LANCING STARTING XI
Conor Manderson, Jake LeGrange, Marcus Allen, Ashley Mutongerwa, Mohamed Joumaa Zabadne, Tyrone Madhani, Finn Daniels-Yeomans (capt.), Darius Goldsmith, Reece Hallard, Louis Veneti, Tommy Boyle.
Marcel Powell, Jack Newhouse, Josh Gould, Tom Butler, Ben Bayoko.
There was a sense of optimism as Lancing embarked on their second season in the Isthmian League, despite the fact that several established members of last seasons squad, firm favourites amongst them, had departed for pastures new. Alex Walsh and Dale Hurley had been busy recruiting and, after several pre-season friendlies, had settled on some talented replacements.
It was a difficult baptism in the opening game of season 2021/22, away to Sittingbourne who quickly brought Lancing down to earth with the quality of their finishing. But lessons had been learned as the season progressed and there were very few occasions when, despite coming away empty handed, Lancing had failed to impress.
Beckenham Town earned promotion from the Combined Counties Premier League with a creditable record of 107 goals from 38 games and only 38 conceded. They finished as champions, one point ahead of Walton and Hersham, with 92 points. So they were not going to be a pushover.
Lancing needed a good start to bolster team confidence but they faced a scare as early as the first minute. Possession was given away on the half way line, allowing striker Louie Theophanous to launch an attack, but Conor Manderson was quickly off his line to block a goal attempt.
Lancing shrugged this off and their first shot on target came minutes later from Reece Hallard, cutting in from the left with a strike which was not powerful enough to trouble keeper Nick Blue.
The visitor’s diminutive right winger Freddie Nyhus was showing pace and attacking flair but found himself receiving a caution after 13 minutes when the fast moving Ashley Mutongerwa beat him in a race for the ball, with Nyhus being guilty of a late and risky challenge.
Finn Daniels-Yeoman was quick into the tackle, as is his wont, and sent Reece Hallard clear down the left. He reached the byeline and was just able to get in a fine cross before the ball ran out of play. The ball dropped just below the cross bar and keeper Blue failed to hold on to it. The ball dropped close to the goal line and Tyrone Madhani reacted quickly to force it across the line on 17 minutes.
Play was end to end. Jake LeGrange did well to clear a dangerous ball into the box and Marcus Allen made the first of a number of excellent headed clearances. Lancing were also getting forward with intent. Louis Veneti used his strength to win a tussle for the ball on the half way line, switching it to Reece Hallard who played on to Tommy Boyle, whose run on goal produced a corner.
Lancing’s lead was cancelled out on 30 minutes. Beckenham’s central striker was close to getting into scoring positions, only to find himself being flagged offside but, on 30 minutes he timed his advance well, getting on the end of a ball in from the left, which found its way past the Lancing defence, and which he was able to put way unchallenged.
A couple of minutes later, there was a rare sight of Finn Daniels-Yeoman being dispossessed on the half way line, as a ball was played out to him from the back. A pass was threaded through for Theophanous which would have put him in on goal but for the pass being over hit.
Another error from keeper Blue proved costly. A poor clearance was seized upon by Darius Goldsmith who sent it forward to Tyrone Madhani, who unleashed an unstoppable drive which was in the back of the net in the blink of an eye. Lancing were back in front with less than 10 minutes to go before half time.
Beckenham’s tricky right winger was proving to be a real threat but Mo Zabadne was matching him every inch of the way. Mo needed to be at his most alert.
Beckenham were forced into making their first substitution on 42 minutes with Luke Hedges coming on for George Goodwin. They were putting the Lancing defence to the test in the latter stages of the half but some well timed tackles by Ashley Mutongerwa, a powerful headed clearance by Marcus Allen, from a free kick and two saving blocks from Mo Zabadne to halt the dangerous Nyhus enabled Lancing to reach the break with their lead intact.
No changes were made by either side for the second half. A goal kick by Blue forced Jake LeGrange into conceding a corner, with 5 minutes gone, from which Beckenham came close to restoring parity with a header just wide of the upright. Ashley Mutongerwa and Marcus Allen had quickly developed a good understanding and were looking calm and composed under pressure. A second yellow card was handed out to a Beckenham player, Jamie Humphris, who was forced into pulling Finn Daniels-Yeoman back by the shirt to halt a powerful run into the opposition half. From the free kick the ball ran to Marcus Allen, whose first time effort fizzed just wide of the upright.
At the other end Conor Manderson came to his side’s rescue as the ball ran loose after a break down the visitor’s right flank. Beckenham made a double substitution 13 minutes into the second half with the exceptionally tall Alfie Bloomfield coming on for Humphris and Ishmael Erskine replacing Nick Curran.
Reece Hallard continued to be a threat on the left for Lancing and hit another excellent cross which reached Tyrone Madhani but he was unable to keep his effort down.
Mo Zabadne was penalised for a foul deep on Lancing’s left and this almost proved costly as the well struck free kick curled just wide of the angle between upright and cross bar. Lancing were pressing high against the visitor’s defence and they were getting some success in winning the ball. Tyrone Madhani did just that and set Tommy Boyle in on goal but Tommy’s control let him down resulting in a tame effort which rolled wide of the far post.
The dangerous Theophanous came close to bringing the sides level with a fierce drive which Conor Manderson did well to palm against the cross bar, with the ball then being cleared for a corner. When the ball was played in to the box, Alfie Bloomfield used his height advantage to good effect, winning the ball and nodding on to skipper Danny Waldron who volleyed it home from 10 yards. Just under 20 minutes to go and the sides were level again .
Lancing tried to regain the lead with Tommy Boyle working hard to win the ball and get in behind. This almost paid off when Ashley Mutongerwa picked him out as he ran in behind. He was able to get a strike on goal with the outside of his boot but keeper Blue was well positioned to hold on to it. With 10 minutes of normal time to go Tommy succeeded in getting in behind again but this time he rolled the ball across the six yard box where it was met by Tyrone Madhani. He hammered the ball goalwards, but a defender was positioned on the goal line and he managed to prevent the goal from going between his legs and over the line.
Against the run of play, Beckenham were gifted a goal which was to prove the winner, with 5 minutes of normal time remaining. Conor Maderson rushed from his goal line to try and reach a ball bouncing high at the edge of the box. It looked to be just outside the area and Conor attempted to head clear. He was unable to make a good contact and the ball fell invitingly to Alfie Bloomfield, who calmly lobbed the ball into the empty net.
Lancing made their first substitutions immediately, bring on Marcel Powell and Ben Bakayo, taking off Jake LeGrange and Reece Hallard, but it was Beckenham who finished the stronger going into 6 minutes of added time with Conor Manderson making a good save from Theophanous and Finn
Daniels -Yeoman tracking back well to make a headed interception to prevent the ball reaching Theophanous waiting to pounce at the far post.
A disappointing end to what had begun so brightly, but credit has to be given to Beckenham for coming back after twice being behind and for an inspired substitution by introducing the tall Alfie Bloomfield and for playing to his strengths. Lancing had the opportunity to take 3-1 lead and that might have seen off their opponents. But this was by no means a poor showing and was a distinct improvement on their opening fixture a year ago. Our visitors were complimentary afterwards not only for our off field hospitality but for our on field performance. A share of the points would have been a fairer reflection of the balance of play .Sterner tests lie ahead for Lancing, but Beckenham are a threat up front and will trouble other teams
There were good displays from Lancing players wherever you looked. Ashley and Marcus look to be an excellent pairing as centre backs. Finn, Darius and Tyrone a hard working unit in midfield initiating some fine attacking play. Full backs Jake and Mo showing good defensive discipline and a front three who work hard, closing down defenders at every opportunity. And quality on today’s bench even though substitutions were not made until late on.
A difficult choice for the committee to select a MOM .It could have gone to any one of a number of players but we felt that Mo Zabadne was given quite a severe test by the Beckenham right winger. Slight of stature he may have been, but if Mo had not stuck to him like glue he could have torn us apart with his fast direct movement.