Lancing Starting XI
Mitch Bromage, Brad Santos, Marx Blencowe, Will Berry, Lewis Broughton, Tom Caplin, Lewis Finney (Capt.), James Rhodes, Mitch Hewens, Ben Connolly, Conrad Honore
Josh Coupar, Kyle Woolven, Alex Fair, Mike Williamson, Marcus Dackers
This fixture was rearranged as Lancing’s home fixture because Lingfield had been suffering problems with their pitch, which partly accounts for their lowly league position. Prior to this game they had only played seventeen times and a couple of those were switched to Steyning. They desperately need to pick up points if they are to distance themselves from the relegation zone.
There was the unusual sight, as the teams lined up for the kick off, of former Lancing player and manager, John Sharman dressed in black and clutching a linesman’s flag. John had volunteered to stand in for one of the assistant referees, who had sustained an injury. So grateful thanks to John, whose prompt response for help enabled the game to go ahead more or less on time. Also, thanks to him for donating his match fee to club funds and for conducting himself very professionally.
Lingfield began with a high tempo approach trying to prevent Lancing from establishing their usual passing rhythm. Lancing were being forced to play across the back using Max Blencowe and Will Berry and show patience in trying to get the ball forward. Gradually Lancing began to make progress along the flanks. Mitch Hewens, with good support on the overlap from Lewis Broughton on the left and Brad Santos on the right, were getting forward at pace and creating scoring opportunities. Ben Connolly was first to test keeper Dan Nairne with a snap shot on the turn after Brad Santos pulled the ball back from the by-line. Mitch Hewens then forced a good save with a left foot drive after being put through with an exquisite pass from James Rhodes. Both Lew Finney and James Rhodes were demonstrating their clever skills on the ball and Tom Caplin and Conrad Honore were a real force driving forward. Another inch perfect pass from James Rhodes put Mitch through but keeper Nairne was quick to close him down. Ben Connolly came close with a near post header, just on the 30-minute mark.
Lancing did not have things all their own way, as Lingfield showed an ability to break forward at pace and they caused some anxious moments in the Lancing half but Will and Max managed to thwart any real danger.
The breakthrough for Lancing came on 34 minutes. James Rhodes floated another excellent pass to Lew Finney well inside the opposition penalty area. Lew brought the ball under control with his chest but, as he was about to volley the ball towards goal, he was fouled and referee Robert King had no hesitation about pointing to the penalty spot. Lew took the spot kick himself, calmly side footing the ball to the keeper’s left, increasing his goal tally for the season to 43.
Lingfield came close to an equaliser from a free kick but Mitch Bromage was quickly off his line to punch clear. Brad showed his trickery with a darting run which took him past three Lingfield defenders. Defender number four managed to get in a tackle hammering the ball into Brad causing it to rebound to the keeper. Lew was soon back in the action winning possession at the edge of the Lingfield penalty area before slipping the ball through to Ben Connolly to tap into the empty net. Kerren Boylan, Lingfield ‘s number nine came close to pulling one back as he latched on to a ball over the top but his finishing let him down as he fired straight at Mitch Bromage.
Half time saw the introduction of Mike Williamson for Lewis Broughton. Mike took up his accustomed midfield role with Conrad Honore switching to left back. The game was barely two minutes into the second half when Brad Santos found himself on the receiving end of a yellow card.
Lingfield won another free kick deep in Lancing’s right corner. It was well struck but handled securely by Mitch who launched an immediate counter attack feeding the ball to Conrad. Lancing earned a second yellow on 57 minutes with Tom Caplin the offender. Lew had a great chance to put his side three up on 60 minutes. Seizing on a superb through ball from Mike Williamson, Lew created space for a shot, although being forced wider than he would have liked, resulting in him hitting the right upright.
Three minutes later there was a major controversy which resulted in Lingfield no 10, Connor Wilford being given his marching orders. It was not clear to we spectators what infringement had occurred but there was clearly an altercation of some sort with the referee.
On 67 minutes James Rhodes and Ben Connolly departed, which led to the debut appearance for Marcus Dackers, a tall young player who has joined Lancing for the rest of the season and experienced striker, Alex Fair coming on. Alex was soon giving an exhibition of his skill with the ball at his feet, pirouetting away from defenders and keeping possession well. Lancing had established mastery of the opposition at this stage and were pressing forward at will. A shot from Mitch flew narrowly high from distance and, after a nice passage of interpassing involving several players, Lew finished the move with another effort which was just clear of the bar.
Marcus Dackers came close to crowning his debut with a fine glancing header which drew an excellent one handed save from keeper Nairne. This was followed by a good stop at his near post and another save with his outstretched leg. Lancing kept up the pressure and this finally told with a fine goal, number 44, from Lew, curling the ball into the top corner on 84 minutes. Mitch continued to torment the away defence with his forceful runs but that was to be the final goal.
So, three more points for Lancing and a clean sheet. This puts them seven points ahead of Newhaven and Horley Town, both of whom have a game in hand. Peacehaven and Telscombe are one place further down, nine points behind but with two games in hand.
This was an entertaining game with some fast attractive football on display. Lancing had to show patience early on but gradually achieved dominance to run out comfortable winners. There was enough quality in the Lingfield team to offer the prospect of climbing up the table once they can get a run of games under their belt.
Lancing now face what will be a stern test away to AFC Uckfield, who have already caused a couple of upsets this season, including a 1-0 victory over Lancing at Culver Road very early in the season.
Selection of MOM (or should it be MOTM??) prompted much soul searching, given the number of players who had performed really well. The decision went to Conrad Honore. Hard working and creative throughout and easily made the transition from midfield to left back and finally right back with no loss of performance.
Report by: Dave Wilmott
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