Pitching In Isthmian League South East Division

Lancing 1 v Littlehampton Town (The Golds) 0

Monday 2nd January 2023.

Lancing starting XI :

Alieu Secka, Mohamed Zabadne, Thomas Butler, Owen Spicer, Kyle O’Brien, Sam Bull, Darius Goldsmith, Finn Daniels-Yeoman (Capt.), Kane Louis, Modou Jammeh, Tyrone Madhani.

Substitutes: Sean Stephenson, Jake LeGrange, Charles Towning, Ollie Starkey, Will Berry.

Two changes were made from the successful team which earned three points with a 3-2 win against Ashford United. Two goal sub. Reece Hallard was unavailable and Will Berry and Ollie Starkey dropped to the bench. In came new signings Charlie Towning, a dual signing from Worthing, who has appeared for Eastbourne Borough, Three Bridges, Burgess Hill and, more recently, Haywards Heath, plus 18-year-old Sam Bull, also a dual signing, having played for Eastbourne Borough u 19s, u21s and and was a member of the first team squad. Kyle O’Brien also stepped up from being on the bench.

Littlehampton had only played two league games in December, a 1-0 win against Three Bridges and a draw with Burgess Hill Town. They were sitting at 10th place in the league with 26 points, 9 more than Lancing.

In the Lancing line up was one of Lancing’s favourite players for several seasons. Liam Hendy joined The Golds at the start of this season, together with Will Berry, who has since returned “home”.

Lancing came into this game high on confidence after their dramatic win over Ashford United. The 1 p.m. k.o seemed to find favour with supporters from both teams as the fixture drew 464 in attendance, Lancing’s best gate so far this season.

Both sides began cautiously, maintaining possession as much as possible without any serious attempts on goal and it was not until the sixteenth minute that there was a real scoring opportunity and it fell to the Golds, with left back Dion Jarvis getting on the end of a cross from the right, but volleying the ball wide of the opposite upright.

Kyle O’Brien showed plenty of willingness to get forward wide on Lancing’s left, backed up by Sam Bull, and found Modou Jammeh and Kane Louis ready to link up and be available in the final third. The understanding between Kane Louis and Modou Jammeh offered hope to Lancing’s attacking threat but nothing quite came off. It was a fine sweeping pass from Kyle O’Brien which created Lancing’s first goal attempt on 22 minutes. Kyle hit a cross field ball which put Mo Zabadne in behind on the right flank. Mo hit a fine cross which was met by the head of Tyrone Madahani. It was a solid connection but the pace of the cross made it difficult for Tyrone to direct it towards the goal. Plenty of power in his effort but it was off target.

The Golds then had a couple of reasonable attempts. The first forced Alieu Secka to get down low and get his body behind the ball. Alieu then presented Devon Fender with a golden opportunity to punish a misplaced pass but the no.10 went for power, the ball being deflected wide for a corner.

Both defences were coping well, Sam Bull settling in confidently on his debut, and neither side could create any clear-cut chances.

Mo Zabadne was, for once, in trouble and unable to prevent a cross which threatened to find a Golds forward in a good position to score but the ever-alert Owen Spicer read the danger and intercepted the cross and cleared the ball to safety.

Lancing entered the closing stages of the first half in the ascendency. Darius Goldsmith finished off a surging run with a well struck drive just wide of the upright. Mo Zabadne did well to reach two long range passes from Sam Bull and Kyle O’Brien and hit crosses into the box but without there being a Lancing player able to get on the end and get a shot on target.

Quick thinking by Kyle O’Brien almost produced a goal for Lancing with a couple of minutes left in the half. Kyle took a quick free kick setting Modou Jammeh clear on the right. Modou broke forward and laid the ball into the path of Darius Goldsmith who drove the ball with power goal wards but straight into the arms of keeper James Binfield. The closing act of the half was for referee Joshua Langley-Fineing to issue the first caution of the game to Scott Faber.

That was to prove Faber’s last involvement as he was replaced by Scott Kirkwood for the second half, which The Golds began with a raised intensity and Lancing were put under pressure as The Golds posed a greater attacking threat. But the Lancing defence have been sound so often that they kept their shape and discipline and weathered the initial storm. Devon Fender was The Golds main danger man and he brought a good save from Alieu Secka on 55 minutes.

Two minutes later, Lancing made their first substitution with Ollie Starkey coming on for Tyrone Madhani. This was followed by The Golds replacing Dave Herbert with Tarun Rohilla.

Modou Jammeh was seeing more of the ball and causing some anxiety in the visitors’ defence. This allowed Darius Goldsmith to find some space to get forward. Darius managed to beat two defenders and set up Kane Louis but his early shot was blocked by a defender

A momentary fumble by Alieu Secka was quickly corrected as he gathered the ball in without being challenged. George Gaskin was the second Golds player to receive a yellow card on 65 minutes. The game was looking more likely to be decided by a single goal as neither keeper had been seriously troubled and this proved to be the case on 68 minutes when Kyle O’Brien quickly closed down a Golds defender on the edge of the box. Despite his slight frame, Kyle’s tenacity won him the ball and left him with only the keeper to beat. Kyle kept his cool and buried the ball in the bottom corner to the delight of his team mates and the home supporters.

Lewis Jenkins had to leave the field shortly afterwards, having sustained an injury, and his replacement was Scott Packer.

Kane Louis showed excellent close control to put Ollie Starkey in on goal but his effort was turned behind for a corner. Kane got his head to ball as it was delivered in but was unable to keep it down. The Golds were far from finished and Lucas Pattenden made inroads along the right but Owen Spicer closed him down blocking the cross. Ollie Starkey was looking lively for Lancing and latched on to a fine pass from Modou Jammeh but, having beaten one man, was closed down before he could test the keeper.

Charlie Towning made his debut coming on for Kane Louis on 76 minutes. Kyle O’Brien became the first Lancing player to receive a caution, being guilty of a late tackle.

The Golds came close to levelling the score when the ball dropped invitingly to George Gaskin but his volley cleared the cross bar. Minutes later, Lancing had an excellent opportunity to put the game to bed when Darius Goldsmith embarked on another powerful run towards goal. A shot on goal looked to be on for Darius but with two players making supporting runs he opted to pass across the box. If the ball had reached a supporting runner, it would have provided a simple task to get the ball over the line but the pass failed to reach Kyle O’Brien who made a determined effort to slide in and reach it.

Ollie Starkey continued to run at the Golds defence and looked to have been brought down in the box, but the referee interpreted Ollie’s fall as simulation and dished out a yellow card.

With 5 minutes of normal time left the hard-working Mo Zabadne gave way to the fresh legs of Jake Legrange. The pressure was building up against Lancing and The Golds came close with a header from a free kick, and then brought a fingertip save from Alieu Secka who was able pushing  the ball over for a corner.

On the stroke of 90 minutes there was a physical altercation between Jake Le Grange and Dion Jarvis which resulted in red cards for both.6 minutes of added time was announced, still time for Lancing to come close to a second with an effort from Modou Jammeh saved by Binfield and a volley from the visitors wide of the goal and a shot too high. Finally, Alieu Secka had to hold on to a header from a free kick.

So, a very close game was decided by a cool finish from one of the youngest players on the pitch. Not a game of great excitement as both sides tended to cancel each other out with solid defensive play and good competition in the middle of the park. It was played in a good spirit on the whole despite the cautions and the late dismissals.

Liam Hendy did what we know he can do. A pretty faultless display and he managed not to be distracted by some of the “friendly” banter delivered in his direction. Another excellent display from two young central defenders, Tom Butler and Owen Spicer and a fine debut from Sam Bull.

We committee have decided to follow the current trend and name a Player of the Match rather than an MOM, and the first person to be named Player of the Match is Kyle O’Brien. Several good candidates again but Kyle’s excellent goal tipped the balance his way.

A good start for Dean Cox and his team but some stern challenges ahead.

Dave Wilmott