Lancing Starting XI
Alieu Secka, Jake LeGrange, Tom Butler, Marcus Allen, Mohamed Joumaa Zabadne, Finn Daniels-Yeoman (Capt.), Darius Goldsmith, Isaiah Corrie, Marcel Powell, Louis Veneti, Sean Stephenson.
Substitutes: Conor Manderson, James Hatch, Ben Bayoko.
After Saturday’s postponement, following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Lancing were able to welcome Cray Valley players, management, coaches, committee and supporters for this FA Trophy match. Cray Valley have made a sound start to the league season with two wins, one draw and one defeat but it was their 3-0 FA Cup defeat of Hastings which sent warning signals to Lancing telling them to expect a difficult game. That proved to be very much the case.
But it was the dismissal of Isiah Corrie around the half hour mark, which was to have a crucial effect on the outcome. Until then, Lancing were managing to contain a very impressive Millers attack, despite being under pressure once the visitors had settled.
Lancing kicked off but their attacking ploy of lining up their forwards on the left was foiled by a handball in the centre circle. Not to be put off by this, Lancing looked bright and full of confidence early on with Marcel Powell and Louis Veneti getting in the faces of the Millers defence. The opening salvo was delivered by Isaiah Corrie whose strike was just wide of the upright.
Marcus Allen showed great coolness under pressure and cleverly worked space to bring the ball out from a left back position, but got caught with a boot to the back of his ankle. It looked painful and a free kick was rightly awarded.
The Millers were exploiting the pace of Jamaican born Denzil Gayle wide on the right. He was running at Mo Zabadne at every opportunity. Mo is no slouch but he was finding it hard going to keep him under control. Once beyond Mo, Gayle wasted no time in delivering dangerous crosses into the box. The Millers were a real threat from corners and Lancing were thankful that Marcus Allen and Tom Butler were able to clear the ball. Marcus did well to get his head to a ball from a corner and put it over from just under the cross bar. Alieu Secka showed, yet again, that he is a very safe pair of hands holding on to anything which threatened his goal.
The closest The Millers came to scoring was a diving header from a free kick conceded by Mo Zabadne just outside the box.
Louis Veneti was put through on goal by Marcel Powell who did well to win the ball just inside the opposition half. Louis was bearing down on goal but was prevented from getting a shot away by some superb defending.
Shortly afterwards, the incident occurred which led to Isaiah Corrie being given a red card. This came after a scintillating piece of skill by Isaiah, slaloming his way through three defenders but the ball, which hitherto seemed to have been glued to his boot, ran away from him. In his enthusiasm to reach it he slid towards his opponent bringing him down. No serious injury seemed to have been inflicted and, at one point, it looked as if referee Jordan McCritchie was going to be content to issue a yellow card caution but it was a red shown to Isaiah.
As if Lancing’s task was not challenging enough, this would inevitably compound their difficulties. From climbing up Devil’s Dyke, Lancing now faced attempting Mount Everest.
My mind went back to the Chichester game when Ryan Davidson committed a far worse tackle injuring Mo Zabadne and escaped with a yellow card. You can sympathise with players dissatisfaction with the lack of consistency of interpretation.
This was the cue for the Millers to up their game and increase the pressure on the Lancing defence. It was all hands to the pump but Lancing were not going to let this unsettle them.
Hassan Ibrahiym drove a powerful effort from distance which Alieu held superbly. Marcus Allen was in the wars again suffering a nasty head injury but, once again, he shrugged off the pain and got on with the game after treatment.
The pressure on the Lancing goal was mounting. Alieu brought off a stunning save at full stretch to divert the ball heading for the top corner over the cross bar. As half time approached, it was backs to the wall for Lancing. Alieu Secka came to the rescue racing from his line to clear a penetrating through ball, followed by a good low save from a free kick and then another race from his line to dive at the feet of an onrushing attacker. As it so happened, the offside flag had been raised but Alieu would not have been aware of this. Just when it looked as if Lancing could reach half time with the sides all square, Sonny Black pulled away from his marker to head home from inside the six-yard box.
Lancing attempted to hit back immediately with Darius Goldsmith heading towards the visitors’ box only to be tugged back. He had managed to free himself and continue his run but, instead of allowing advantage, the referee halted play to award a free kick. You would be mistaken for thinking that this would result in a yellow card for the offender. Guess what !!! Tom Butler was able to reach a high ball to the far post from the free kick and direct his header back across the face of the goal but no Lancing player could get near it.
Immediately afterwards, Jake Le Grange earned himself a caution for what looked a strong but legitimate tackle. The half ended with Mo Zabadne getting his body in the way to deny a goal bound effort from Gayle.
Any chance of Lancing salvaging a comeback in the second half looked beyond them when, a few minutes into the half, Alieu Secka was completely deceived by a shot from Adam Coombes which took a wicked deflection into the corner. They say lightening does not strike twice but The Millers took a 3-nil lead with the half less than 10m minutes old, from what appeared to be another slight deflection which caused the ball to loop up and over Alieu, who was rooted to the spot.
Ben Bayoko came on for the hard-working Louis Veneti and his fresh legs helped to get Lancing forward on the right with Sean Stephenson and Jake LeGrange combining well in support. Jake made way for debutant James Hatch and he helped Lancing to enjoy a decent spell of attacking play on the right. Despite the overwhelming odds against them Lancing continued to show fighting spirit, spurred on by the tireless Finn Daniels-Yeoman and Darius Goldsmith. Marcel Powell continued to take up good positions on the left. Marcus Allen came close with a header from a free kick and Ben Bayoko also got on the end of another free kick but could only plant his header straight into the arms of keeper Chris Lewington.
Lancing had to be admired for finishing the game strongly and had their reward after Finn Daniels-Yeoman had won a corner on the right. The ball found its way to Marcel Powell who hit a superb drive into the top corner from the edge of the box. Some respectability restored by what would only be a consolation goal but a real confidence booster for Marcel.
Unfortunately, The Millers had the last word with what can only be described as a rather soft goal to complete a 4-1 score line.
Not even the most diehard and biased Lancing supporter could deny the fact that Cray Valley fully earned their win. There was pace everywhere you looked. Quick one twos and movement off the ball had to be admired. Some cleverly worked corners and dead balls. But Lancing were holding their own until the unfortunate loss of Isaiah Corrie who had shown great energy getting up and back. The Millers were solid at the back and were able to deny Lancing any good scoring opportunities, so much that keeper Lewington was not really tested.
Some outstanding defending from the Lancing back four deserved to keep the score line lower than it was but some misfortune with a couple of goals did not help.
No time to have a proper debate amongst the group of committee present about our MOM choice. Names put forward were Finn, Mo, Alieu,Tom and Marcus. Having looked through my match notes, and at Paul smith’s superb gallery of match photos and having taken on board his comments, I have taken it upon myself to award MOM to Alieu. A number of instances when, had he not shown a safe pair of hands, the goal would have been under threat. An outstanding save to prevent a certain goal, and always alert to come off his line to clear any danger.
Nice to see James Rhodes back at Culver Road, albeit only as a spectator.