Pitching In Isthmian League South East division.
Ashford United (The Nuts and Bolts ) – 1 Lancing – 0 Attendance 303
Lancing Starting X1:
Alieu Secka, Will Berry, Marcus Allen, Tom Butler, Sam Bull, Finn Daniels-Yeoman, Tyrese Mthunzi, Modou Jammeh, Mahamadou Juwara, Tommy Blennerhasset, Reece Hallard.
Substitutes : Marcel Powell, Charles Towning, Darius Goldsmith, Mohammed Zabadne, Mark Goldson.
The home fixture in December was the baptism for Dean Cox and team and they achieved a very creditable 3-2 victory with a very late winner from Reece Hallard. Dean kept faith with the starting XI who achieved a convincing 3-0 home win over Three Bridges. Back into the squad came Charles Towning and a return for Mark Goldson, who has been scoring goals since leaving Lancing, albeit at a lower level. Ashford were sitting 7th in the table and were looking to finish in the promotion zone. Lancing had given themselves some breathing space after picking up three points against Three Bridges but needed to secure their position with a couple more wins.
Ashford began on the front foot with leading scorer Gary Lockyer, on 19 goals for the season, hitting wide of the upright in the first minute, although there was a suspicion of offside, followed by Johan Ter Horst blazing his effort well over the bar, having been set up by Lockyer. Alieu Secka did well to hold on to a threatening ball in from a corner and, at the other end Marcus Allen got his head to a corner but put the ball over.
Tommy Blennerhasset was full of running leading the line for Lancing, chasing defenders down and looking to get in behind at every opportunity. Mo Juwara was found in space on the right with a long ball from Marcus Allen and he put Tommy into a shooting position but the young striker failed to make a good connection. He then earned his side a corner and caused the home defence problems as the ball came in, and this allowed the ball to reach Will Berry but his effort few over the bar.
Ashford came close on 36 minutes when a long range effort from Cameron Brodie had Alieu Secka stretching to finger- tip the ball behind via the outside of the upright. But Lancing finished the half strongly forcing a succession of corners.
No half time changes were made by either side. Within minutes of the restart, Tommy Blennerhasset linked up with Modou Jammeh and shaped up to shoot from the edge of the box but was blocked by a solid tackle. Referee Joshua Langley-Fineing issued the first caution of the game on 53 minutes to Gary Lockyer and Sam Bull joined him in the referee’s note book 4 minutes later. Shortly afterwards, Alieu Secka pulled off a superb save to keep the scores level. Ashford crossed from a corner. The ball was headed clear reaching Johan Ter Horst just outside the box. He volleyed it goal-wards and had Alieu Secka rising to tip the ball over the cross bar.
A promising move for Lancing, beginning with build- up on Lancing’s left flank, initiated by Sam Bull, saw the ball reaching Mo Juwara on the right. Mo powered towards the bye-line but the ball ran away from him and behind.
With 20 minutes to go Lancing made their first substitution, bringing on Marcel Powell for Mo Juwara. At the same time, Ashford brought on Emmanuel Olowasemo for Ter Horst and he soon made his presence felt with some powerful running, coming close to getting a goal with a drive which grazed the outside of the upright.
Both defences were proving hard to break down with Marcus Allen and Tom Butler restricting danger man Gary Lockyer from causing too many problems but as the game appeared to be heading for a stalemate, with 10 minutes of normal time remaining, Lockyer managed to get the better of his marker. Sam German hit a long ball which was helped on by the wind. Lockyer used his physique to resist a challenge and turn to get to the ball before Alieu Secka, and calmly lofted the ball over him into the empty net.
Lancing redoubled their effort with, firstly, Tommy Blennerhasset successfully getting beyond the defensive line but hitting his effort wide. Then Reece Hallard showed his markers a clean pair of heels and struck from distance forcing keeper George Bentley down low to save.
On 75 minutes, Will Berry stood down for Darius Goldsmith, coming in to midfield with the impressive Tyrese Mthunzi dropping into the back four. With the game entering 5 minutes of added time, Lancing thought they were about to draw level. Reece Hallard hit a ferocious drive which was bound for the top of the goal to the keepers left but Bentley appeared from nowhere getting across his goal to make a stunning save.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards.
There was little to choose between the sides in a competitive and keenly contested match. No really bad tackles and a game played in fairly good spirit. Some good play from both teams. The home side had more efforts on goal but I doubt that Ashford would have felt to have been hard done by if the points had been shared. They knew they had been in a difficult game against a side hard to beat.
A proven goal scorer such as Gary Lockyer, almost a throwback to centre forwards of the past, is a prize asset. Prior to today’s game, he had scored in each of the last 5 games. Today’s goal broke his club’s record for scoring in six successive games. I had a chat with him post- game. He came across as a nice fellah. By right , he should not have played. On the eve of the game his wife gave birth to a daughter, their fourth child. But she gave him the ok to play !!!!
We travelling committee were impressed with our back four, Will, Marcus, Tom, and Sam. We were pretty unanimous that Tom Butler, who had made so many headed clearances and important tackles, just edged out Marcus and Tyrese.
Other results went our way with Burgess Hill and East Grinstead both losing. Lancing remain in 14th place with Ashford moving up to 6th.
Top of the table Chatham are the visitors to Culver Road on 8th April. We need a good attendance from our supporters to cheer our boys to victory.
Just a final footnote, if you are wondering about the disappearance from the squad of Ashley Mutongerwa and Owen Spicer. Ashley has a new business venture which prevents him from playing and Owen has sustained a knee injury which will see him side-lined for the rest of the season.
- Dave Wilmott