Following a goalless first half, the Lancers beat Loxwood 3-0 on Saturday at Plaistow Road, following a second-half hatrick from captain Lewis Finney.
- Finney (64', 81', 88')
Lancing Starting XI:
Mitch Bromage, Brad Santos, Josh Coupar, Will Berry, Dan Mobsby, Mike Williamson, Lewis Finney (Capt.), Marcus Dackers, Ben Connolly, Lewis Broughton, James Rhodes.
Andrew Briggs, Kane Louis, Mitch Hewens, Max Blencowe
Brad Santos was back at full back and there was a first start for Wales under 17 player, Marcus Dackers. Lewis Broughton occupied a more advanced role. Tom Caplin was absent suffering an illness.
There was a familiar face in the Loxwood line up. Lancing favourite from a year or two back, centre forward Charlie Pitcher,who was hoping to show that he could do for Loxwood what he did so well for Lancing. Put the ball in the back of the net.
With only one win under their belt this season, which leaves them propping up the league table, Loxwood (The Magpies) were desperate for points but faced an almighty task in trying to take points from table topping Lancing.
Lancing took the game to Loxwood and it was the very lively Ben Connolly who was causing the home defence a major headache. As early as the third minute, Ben’s pace got him in behind, and as keeper Liam Matthews tried to close him down, Ben responded with a sharp strike which hit the side netting. Ben then turned provider setting up Lew Finney whose shot was comfortably held by Matthews. Lancing were dominating possession as Loxwood worked hard to contain their forward movement. Ben had two further goal attempts bringing saves from Matthews within the first ten minutes. Some enterprising play from Will Berry making inroads along the left flank enabled him to find James Rhodes whose shot was deflected upwards dropping in to the welcoming arms of Keeper Matthews.
Mitch Bromage in the Lancing goal had been a virtual bystander for the first 25 minutes but he had to be alert to leave his line to gather a dangerous through ball, and on 27 minutes heaved a sigh of relief as Lancing lost possession when on the attack. Loxwood number 7, Jason Dawson broke clear at pace, with Will Berry in hot pursuit. A goal looked to be a certainty but Dawson put his shot wide of the upright. Boosted by this, Loxwood found some confidence to get forward. Firstly, Will Berry had to clear a dangerous cross into the box, and then Luke Floyd forced Mitch Bromage to make a diving save, pushing the ball behind for a corner.
Brad Santos had been playing in a deeper position at right back but showed his attacking flair with a determined run ghosting past the home defenders, storming into the penalty area. The end result was a clear penalty as Brad was brought down. Up stepped the goal machine, Lew Finney but, to everyone’s surprise, Lew’s spot kick was too close to Liam Matthews who got down well to deny Lancing a 1-0 lead on 35 minutes.
As the first half drew to a close Lancing were almost exposed with balls over the top. Charlie Pitcher was in behind on 40 minutes but flagged offside, and almost on the stroke of half time Charlie again got in behind but, this time, Mitch Bromage was able to get down to his left and make a superb save.
Lancing came out for the second half determined to convert possession into goals. Brad was first to lay down a marker cutting in from the right and striking the cross bar with a rasping shot. Lew Finney was on the end of a through pass and, having beaten the keeper, saw his shot fail to roll over the goal line due to the stodgy surface. Ben Connolly was next to test Matthews with a shot on the turn. He then got on the end of a good cross from Brad but his well-executed volley was narrowly wide.
The first positional change came on 57 minutes with Mitch Hewens replacing Josh Coupar, resulting in Lewis Broughton switching to left back. Mitch was soon showing his attacking threat latching onto another excellent pass from James Rhodes and firing a hammer of a left foot shot just past the upright. Lew was doing his level best to make up for his penalty miss. James Rhodes measured a pass to perfection to put Lew in the clear but Lew screwed his shot wide. He was then denied twice has his shots were blocked. The breakthrough came on 64 minutes. Brad Santos and James Rhodes worked a short corner. James found the space to hit a superb cross into the six-yard box and Lew was quickest to react and turn the ball in for a well-deserved goal.
Ben Connolly was still a threat despite not getting on the score sheet as he seized on a header from Marcus Dackers and volleyed goal wards but into the arms of Matthews. That was the final action from both players as, on 75 minutes, Lancing brought on Andrew Briggs for his league debut, and Kane Louis.
Andrew had an early chance to mark his debut with a goal, taking a free kick from the edge of the box as the excellent James Rhodes was felled as he was motoring towards the goal. Unfortunately, Andrew’s effort flew over the bar. It was Andrew’s turn to be felled en route to goal. This time skipper Lew Finney took charge and curled a beauty over the wall into the keeper’s top right corner on 81 minutes. James Rhodes continued to pose a threat as he enjoyed good service from Kane Louis and hit a fine shot which Matthews did well to hold on to.
Lew Finney finished the game off with either his 49th (or 48th, depending on the accuracy of league stats) rounding Matthews to complete yet another hat trick on 88 minutes.
Another vital win as the teams in close contention behind Lancing all secured three points. Goals were late in coming but not for the want of trying. Loxwood worked very hard and showed a good fighting spirit which should stand them in good stead as they battle to move up the table. There was certainly some good ability in the team and, with Charlie Pitcher up front, there is the hope of goals.
There were good performances all round for Lancing. Goals were proving elusive but the skipper came to the rescue, no doubt spurred on by his penalty miss. Very promising display from Marcus Dackers and Andrew Briggs continued to impress, as he did in the friendly against Horsham.
Only one player can be selected as MOM. This was again a difficult decision with Mike Williamson, Brad Santos and Will Berry all strong candidates but for his all-round display, skill on the ball, difficult to dispossess, a fine range of passing and energy covering a lot of ground, the selection goes to James Rhodes.
Report by: Dave Wilmott
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