Lancing Starting XI
Mitch Bromage, James Beresford, Dan Mobsby, Will Berry, Josh Coupar, Mike Williamson, Tom Caplin, Andrew Briggs, Marcus Dackers, Lewis Finney, Ben Connolly,
Dave Sharman, Mitch Hewens, Alex Fair, Kane Louis, Alex Laing.
It was back to league action for Lancing after the disappointment of being knocked out in the semi-final of the SCFA RUR cup at the hands of Eastbourne Town. Their opponents were Pagham (The Lions). The away fixture ending all square at 3 -3 back in September. Lancing fought back from being 3-1 down, thanks to a Lewis Finney hat trick. Pagham, lying just below mid table were enjoying a revival of form winning four of their last six, drawing one and with only one defeat.
The sides had to contend with a strong gusting wind but no heavy rain. James Beresford was back for Lancing, but with a support on his damaged wrist. James Rhodes decided to rest a troublesome calf strain and there was a new face occupying a seat on the bench, Alex Laing having joined the Lancers from Saltdean.
It was a familiar pattern of play from Lancing in the opening stages as they maintained possession well and worked the ball around, trying to create openings but Pagham were well organised and erected a solid defensive wall which was difficult to penetrate. Lew Finney was the first to test the visiting keeper Jordan Matthews with slow shot to the near post which was turned behind for a corner. A couple of misplaced passes in midfield enabled Pagham to put pressure on Lancing but some solid tackles from Will Berry prevented any serious threat to the Lancing goal. A rare attempt on goal from central defender Dan Mobsby forced the keeper to punch clear as the ball swerved in the wind.
Tom Caplin was working hard dropping deep to collect the ball and running at the Pagham midfield, linking up well with Lew Finney. Their interplay was the main danger for Pagham and as the game progressed, Andrew Briggs became more involved and came close with a shot which was deflected, before being pushed over the bar for a corner. With 37 minutes gone Dan Mobsby had to leave the pitch with an injury. Dave Sharman came on to replace him.
Pagham were looking to get in behind with long balls over the top but the Lancing defence were well positioned to cope with this. Lancing were finding it difficult to turn possession into scoring opportunities but some clever play by Ben Connolly working a quick one two, after a quickly taken free kick put him in a good position but his shot was curled just over the bar, as the first half came to an end.
A half time substitution saw Mitch Hewens replace Marcus Dackers and he was soon forging an attacking partnership with James Beresford, who had switched positions with Josh Coupar in the first half and was now operating on the left for Lancing. There was a noticeable increase in the urgency of Lancing’s attacking play. James Beresford, with good support from Mitch Hewens, was powering forward at pace, either getting to the bye line or cutting inside and going for goal. With the second half 8 minutes old, a good break by James created an opening for Andrew Briggs who took aim for the far top corner and gave the keeper no chance.
Pagham had shown a willingness to shoot from distance but Mitch Bromage held everything that came his way. The first serious threat came with a well struck volley hit on the turn by Jack Barnes which brought an excellent save from Mitch turning the ball over the bar for a corner. Lancing were now breaking forward more quickly and earned a free kick when Andrew Briggs was brought down. This was quickly taken with the ball being fed to James Beresford for him to run at the defence. Pagham were caught out and only succeeded in taking James’ legs from under him. The referee pointed instantly to the spot. Lew Finney took the opportunity to improve on his last failed penalty attempt and, this time, made no mistake as he reached the incredible tally of 50 goals this season.
This seemed to put some life into Pagham and Toby Gunnell tried his luck with a long-range effort which Mitch Bromage gathered safely. Gunnell then got into a good position after a quick break by Pagham but his well struck drive flew wide. Pagham then gave themselves a life line on 71 minutes. Mitch Bromage was forced into making an excellent save but the power in the shot caused the ball to rebound from him and fall invitingly to Callum Chalmers, who reacted quickly to hammer the ball home.
With almost 15 minutes left, Kane Louis came on for Ben Connolly and immediately entered the referee’s note book with a yellow card for the technical offence of entering the field of play without having been given the appropriate permission to do so. This seems to have arisen out of a misunderstanding but the referee was of the opinion that he had no discretion in the matter and a booking was mandatory.
Lancing came close to restoring their two-goal advantage when a clearance from a Pagham defender was charged down with the ball rebounding to put Mitch Hewens in the clear but Mitch put his shot narrowly wide. Lew Finney then drove into the Pagham defence and only a superb tackle prevented an almost certain goal.
As the game reached the closing stages, Pagham put the Lancing defence under some sustained pressure, from free kicks and corners. Pagham came close to an equaliser but Will Berry got himself in the way, as the ball seemed destined for the net, to ensure Lancing kept their lead intact.
Lancing maintain their lead at the top on 65 points, closely followed by Newhaven with 57 points and with two games in hand. An amazing milestone was reached by skipper Lew Finney scoring his 50th goal of the season. Lancing looked to be in control from the start but, again, found difficulty in breaking down a packed and disciplined defence. James Beresford gave Lancing the attacking impetus using pace and excellent ball control to get into the heart of the Pagham defence. With Mitch Hewens in support, the left side of the Lancing attack was causing Pagham real problems. It was only a matter of time before Lancing got in front. With a two goal lead it looked as if Lancing could see the game out comfortably but Pagham had other ideas and it was a nervy end, but Lancing defended well and held out.
James Beresford turned the tide in Lancing’s favour with a superb attacking display in the second half and deservedly earned the MOM award.
Report by: Dave Wilmott
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