LANCING STARTING XI:
Alieu Secka, Harrison Parker, Liam Hendy, Will Berry, Mahamadou Juwara, Finn Daniels-Yeoman, Kane Louis, Gabriel Robinson, Darius Goldsmith, Matt Daniel, Lorenzo Lewis.
Ngezbashe (Anesu) Sisimayi, Ismaila Diallo, Destiny Ojo, Matt Evans.
The question on the lips of travelling committee and supporters was what effect would Tuesday’s surprise defeat by Seaford Town in the RUR cup have on the Lancing squad as they faced the daunting prospect of trying to come away from the Artic stadium with at least a point from a side with a 100 % home record. The home fixture was a 4-2 win by Cray Valley (The Millers), but there was a spirited second half performance from Lancing.
Some changes from Tuesday’s line up brought Kane Louis and Darius Goldsmith into midfield, Matt Daniel as central striker, Lorenzo Lewis and Gabriel Robinson on the wings, and Harrison Parker in at right back.
Lancing started on the front foot with Kane Louis having an early strike on goal, following a Lancing free kick but it took barely 6 minutes for Lancing to suggest that they had indeed put Tuesday’s result to bed. Gabriel Robinson hit a good cross into the box and the ball ran kindly for Darius Goldsmith who reacted with a first-time strike which rocketed into the bottom corner. Something of a rarity this season for Lancing to go in front this early. Lancing had another goal attempt on 11 minutes, Matt Daniel getting his head to another good cross from Gabriel Robinson, which The Millers keeper, Chris Lewington was able to save.
Cray Valley showed why they were top of the table with some quick interpassing, getting forward at pace, particularly along their right flank where the extremely talented Francis Babalola was putting Mo Juwara’s defensive ability to a severe test, but Mo stuck doggedly to the task. The Millers were switching the ball around well and forcing Lancing to defend a number of corners, but Alieu Secka was showing a safe pair of hands and holding on to the ball, despite being under pressure.
Lorenzo looked fresh and eager after missing some games through suspension and he was demonstrating that he had lost none of his electric pace. He finished off one strong run with an early strike from distance, hard and low forcing a good save from Lewington.
Mo battled tenaciously to win a corner, which was only half cleared, falling to Kane Louis, who put the ball back in towards Harrison Parker but he was only able to put in a glancing header just wide.
The Millers were putting a series of dangerous balls into the box but Lancing were compact and defending well as a unit. Liam Hendy and Will Berry showed superb discipline. Alieu was at full stretch to save after a cross to the far post was driven in low.
Lancing were not making the mistake of simply trying to defend a slender lead and were looking dangerous with Lorenzo Lewis and Gabriel Robinson using the width to good effect. Just before half time, Matt Daniel did well to win possession on the half way line and was running clear, with Finn Daniels-Yeoman breaking forward in support. The ball was switched from Matt to Finn and on to Gabe Robinson who finished the move with a shot which the keeper saved with his outstretched leg.
The Millers began the second half keeping Lancing penned in. Francis Babalola continued to be the main danger man and brought a good save from Alieu Secka in the first 5 minutes. The first booking of the game saw Harrison Parker being cautioned for a foul. On 57 minutes The Millers made their first change with Rory Hill making way for Marcel Barrington. Ade Adeyome had a clear opportunity to bring the sides level but poor finishing resulted in the ball being blazed high. This was quickly followed by Hassan Ibrahym getting close with a shot which was fractionally too high.
On the 64th minute, The Millers cancelled out the lead held by Lancing for almost an hour. Lancing had been under pressure since the restart and this paid off. Mo Juwara desperately tried to put some power into clearing the ball from close to the Lancing goal but his miskick only succeeded in driving the ball vertically upwards. As it dropped, Alieu Secka was well positioned to grasp it but a nudge in the back prevented him from doing so causing the ball to fall to the feet of Connor Dymond, who had a simple task to get it over the line. Lancing’s protests were waved away and the goal stood.
Lorenzo Lewis who had been playing through an injury for some while (suspected broken big toe), was replaced by Ismaila Diallo and this was followed on 77minutes with Destiny Ojo coming on for Gabriel Robinson. No lack of pace through these substitutions.
Lancing earned a free kick which was played wide to Destiny Ojo, who fired in a good cross which came off a defender’s head for a corner.
Lancing were not content to sit back and hold on for a point and showed great determination to restore their lead. Harrison Parker finished off a surging run with a low fierce drive which was well saved. Finn Daniels-Yeoman fired in a long-range effort and Liam Hendy curled a shot just wide. With four minutes left of normal time, Lancing’s final substitution brought on Anesu Sisimayi for Matt Daniel, who had worked tirelessly throughout.
Lancing were close to coming away empty handed but could thank Alieu Secka for a superb save a couple of minutes from the end of normal time to keep out a good effort from Hassan Ibrahiym and keep them on the verge of securing a point.
As added time beckoned, Cem Tumkaya received a second yellow following a nasty challenge on Finn Daniels-Yeoman and was ordered off.
Whether this had a bearing on the final outcome is hard to say, but Lancing continued to seek a winner and it came from substitute Ismaila Diallo, whose only previous goal came after coming on as a substitute against Burgess Hill. Darius Goldsmith fed Destiny Ojo wide on the right from a free kick and he delivered a perfect cross which Ismaila rose to meet with a fine header into the far corner.
Lancing went into four minutes of added time, during which they had to defend some free kicks from dangerous positions and, again, Alieu Secka was called upon to make another good save and help Lancing to preserve their lead.
Delight in the Lancing camp. From the despair after their RUR cup exit, the ecstasy of being the first team to take points from Cray Valley at the Artic Stadium. It was easy to see why Cray Valley are sitting top of the table. Quality players wherever you looked but, all the more credit to how well Lancing had to play to keep them at bay.
A happy group of players and supporters, all well received by our hosts who greeted us with a warm welcome and showed as great hospitality.
The win is just the tonic for the Lancing players as they face two tough challenges over the festive period, home to Chichester on 27 December and away to Hastings on New Year’s Day.
For the second successive game the committee felt unable to select an MOM, but, on this occasion, not because no-one had really earned the accolade, but because every single player was worthy of it. So, MOM awarded to the whole squad. A word of praise to the managers. They must have addressed Tuesday’s failure and lifted the team. The team selection and the substitutions worked and the response from the players was first class. But one swallow does not a summer make. Not a time to rest on one’s laurels but gird the loins ready for the next battle.