PITCHING IN ISTHMIAN LEAGUE
SOUTH EAST DIVISION.
Lancing 0 v Chatham Town 1
Saturday 8th April 2023
Attendance : 291
LANCING STARTING XI :
Alieu Secka, Tyrese Mthunzi, Marcus Allen, Tom Butler, Will Berry, Finn Daniels-Yeoman (Capt.), Darius Goldsmith, Modou Jammeh, Marcel Powell, Tyrone Madhani, Tommy Blennerhasset.
Substitutes: Mohammed Zabadne, Charlie Towning,, Kane Louis, Mark Goldson, Alfie Beck.
Some changes enforced on Dean Cox as a result of injuries to Mo Juwara and Sam Bull and the unavailability of Reece Hallard. In to the starting line-up came Tyrone Madhani, Darius Goldsmith and Marcel Powell.
Chatham were lying second in the table, just behind Ramsgate on goal difference but if you were a visitor from Mars, at your first South East Division match, you would have been surprised to find that 12 places separated the two teams. Such was the narrow difference in the performance of both teams. Newly promoted Chatham were enjoying a highly successful season but only secured a slender 2-1 victory when the sides met back in December.
Chatham looked to unsettle Lancing from the kick off with their opening high tempo play, particularly along their right flank with the pacy Ike Orji getting in behind and hammering a cross into the six-yard box. Lancing cleared the ball but it came back in shortly afterwards with a clever lob but the alert Alieu Secka was quickly off his line to gather the ball in.
Lancing were not prepared to sit back and invite Chatham to keep them on the defensive. Darius Goldsmith, Finn Daniels-Yeoman and Mo Jammeh were beavering away in the midfield and trying to make progress into Chatham’s final third. Darius displayed excellent control on the ball to battle clear of a couple of challenges and deliver his side’s first shot on target which had keeper Ben Bridle Card at full stretch to put the ball behind for a corner. Lancing kept up the pressure as the corner was cleared, ending with Marcel Powell putting his effort over the bar.
With 20 minutes gone, Chatham came close to taking the lead. Emmanuel Oleyede let fly with a thunderbolt which threatened to demolish the upright. A few inches to the right and he might have broken the net. Alieu Secka would have stood no chance. Lancing’s front three , Madhani,Blennerhasset and Marcel Powell were not giving defenders much time to settle on the ball but the Chatham back line showed all their experience as they managed to keep possession and play the ball out. Tommy Blennerhasset was doing his best to try and control balls played into him with his back to goal but, time and again, he was receiving a nudge in the back which the referee failed to spot.
Marcel Powell was having a good tussle with his full back and created Lancing’s best chance of the first half getting beyond his man and floating a cross into the six-yard box. Tyrone Madhani out jumped his marker and got his head to the ball but could not hit the target.
Chatham were hitting a number of long balls to try and get in behind Lancing but the home side’s back four of Mthunzi, Allen , Butler and Berry were solid winning balls in the air and disrupting a series of dangerous attacks with some well-timed tackles and interceptions.
Alieu Secka had not been called upon to make many saves but had to show safe handling to hold on to crosses towards his goal from corners and free kicks.
Some of the referee’s decisions were hard to fathom. Marcel Powell, defending near the corner flag on Lancing’s right was clearly pushed, causing the ball to come off him and go behind. A clear free kick for Lancing but a corner was awarded which could have led to a goal but for Alieu Secka ‘s safe pair of hands.
On the stroke of half-time, Ike Orji, who had been kept fairly quiet by Will Berry, since his burst forward in the opening minute, suddenly burst into life again heading towards the bye-line with Finn Daniels-Yeoman in hot pursuit. He created just enough space to deliver an excellent cross but it ran through the six -yard box, with no-one able to apply the finishing touch , and away to safety.
Play was end to end as the second half got underway. At one end Marcel Powell showed some clever footwork, making progress into the box, earning a corner, and at the other end Marcus Allen showed coolness under pressure putting the ball over his own cross bar to cut out a threatening ball in.
On 54 minutes Jack Evans got the decisive breakthrough, which was to prove the only goal of the game. It came in highly controversial circumstances. Referee Sean Phillips stunned the Lancing players by identifying an infringement in the penalty area, which he considered justified the award of a penalty. Protests by Lancing players cut no ice. In the process, Tyrone Madhani got himself a caution and, to me, somewhat bafflingly, Alieu Secka appeared to have made some contact with the upright, sufficient to earn himself a caution. What the offence was, perhaps others can explain !!!
This stung Lancing into a determined response. Minutes later, Lancing appeared to have had a legitimate penalty claim, which failed to impress Mr.Phillips. Lancing were taking the game to Chatham and were looking to get forward at every opportunity. A powerful run from Will Berry took him from deep in the Lancing half towards the Chatham penalty area. Will opted to shoot but his effort was deflected wide for a corner.
Chatham still had something left in their locker and a long ball was just beyond Tyrese Mthunzi , reaching Ashley Nzala but he wasted a good chance to increase his side’s lead by blazing the ball clear of the crossbar . Lancing were penning Chatham back in their own half. Marcus Allen was advancing unchallenged in to the opposition half and delivering a series of well flighted crosses into the heart of the Chatham defence. He also progressed far enough forward to try his luck with a shot from 25 yards which was deflected for a corner. Tom Butler out-jumped defenders at the far post, as the ball was delivered in, but his glancing header landed wide of the upright.
Lancing made their first substitution on 71 minutes with Mark Goldson replacing Tyrone Madhani. Shortly afterwards, Chatham brought on Callum Peck for Ashley Nzala and he almost made an immediate impact cutting in at pace from the left but finding Marcus Allen in his way.
Lancing made a second substitution, replacing Marcel Powell with Charlie Towning. Tommy Blennerhasset continued to harass the Chatham central defenders and won the ball at the edge of the box before finishing with a good strike just wide of the upright.
Chatham still had a sting in the tail and Callum Peck again used his pace to cut in from the left of the attack and bring a good save from Alieu Secka. Tom Butler then distinguished himself with some superb defending as Chatham attacked down their right.
Lancing’s last throw of the dice was to bring on Kane Louis for Darius Goldsmith. Lancing were almost caught out with a quick counter attack which led to a cross from the left met with a volley which flew over the cross bar.
Lancing continued to press for an equaliser with Marcus Allen’s crosses into the box rattling the visitors’ defence but without Lancing being able to fashion a clear-cut opening.
Another defeat by single goal margin, the twelfth this season. Frustration in the Lancing ranks to have lost by a hotly disputed penalty and to have seen one and possibly two reasonable penalty claims not given the slightest acknowledgement. Evidence captured by the lens of photographer Paul Smith seems to back up Lancing’s claims.
Lancing competed well all over the pitch and played some nice flowing football at times. All that is missing is a cutting edge to finish off some good creative play. But, of course, it is goals which win matches. The back four were impregnable and the team have rightly earned recognition for making Culver Road a difficult ground for visiting teams to pick up three points.
I think Chatham were relieved when the final whistle blew. With Ramsgate dropping two points at home to Beckenham Town, they go top with a two-point margin.
Thanks to Vice Chairman Barry Sutton for being match ball sponsor and for selecting Modou Jammeh as his Player of the Match. Modou was back to somewhere near to his best. To see Modou , not exactly a giant , resisting some strong tackles and retaining control of the ball, and also biting into the tackle against players twice his size and coming out on top was great to witness.
So, squeaky bum time as they say. Lancing sit at 15th in the table on 39 points, two points behind East Grinstead, level on points with Three Bridges, but with VCD on 37 and Haywards Heath on 36 breathing down their necks. The latter two occupying 17th and 18th places, just above the bottom two of Faversham and Corinthian.
All have three games left. Lancing are at Littlehampton on Easter Monday and away to Sheppey before finishing at home to Sittingbourne. No easy games but all winnable.