Pitching In isthmian League South East Division Saturday 25.03.2023
Lancing – 3 V Three Bridges- 0 Attendance 304
Lancing Starting XI:
Alieu Secka, Will Berry, Marcus Allen, Tom Butler, Sam Bull, Finn Daniels-Yeoman, Tyrese Mthunzi, Reece Hallard, Modou Jammeh, Mahamadou Juwara, Tommy Blennerhasset.
Substitutes: Jacob Thompson, Kane Louis, Darius Goldsmith, Mohammed Zabadne, Marcel Powell.
Lancing were looking to bounce back from the disappointing 1-0 loss away to VCD Athletic and also reverse the 3-0 loss away to Bridges way back in August. As a precursor to the game Will Berry was presented with an engraved tankard to mark the 250th appearance he made for Lancing when he played against Hythe Town on 4th Feb.
Dean Cox had been busy, recruiting 18 year old talent, Tommy Blennerhasset, a striker, on work experience terms. Tommy made the long journey down from parent club MK Dons, after being released from a loan spell with Potton Utd., in the Spartan South Midlands League. Also back was loanee Sam Bull, who last played for Lancing in January in the 1-0 win over Littlehampton, after which he was recalled by Eastbourne Borough. Jacob Thompson also made a return to the squad, and, last but by no means least, there was the welcome sight of supporters favourite Alieu Secka, back between the sticks, having been side-lined for some weeks with a broken finger.
Lancing were full of energy right from the off and were in control, dominating possession. Bridges were unable to make any headway as the Lancing back four denied them any room for manoeuvre. Finn Daniels-Yeoman and Tyrese Mthunzi disrupted Bridges attempts to play through the middle. With only 8 minutes on the clock, referee Andrew Dunn stamped his disciplinary approach on the game by the award of a caution to Bridges Michael Wilson.
Lancing’s first serious attack came from Mo Juwara, occupying a more advanced role on the right wing. Mo was sent clear by Will Berry and a burst of pace took him to the bye-line but the ball ran away from him out of play, denying him the chance to deliver a ball into the box.
The only time Bridges keeper, Leo Anderson, was called upon in the early stages was to deal with a rebound from Reece Hallard who had blocked a defensive clearance. After an initial fumble, Anderson was able to gather the ball in. By coincidence ,shortly afterwards, there was a similar rebound towards the Lancing goal but way over the bar.
Some of Lancing’s football was a delight to watch with Modou Jammeh showing composure on the ball and finding space to create some flowing moves and Tommy Blennerhasset and Reece Hallard giving defenders no time to settle on the ball. The home supporters were getting a bit restless, impatient for Lancing to secure an end product as a reward for the quality of their play. Their hunger was satisfied on 25 minutes. Reece Hallard won a corner on Lancing’s left. The ball was delivered into the six- yard box and Tommy Blennerhasset lived up to Dean Cox’s description of him as a “fox in the box”, reacting quickly to make contact. The ball was heading goal-wards from him but deflected away to Marcus Allen, waiting to pounce on the far post, and from there he hooked the ball home from close range.
Barely 8 minutes later, Lancing were two up. What a fine goal it was. Modou Jammeh floated a superb cross from Lancing’s left. Finn Daniels-Yeoman judged the fight of the ball perfectly , ghosting in from the right and rising to head the ball back across the goal into the roof of the net.
This helped to settle any nerves and gave them the confidence to continue to press forward. Tommy Blennerhasset and Mo Juwara worked an opening on the right, which produced a corner. Tyrese Mthunzi climbed well to meet the ball in with a powerful header but could not keep the ball low enough to hit the goal.
The half went into added time when Mo Juwara got embroiled in an altercation with an opponent. Mo was provoked by some shoving and reacted with a harmless looking wave of his hand, which may have landed somewhere which referee Dunn considered merited a caution. But the instigator got off Scot free.
Whether it was this caution which prompted Dean Cox to introduce to Marcel Powell for Mo Juwara for the second half I cannot say, but it seems to have been a sensible move. Sam Bull was enjoying some good interplay with Reece Hallard on Lancing’s left but Reece was a little wayward with his finishing.
Cameron Lawson worked himself into a good position for Bridges and it was a close call for Lancing but his well struck effort was narrowly wide of the upright.
With 55 minutes gone the game was taken out of Bridge’s reach. A careless back pass to Leo Anderson was intercepted by Tommy Blennerhasset, who kept a cool head planting the ball into the bottom corner with Anderson stranded.
Bridges immediately made a determined effort to reduce the arrears with a powerful burst down their left but Will Berry nullified the threat with a solid tackle. Reece Hallard was proving difficult to stop cutting in from the left and another caution was issued to Bridges when Hallard was fouled.
Marcel Powell was showing good pace and close control on Lancing’s right and one particularly enterprising piece of play from him enabled him to set Modou Jammeh in on goal. Modou broke clear but saw his effort on goal blocked by a defender.
Lancing were also on the receiving end of a second caution, this time it was Marcus Allen to have the yellow card shown, somewhat mystifyingly. Also, a bit of a mystery was the caution issued to one of the Bridges management on the touchline.
Kieron Pamment hit a good effort towards the Lancing goal but it took a wicked deflection over the bar for a corner. A dangerous ball in was heading for the far post but Alieu Secka showed superb handling getting both hands to reach up high as he was falling backwards.
This was as close as Bridges would come as Lancing played the game out with some good possession football.
Darius Goldsmith came on for Will Berry on 71 minutes and late in the game, on 85 minutes, was hacked down by Brandon O’Nell, which earned him an immediate red card. A final substitution saw Tommy Blennerhasset, who had performed well on his debut, which the home supporters acknowledged with their applause, being replaced by Mo Zabadne.
There was still time for Tom Butler to spoil an otherwise faultless display with a misplaced square ball across the edge of the box, which Bridges sub., Fareed Salifu wasted by blazing the ball over the cross bar.
A thoroughly deserved three points for Lancing, who had rediscovered some good form. They managed to restrict Bridges to hardly any serious threats on goal. I cannot recall Alieu Secka having any shots to save. He had to be at his best to deal with some dangerous high balls from free kicks and corners but that was it.
If Lancing can maintain this form, they should be safe but there is no room for any complacency. Although I enjoyed several happy years as a Bridges player, my loyalty is now firmly to Lancing but I hope Bridges can pick themselves up to keep their place in this league.
Lancing now occupy 14th place with Bridges in 13th and Sittingbourne in 12th, all sharing 39 points.
Wherever you looked there were very good performances from Lancing players. I was honoured to be able to participate in the award to Will Berry and I was tempted to exercise my Match Ball sponsor’s privilege by naming him as Player of the Match. He was certainly a candidate but I went for Lancing’s inspirational skipper Finn Daniels-Yeoman. Prodigious work rate, winning tackles, box to box energetic display but his goal was a delight to witness and, believe it or not, that was his first of the season.