Lancing Starting X1:
Alieu Secka, Mohammed Joumaa Zabadne, Joe Rye, Liam Hendy(capt.), Harrison Parker, James Rhodes, Will Berry, Darius Goldsmith, Lorenzo Lewis, Ismaila Diallo, Gabriel Robinson.
Substitutes: Matt Daniel, Destiny Ojo, Bradley Campbell-Francis, Sisimayi Ngezvashe, Andrew Dalhousie.
After the disappointing home defeat by bottom placed Phoenix Sports, Lancing were thrown in at the deep end with an away fixture against second placed Ashford United (The Nuts and Bolts) at the Homelands Stadium. Would they sink or swim?
Lancing faced tough opposition without the services of inspirational skipper and midfield driving force, Finn Daniels -Yeoman, taking the precaution of resting a tight hamstring. Also missing was joint manager/player Kane Louis, as a result of a Covid issue.
Ashford began brightly with full back Jack Steventon trying to catch Lancing cold with a strike on goal deflected for a corner. Lancing were not overawed by their highly paid, (comparatively speaking), opponents and Ismaila Diallo was on the end of a cross from the right by Gabe Robinson, volleying the ball over the bar.
Almost a copycat at the other end with Gary Lockyer latching on to a header out from the back but also putting his volley too high. Harrison Parker deployed his long throw to good effect. His throw was headed clear but falling to Ismaila Diallo who responded with a sharp drive on goal, pushed wide by keeper Tyler McCarthy.
It took Ashford barely ten minutes to go in front. Alieu Secka had moments earlier advanced to the edge of his area to gather the ball in, but soon afterwards, was unlucky when he got low down to get his body in the way of a powerful low drive, only for the ball to rebound from his chest and fall to Jay May, who could not miss from a couple of yards. For the next 10 minutes, or so, Ashford took control. Alieu Secka was not showing his usual accuracy passing out with the ball on the
ground and this allowed Ashford plenty of opportunity to put the Lancing defence under pressure, as they were being gifted possession. But Lancing were defending well and able to contain the threat. James Rhodes was seeing more of the ball as the half progressed and was pulling the strings for Lancing with strong support from Darius Goldsmith and Will Berry.
Joe Rye, who is continuing to show what an accomplished defender he is, made a good interception mid-way in the Lancing half, taking the ball on a good run towards the Ashford penalty area but lost control at the last moment.
Ashford continued to create scoring chances as Jack Steventon hit a superb cross which Gary Lockyer met with a diving header which Alieu Secka kept out with a fine save to his right.
Alieu was now finding his range and accuracy with his passing, sending a long pass to Mo Zabadne on the right touchline, but Mo’s usual fine ball control, for once deserted him and this allowed Ashford time to send a fine pass into the box where Tashi-Jay Kwayie was ready to pounce and put his side two up on 32 minutes.
Lancing did not allow their heads to drop and soon reduced the arrears. Will Berry sent the ball wide to Mo Zabadne, who passed it on to Gabe Robinson. He sent the ball into the home six-yard box from where it was headed out of play for a corner. Harrison Parker got his head to the ball from the corner, but it was cleared from the goal line but only as far as Joe Rye, who was quick to react and get the ball over the line for his first Lancing goal.
Play went from end to end. Gary Lockyer, a good target man for the long balls Ashford were knocking forward, received the ball with his back to goal. He shot on the turn and forced another fine save from Alieu Secka.
The half finished with another burst of pace from Lorenzo Lewis leading to two successive corners, from which Lancing were unable to profit.
Lancing were clearly buoyed by Joe Rye’s goal and showed plenty of forward momentum in the second half, taking the game to Ashford. Ashford made their first substitution on 55 minutes, with Frannie Collin coming on for Tashie-Jay Kwayie.
Mo Zabadne showed plenty of attacking threat with the speed of his support from the right back position. From one of his forward runs, a foul was awarded to him. The resultant free kick reached Harrison Parker whose effort on goal struck the upright.
Lancing replaced Gabe Robinson with Bradley Campbell-Francis on 62 minutes and he was soon causing the home defence some problems with his fast direct runs along the right flank. On 66 minutes Ashford’s Luke Burdon was substituted for Jay May. Two minutes later Lancing’s never say die attitude paid off when Ismaila Diallo quickly closed down Liam Friend, nicked the ball from him and scampered at a rate of knots towards the Ashford goal. There was no catching him and, as Tyler McCarthy advanced from his goal line to close him down Ismaiala coolly stroked the ball past him low into the net.
Luke Burdon tried to restore Ashford’s lead evading two defenders and aiming a shot towards the far corner only to see it fly just wide. For the last quarter of an hour Lancing brought on the experienced Matt Daniel for Ismaila Diallo and for the last ten minutes introduced new signing Andrew Dalhouse for James Rhodes, who had earlier received a knock.
Lancing continued to strive for a winner and in added time it almost came as Bradley Campbell-Francis showed the home defence a clean pair of heels with a sprint towards goal but, before he could unleash a shot a tackle brought him down and robbed him of the ball, which went out for a corner. We few Lancing supporters appealed, more in hope than expectation, for a penalty but no joy from referee Peter Conn. Lancing had survived some nervy moments at the other end but defended well to hold on to a draw.
Another indication from Lancing that they deserve to retain their place in this league and that they earned the praise afforded to them by Ashford manager Tommy Warrilow in his programme notes, in which he described Lancing as “a very, very good side from some of his contacts down in Sussex so whilst their league position tells you a different story, it’s certainly not the case “
So, for the dedicated trio, myself, Terry and Brian, plus two regular home Lancing supporters, both named Andy, it was well worth braving the torrential rain and flooded roads to get to the game and see our lads not allowing last week’s defeat to affect them. It might have been a bit of a steal to come away with all three points but they came close and were well worth a share of the points.
The new signing, the tall, muscular striker Andrew Dalhouse was not on the pitch long enough to form any opinion, but he will certainly add a different dimension to Lancing’s squad.
Apart from a few misplaced clearances Alieu Secka made some good saves and important catches of high balls into the box. Solid work from the back four, real graft and guile from the midfield and plenty of pace from the front players to keep the home defence on their toes.
We committee found difficulty in distinguishing between Mo Zabadne, Joe Rye and James Rhodes for our MOM but after conceding an early goal it was vital for Lancing to establish some control and get the home defence on the backfoot. This was when James Rhodes’ experience and excellent ball control proved to be vital and his work on the ball helped Lancing to get a foothold in the game. So well done James as MOM.
Finally, a word about the facilities. A 3G pitch meant the game could be played whilst others were postponed but the surface was not quite to the standard at Culver Road. But no real complaints. The welcome we received and general friendliness and hospitality was excellent. A fine boardroom and bar and the comfortable stand also contained a number of individual boxes. Cleanliness everywhere.
Interesting to listen to Directors Don Crosbie and Derek Pestridge tell us about the origin of Ashford United’s nick name The Nuts and Bolts. It stems from the time of The Great War when there was a local team, The Railway Works, made up of players drawn from the ranks of skilled engineers.
A large car park (some potholes and puddles to negotiate) but ample parking to cater for a crowd of 420. All in all, an enjoyable experience.