Here is Dave Wilmott's report from Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat to Horley Town.
- Connolly (54')
- Goal (44', 85')
Lancing Starting XI
Mitch Bromage, Conrad Honore, Harrison Parker, Liam Hendy (c), James Waters, Ebou Jallow, Finn Daniels-Yeoman, Darius Goldsmith, Matt Daniel, Ben Connolly, Mitch Hewens.
Will Berry, Mo Juwara, Josh Gould, Michael McEnery, Joe Kennard.
A last-minute change in Lancing’s line up saw Mitch Hewens starting in place of Mo Juwara. There was also a welcome return for Conrad Honore, after being forced to miss a few games, coming in for the injured Adam Hunt.
Horley Town came to Culver Road boasting an unbeaten league record and with only one goal conceded. It was easy to see how they have managed to keep clean sheets as defenders Chevan Xavier, Bradley Peters and Ryan Brackpool, in particular, looked really solid and uncompromising.
There was almost an early scare for Lancing in the first couple of minutes when Mitch Bromage was quickly closed down and came close to losing possession. Hearts were in mouths but only momentarily as Mitch was able to steer the ball past the approaching attacker. Lancing mounted their first onslaught on the Horley goal on 11 minutes, when James Waters broke clear down the left and put in a superb cross which had Keeper George Hyde at full stretch to tip the ball over the cross bar. Ebou followed up a minute later with a low shot which Hyde was able to gather. Ebou came close on 18 minutes, after taking over the ball from Ben Connolly, just inside the box. Ebou took careful aim but his shot curled narrowly wide of the upright.
Horley were moving the ball quickly from the back but their passing lacked accuracy at times. Following some good interplay between Mitch Hewens and Conrad, the ball found its way to James Waters who fired in a well struck shot, which was deflected over for a corner.
Lancing continued to carve openings. Harrison Parker was in quickly to win the ball, finding Finn in space who quickly passed it on to Ben. He hit a low hard drive which skidded past the upright. Liam Hendy was next to come close, getting his head to an in swinging free kick from Lancing’s right flank but unable to direct it on target.
Horley were doing their best to close in on Lancing’s defence to prevent them playing the ball out from the back and this nearly paid off when Darius was pressurised into under hitting a back pass to keeper Mitch Bromage. But Mitch was alert to the danger racing from his line to reach the ball. His attempted clearance struck the onrushing attacker and rebounded safely behind for a goal kick.
Having weathered some good attacking play from Lancing for a good 30 minutes, Horley started to turn the tide and were pinning the home side back. A cross to the near post narrowly failed to connect with the head of a diving Horley striker, the ball nestling safely into the arms of Mitch Bromage. Lancing were making the odd mistake in defence but were able to recover. Mitch had the first real save to make on 37 minutes, when sustained pressure ended with Mitch being forced to parry a fierce drive from around the penalty spot and quickly smother the loose ball.
With only a minute of normal time remaining Horley got their reward for their increased work rate when, from a corner, Ryan Brackpool rose above everyone to plant a header out of reach of Mitch into the top corner to enable Horley to complete the half with a one nil lead.
In the first minute of the second half there was the rare sight of Conrad Honore having the ball taken from him at the edge of the opposition box. Horley seized the opportunity to launch a quick counter attack but the finish was weak and easily dealt with by keeper Mitch. Six minutes into the second half, Mitch Hewens showed great control, using his chest to keep the ball in play on the right touchline. He laid the ball back to Conrad Honore. He looked up and hit a perfect cross beyond the far post to find Finn. Finn was quick to spot space beyond the keeper and measured a header back across goal for Benn to hit home from a couple of yards.
Minutes later Conrad needed treatment from Georgie Hill for an injury but, on 58 minutes, he was unable to continue. Josh Gould came on taking over from Darius in midfield, as he took up the right back position. Josh wasted no time in getting into the action. Harrison Parker was showing great pace with some fine bursts down the right from deep in defence. Horley were struggling to contain him, with a yellow card being dished out to one Horley player, who was forced into bringing Harrison down.
Josh was seeing a lot of the ball and curled a deep cross which Ebou met with a header which was pushed over for a corner. Josh then tried for goal himself when he let fly from 30 yards, only to see the ball go just wide. Horley hit back when their centre forward broke clear, forcing Mitch to get down quickly to his right to keep the ball out.
Finn and Ben were working hard to win possession. A free kick was won and Harrison came close with a header from Josh Gould’s free-kick. On 75 minutes Matt Daniel made way for Mo Juwara. Mo was working back to support the defence and won a great tackle deep into Lancing’s left back slot. He ran directly forward at pace setting up a chance for Ben whose low drive was well saved. Another yellow card was awarded for a foul on Mitch Hewens. Josh hit a free kick which keeper Hyde almost allowed to slip through his legs but he was able to make a quick recovery of the ball to save any embarrassment.
Harrison continued to bomb forward along the right flank and set up a chance for Josh who could not keep his well struck shot from clearing the cross bar. Mo was equally dangerous with his forceful runs along the left forcing Horley to resort to fouls to bring him to a halt.
With less than 5 minutes of normal time remaining, Horley were gifted what proved to be the winner. A cross came in from the right which Harrison dived to head clear, only for the ball to glance off his head into his own net. Mitch looked to be well positioned to collect the ball if it had been allowed to travel towards him.
Lancing were not giving up. Michael McEnery came on for Ben on 86 minutes. He got his head to a free kick awarded for a foul on Mo, but could not get it on target. Not long after it was Liam Hendy’s turn to try his luck with a header from another Josh Gould free kick but he, too, cleared the cross bar. Time was running out for Lancing. James Waters burst into the penalty area and appeared to have been tripped but appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Daniel D’Urso who was only yards away. Seconds later the final whistle was blown.
A disappointment for Lancing. Horley Town look very solid defensively but Lancing managed to create a number of goal scoring opportunities, particularly in the second half, which they largely controlled. Lancing have no mean defence themselves managing to restrict Horley to only a few clear-cut scoring opportunities. It was good to see Conrad Honore back playing and we hope the injury which caused him to limp off is not too serious. My sympathies lie with the unfortunate Harrison Parker. He was a real driving force for Lancing, especially in the second half, with great pace breaking out from the back and reaching deep into Horley territory.
A great shame that my friend Brian Wilson, in whose memory I dedicated my match ball sponsorship, did not survive to be present at this game. It was a genuine contest between two good teams, which he would have appreciated.
MOM award goes to Harrison Parker, the reasons for which are quite apparent from remarks above.