Dave Wilmott reports on Saturday's victory against Loxwood.
- Berry (60')
Lancing Starting XI
Mitch Bromage, Darius Goldsmith, Will Berry, Liam Hendy (Capt.) Mo Juwara, Darren Budd, Finn Daniels-Yeoman, Tom Caplin, Matt Daniel, Ben Connolly, Mitch Hewens.
Ebou Jallow, Dave Sharman, Bradley Campbell -Francis, Josh Gould, Harrison Parker.
Buoyed by the news, which broke during the week, that they had been accepted into the Isthmian League, Lancing were keen to bow out from the SCFL with a trophy. The stage was set for a good competitive match in front of a crowd of over 300 whose spirits were not dampened by the occasional outburst of rain. It was good to see so many regular Lancing supporters present, including a large group of youth supporters (the Ultras) who provided their usual vocal support and banter. My hat goes off to the intrepid Grahame (The Womble) Holman who made his way to Steyning on his mobility scooter along the river path (as I understand it). Such dedication to the Lancing cause. There were also some familiar faces in the crowd; former Lancing players, such as Charlie Pitcher and ex-manager Naim Rouane.
The coming together of these two teams produced the rare sight of two brothers in opposition. Mitch Bromage, in goal for Lancing and brother Tad, at centre back for Loxwood. A difficult dilemma for supporting family members. Neutrality the best option??
Lancing have a good record against Loxwood with six wins out of six, but Loxwood shrugged this record aside as they came out determined to play at a high tempo and hustle Lancing out of their stride with a high pressing game and energetic closing down. An early free kick gave Loxwood the opportunity to get the ball in the box and put Mitch Bromage under pressure, but Mitch held the high ball superbly despite the physical challenge.
Neither goal keeper was tested in the opening 20 minutes. Tom Caplin broke into the Loxwood box and set up Matt Daniel whose shot across the face of the goal was deflected wide for a corner.
Lancing were enjoying plenty of possession with controlled play from the back orchestrated by Will Berry and Liam Hendy but, too often, progress into the Loxwood final third broke down and, although winning the ball back as Loxwood tried to launch counter attacks, Lancing’s movement was side to side without getting in behind and testing Fraser Trigwell in the Loxwood goal.
A rare loose pass from Will Berry followed by a couple of missed tackles enabled Luke Brodie to draw Mitch Bromage off his line and slip the ball along the ground past him into the net to give Loxwood the opener on 22 minutes.
It took a good 30 minutes before Lancing were able to make any headway. A good cross to the far post from Darren Budd reached Mitch Hewens but he was unable to get a good connection with his head. Shortly afterwards, Ben Connolly struck a fine shot on the turn which brought a great one handed save from Trigwell turning the ball over the cross bar. Two corners followed and with Liam Hendy still forward, he was fouled giving Darren Budd a free kick which he floated to Hendy on the far post. But Hendy appeared to have been baulked as he rose to head the ball, causing him to miss connection with it.
Callum Dowdel, on Loxwood’s left wing had been kept fairly quiet for some time but he sprung to life with a good run to the bye line. His cross into the six-yard box was cut out by Hendy and the ball rebounded dangerously close to crossing the line but Mitch Bromage was alert and was able to gather the ball in. The first half closed with Lancing having enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and showing a greater threat in the opposition territory in the latter stages.
Lancing came out for the second half clearly intent on moving the ball forward more quickly. Good build up play down the right finished with Ben Connolly getting a shot on target but without the power to trouble Trigwell. The first yellow card came three minutes into the second half when Tom Caplin was penalised for bringing down Josh Bradley as he was trying to launch a counter attack along Lancing’s left. Minutes later, Loxwood received their first booking when a good attacking run by Darius Goldsmith was brought to a halt by a foul tackle by Callum Court. Fraser Trigwell, once again, came to his side’s rescue when he was at full stretch to keep out a goal bound shot from the edge of the penalty area from the hard-working Tom Caplin.
This was quickly followed when Mitch Hewens and Darius Goldsmith, combined to set up a header from Ben Connolly which again forced Trigwell to react with a fingertip save. The pressure was building in Lancing’s favour as Tom Caplin burst forward following a short corner and, again, Trigwell reacted well to keep the ball out at the near post. The breakthrough came on 59 minutes when Mo Juwara resisted a strong challenge from two defenders and floated a left foot cross to the far post where Will Berry rose above his marker to power a header home.
Lancing saw the opportunity to increase the pressure by bringing on the pacy Bradley Campbell-Francis for Matt Daniel on 61 minutes. A few minutes later the impressive Mitch Hewens was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Josh Gould A couple of minutes later Darren Budd picked up a knock and had to leave the field which saw Ebou Jallow coming on. Mo Juwara had been rather harshly penalised, trying to retain possession under strong challenges, and on the second occasion found himself going in the referee’s notebook.
Ben Connolly’s pace got him behind the Loxwood back line but Trigwell was quick to read the danger racing from his line to hack the ball clear. Bradley was making some strong runs down Lancing’s left but coming up against some good defending. On 70 minutes, Luke Brodie was replaced by Matt Penfold for Loxwood.
With a little under 15 minutes left, Tom Caplin, who had been dynamic in midfield was replaced in a move which allowed Will Berry to add his strength to the midfield, with Lancing legend Dave Sharman coming on for the incredible 400th game for his club, slotting into the centre of defence. Loxwood made their final substitution on 80 minutes with Tom Frankland coming on.
Lancing were pressing hard for the winner. Ebou Jallow set up Will Berry, nodding the ball back to him but Will’s volley was off target. Ben Connolly’s pace, once again, got him clear and a goal effort looked a certainty but a superb tackle by Tad Bromage saved the day for Loxwood. Mo had ventured into a central position and was powering towards the Loxwood penalty area. He shrugged off a foul to continue his run but referee Daniel D’Urso, who had handled the game well, on this occasion was a little hasty with his whistle, denying Mo an advantage. An intelligent free kick by Josh Gould picked out Ben Connolly allowing him to make a run on goal but his sharp shot could only find the side netting. This was his last involvement as the game moved into added time with Lancing making their 5th and final substitution with Harrison Parker coming on. Loxwood then received their second yellow, with Jordan Warren transgressing. The full-time whistle blew shortly afterwards and the sides prepared for the dreaded penalties to decide the winner.
Lewis Westlake, Loxwood’s skipper was up first but he blazed his effort over the bar. Darius Goldsmith put his away confidently and so did Loxwood’s Josh Bradley. Lancing’s next two failed with Liam Hendy’s being well saved by Trigwell and Will Berry’s fierce drive striking the cross bar. Tad Bromage got the better of his brother to put Loxwood 2-1 ahead. Matt Penfold’s was well saved by Mitch Bromage. Ebou Jallow brought the sides level, followed by successful conversions by Jordan Warren and Mo Juwara. So, level at 3-3 and into sudden death. Mark Goodson for Loxwood and Josh Gould for Lancing put theirs away. Mitch Bromage then pulled off a superb save with his outstretched leg to deny Jack Frankland and then stepped up to bury his into the net and hand the Shield to Lancing.
Joyous scenes as ecstatic team members, management (with James Rhodes still protecting his damaged ribs) coaches, physio, the ultras mobbed those still on at the end of the game. Mass hugging, with little regard to social distancing, as Lancing celebrated their win. Consolation was extended to the dejected Loxwood team.
Lancing deserved their win, despite Loxwood putting up a real determined effort. Lancing enjoyed the greater share of possession and, as the game wore on, created far more scoring opportunities.
In a sense it was a story of two goal keepers. Fraser Trigwell made some vital saves to keep his side from going behind. At the other end, Mitch Bromage was hardly troubled. He was involved in the game quite a lot receiving the ball from his defenders and passing out with unerring accuracy. He was Lancing’s hero with two penalty saves and the scorer of the winning penalty.
The depth of strength in the Lancing squad was evident with players James Waters, Joe Kennard, Conrad Honore, Drew Matthews, all of whom contributed to Lancing’s successful end of season campaign, not in the final team.
The commentary by the YIR duo for the live recording of the game, which I got up very early on Sunday morning to view, was very entertaining. They made Fraser Trigwell their MOM (from a Loxwood perspective) and you cannot argue with that. They were also highly complementary about Finn Daniels-Yeoman.
For Lancing, the small group of committee enjoying a post-match beer debated the issue and, by a majority, selected Will Berry as their MOM. Alongside Liam Hendy he was imperious at the heart of the Lancing defence and was solid when moved into midfield for the last 15 minutes. Notwithstanding that his only misplaced pass partly contributed to Loxwood’s goal and, unusually, he failed to convert his penalty, he got the all-important equaliser and his all-round positive performance outweighed these adverse incidents.
So, a disjointed and challenging season ends with a trophy, which the management, coaches and players deserve after great efforts to keep the team spirit and fitness levels high. A great boost for Chairman Steve Taylor, son Jack, Vice Chairman Barry Sutton and a reward for all their hard work coping with all the Covid rules and regulations, looking for ways to ensure the club’s finances remain intact to keep the club afloat in the absence of paying supporters at Culver Road. Thanks also to my fellow committee members who have all contributed to the smooth running of match days and carrying out a number of other tasks.
The hard work begins again as Lancing have to build for a future in the Isthmian League. Tough challenges lie ahead but with the enthusiasm of the current management evident, the future looks bright. It is to be hoped that supporters will flock back to Culver Road as soon as possible to enjoy the higher standard of football on offer and sponsors will, once again, wish to be associated with Lancing F.C.
I can now put my match day note book to bed for a while.