Lancing Starting XI:
Alieu Secka, Mohamed Joumaa Zabadne, Joe Rye, Liam Hendy, Mahamadou Juwara, Will Berry, James Rhodes, Finn Daniels-Yeoman (Capt.), Destiny Ojo, Bradley Campbell-Francis, Ismaila Diallo.
Ashley Wadhams, Modou Jammeh, Lorenzo Lewis, Kane Louis, Matt Daniel.
The statistics for these two teams did not hold out much hope for the lowly placed Lancing coming up against the league leaders. Hastings had a points tally of 40 with a goal difference of +20. Lancing 24 points fewer and a goal difference of -20. But, as Mark Twain said, there are “lies, damned lies and statistics” A record gate 2,017 had turned up no doubt expecting a goal fest but Lancing’s previous two results, beating then top side Cray Valley and holding Chichester to a draw, conceding only 1 goal in total, might cast doubt on the reliance on statistics to prove a point. With these sides level at 0-0 at half time, the potential for an upset was looming.
Hastings began with great confidence and Lancing were being put to the test. Hastings came close within minutes of the start when Lancing were caught napping, when a free kick was played short, allowing time for a strike on goal, which was marginally off target. A corner for Hastings on the right cleared the goal area dropping wide on the left before being curled back dangerously high towards the far corner. It caressed the cross bar, possibly with the aid of Alieu Secka’s finger tips, before being cleared to safety.
Liam Hendy did well to stretch and block a goal bound shot but then he was caught unawares bringing the ball out but quickly redeemed himself with a fine recovery tackle. Alieu Secka was the busiest of the two keepers having to concentrate and show a safe pair of hands to deal with some high balls into the box, as well as showing bravery to get down and save at the feet of a rapidly advancing forward.
At the other end the pace and energy of the Lancing front trio, Bradley Campbell-Francis, Ismaila Diallo and Destiny Ojo were making life difficult for the home defenders, closing down quickly to prevent a smooth transition of play out from the back.
Andrew Sesay was the main danger man wide on Hasting’s left and Mo Zabadne was at full stretch trying to prevent his lightning bursts cutting in from the left touchline.
There was frustration at the other end when Ismaila Diallo broke clear only for Destiny Ojo’s defence splitting pass to be over hit.
Hastings were forced into making an early substitution with Kenny Pogue replacing the injured Lloyd Dawes on 29 minutes and he was soon in the action with Sesay setting him up for a great scoring chance, which he put well wide.
The whistle was heard a lot in the opening half hour as a number of fairly petty fouls disrupted the flow of the game. Sesay continued to make inroads along Lancing’s right flank and it took two defenders to deal with him with the ball going out for a corner which had Alieu Secka using his long reach to keep the ball from dropping just under the cross bar, Alieu needing treatment after colliding with the upright.
Mo Juwara did well to come away with the ball after a tussle with Sesay, passing it on to Destiny Ojo, who quickly spotted Ismaila Diallo making a darting run in behind the home back line. Ismaila was marginally offside as the ball was played through.
A foul on Samuel Hasler led to a bit of a scramble in the Lancing six-yard box but Alieu was quick to win the ball. Alieu was being kept busy as he had to make another superb catch from an in-swinging corner.
Lancing finished the half with Mo Zabadne winning a tackle, putting a good cross into the box with the clearance falling to James Rhodes whose effort on goal flew wide.
Early in the second half Scott Knory came on for Freddie Legg. Shortly afterwards, Mo Zabadne received a caution for a foul on Sesay and on 57 minutes he was replaced by Ashley Wadhams. Hastings took advantage of what appeared to be a clear trip on James Rhodes , not acknowledged by referee Scott Rudd and forced Alieu Secka into making a good save. Another possible infringement went unpunished as Destiny Ojo beat two defenders but took a tumble as he was setting sights on the goal.
Play switched from one end to another as both sides were looking to make the all-important breakthrough and, once again Alieu Secka brought off a fine save to deny Scott Knory. Lancing broke forward with real intent and the move finished with James Rhodes hitting a good shot on the turn which was well held by keeper Louis Rogers.
Hastings persistence finally paid off on 69 minutes, when Alieu Secka could only parry a shot away from goal and, after the ball ricocheted around the six-yard box, it landed at the feet of Skipper Jack Dixon who promptly planed it in the net. On 73 minutes, Modou Jammeh made his debut replacing James Rhodes, and this was quickly followed by Bradley Campbell-Francis coming on for Lorenzo Lewis.
Kenny Pogue earned himself a booking on 78 minutes for a wild lunge on Liam Hendy.
Scott Knory showed good pace and control to advance into the Lancing penalty but was brought down earning his side a penalty. This was the opportunity for Hastings to seal their victory but Alieu Secka kept Lancing’s hopes alive with an excellent save from Jack Dixon.
Hastings made a further substitution on 82 minutes with Sam Adams replacing Sam Hasler. Andrew Sesay marred a good performance by tangling with Alieu Secka, as he was attempting to take a quick free kick, and received a yellow card on 83 minutes.
Lancing still had plenty of fight left as they pressed for an equaliser. Lorenzo struck for goal with plenty of power but, unfortunately, no accuracy as the ball flew way over the bar. A good cross into the Hastings box was headed behind for a corner which then produced a second corner but the equalising goal eluded Lancing, despite maintaining pressure until the final whistle.
A spirited performance by Lancing whose overall performance made life difficult for the league leaders without seriously testing Rogers in the home goal. Some home supporters were overheard saying that Lancing were the best team that’s Hastings had faced.
A solitary goal was enough to secure Hastings all three points and there is little doubt that the margin might have been greater but for a fine goal keeping display from Alieu Secka, whom the committee unanimously voted as their MOM.