven, Alex Fair, Josh Coupar, David Altendorff.
Lancing were missing George Fenton who has not quite shaken off an injury he has been carrying, Liam Hendy, whose injury has been well documented and Mike Williamson, needed at home to care for a sick baby. Otherwise it was a strong line up with plenty of attacking potential.
East Preston are hovering just above the relegation zone and came to Culver Road hoping to cause an upset. Lancing were looking to consolidate their position at the top of the table and improve on their recent finishing record.
The emphasis on attack was clear from the kick off, as exemplified by a determined run from Brad Santos, operating as an attacking right full back. Brad got into an advanced position on the right. Four Lancing players had made supporting runs into the box but they were more or less in a straight line, as Brad ‘s cross flew behind them. But it did not take long for Lancing to open the scoring. An attempted clearance by an East Preston defender took an upward trajectory, spinning backwards into the path of Ben Connolly. Ben controlled the ball and created the opening for him to fire Lancing into a lead on 9 minutes. Within three minutes Ben had put his side two up. Mitch Hewens made the most of a fine pass and, in turn, picked out Ben Connolly who showed a cool head to put Lancing two up.
East Preston looked to get a foothold in the game and were sending crosses into the box at every opportunity. This almost paid off in the nineteenth minute when a cross from wide on the left was met with a firm header which Mitch was able to keep out. The ball rebounded kindly to the visitors but the shot was blasted high over the bar.
Some good interplay by Ben and Mitch Hewens saw Ben cleverly backheeling the ball into Mitch’s path. Mitch was quick to get his shot underway bringing a good save from Lewis Boughton at his near post. Boughton was soon in action again to keep out a low shot from James Rhodes. James then turned provider, floating a superb pass into the six-yard box for Lew to reach with his head but unable to get sufficient height to keep the ball from clearing the cross bar. At the other end, East Preston continued to get the ball into the opposition box but Will Berry was winning some important headers and nullifying any aerial threat and Max Blencowe was on hand to tidy up any loose balls. Ben Connolly, having been put through with a fine pass by Brad, was denied his hat trick with a fine one handed save by Boughton. Lancing finished the half strongly. Lew curled a fine shot just wide of the upright, and, shortly afterwards Mitch Hewens received a superb long pass from Brad Santos and he, in turn, fed Lew Finney who hit an unstoppable shot into the top corner, just before half time to claim his 41st goal of the season and put his side three up. On the stroke of half time, some brilliant attacking play from Mitch Hewens provided James Rhodes with a scoring opportunity but his well struck effort thundered off the underside of the cross bar and away to safety.
Early in the second half Ben, once again came close to his hat trick with a break down the left channel and a shot which hit the cross bar. East Preston’s task became even more difficult when Lew Finney got his second with a fine finish on 53 minutes.
Referee Nick Blogg, who had controlled the game well, then upset the Lancing supporters by handing out a yellow to Lewis Broughton, who had been unable to get out of the way of a strong forward run as the East Preston player ran straight into him.
Lancing made three substitutions in quick succession. On 60 minutes Kyle Woolven came on for Mitch Hewens, who looked to have picked up an injury. This was followed by Al Fair replacing Ben Connolly and Josh Coupar coming on for James Rhodes. In between there was the little matter of Lew Finney notching yet another hat trick and his 43rd goal of the season, after Conrad Honore had made a fine interception and threaded a perfect pass to his skipper.
Lancing continued to press for more goals. Josh Coupar seized on a defensive mistake and laid on a perfect pass for Al Fair. Al took his time to take careful aim but the ball struck the upright with a loud smack.
East Preston got themselves a consolation goal on 71 minutes when Jack Williamson got his head to the ball just under the cross bar. They almost had a second but Will Berry got himself into a covering position to support Mitch Bromage, who had been drawn out from his goal line, and this pressure resulted in the attacker’s shot hitting the upright.
George Bingham incurred the displeasure of the referee with 7 minutes to go and was sent to the sin bin for disputing a decision too forcefully. He might have been joined by keeper Boughton who brought Al Fair down on the edge of the box as Al was about to round him and plant the ball in an empty net. A yellow was dished out when it might easily have been a red. The young goal keeper had made a number of good saves and it would have been an unhappy way to round off his performance to have been sent off. Al took the free kick himself and was disappointed to see his fine shot hit the bar with the keeper rooted to the spot.
So, Lancing secured three valuable points and helped boost their goal difference. The crowd were treated to some excellent and entertaining work in midfield from Tom Caplin, James Rhodes, Conrad Honore and Lew Finney. Will Berry was a commanding presence at the heart of the defence with great support from Max Blencowe and the full backs, Brad and Lewis were providing plenty of attacking impetus on the flanks. Unfortunate that Lewis Broughton received a yellow in successive games but the latest one was rather harsh.
It was encouraging to see Liam Hendy present to support the team and to hear him talk positively about his recovery prospects. We hope that Mike Williamson’s baby’s health improves so that he can re-join the team on Tuesday, at home to Lingfield.
No surprise that MOM goes to Lew Finney. Another hat trick but some of his skills on the ball were a delight to behold.
Report by: Dave Wilmott
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