Lancing 5 v Rusthall (The Rustics) 0
Emirates Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Lancing Starting XI:
Alieu Secka, Charlie Bennett, Charlie Gibson, Sam Bull, Henry Watson, Andrew Briggs, Tyrone Madhani, Alex Laing (Capt.), Lukas Franzen-Jones, George Taggart, Harry Heath.
Will Berry, Jaevon Dyer, Kyle Sim, Dan Hull, Callum Dowdell, Alex Plummer, James Hull.
David Altendorff kept faith with the XI who started in the away friendly against Horsham and who contributed to an excellent 3-1 win. This meant a first appearance for the Lancers at Culver Road for exciting young prospect Charlie Gibson and a return for Sam Bull, who had featured previously, until being called from his loan by Eastbourne Borough.
The two sides last met in August 2019 at the Jockey Farm in the Build Base F. A Vase, Lancing securing a 2-0 win, thanks to goals from James Rhodes and Kane Louis. Since then, Rusthall have climbed back into SCFL Premier division, finishing in sixth place last season.
Lancing began on the front foot and penned The Rustics back onto the defensive. Harry Heath’s pace got him to within a whisker of reaching a through ball into the heart of the box but keeper Tommy Lawrence was quick to spot the danger and scoop the ball away. Charlie Bennett, who has already shown in pre-season that he can attack as well as defend, went on a promising run to the by-line but the ball ran out just of play. With only six minutes gone Lancing had the ball over the line after Harry Heath hit a good cross into the six-yard box, following a pacy run down the left, but he had been flagged offside. Shortly afterwards, Bennett was on the end of a 30-yard free-kick from Andrew Briggs and his close-range effort was kept out by Lawrence. The ball was only half cleared reaching Harry Heath who was able to hit the target but without troubling the keeper.
After soaking up the pressure for 10 minutes, The Rustics made their first serious inroad into the Lancing final third. Mike Miller broke down the right, passing to right back Louis Anderson making an overlapping run. His cross was well held by Alieu Secka. This was followed by a good header from a free-kick but Alieu Secka was able to watch it go well wide of the upright. There was a scare for Lancing on the 13th minute mark when centre forward George Hughes found himself free inside the box with only Alieu Secka to beat but his mis control allowed the ball to run through to the Lancing keeper.
Lancing maintained their attacking momentum with Lukas Franzen-Jones looking to reach the ball inside the box but The Rustics centre back was able to get to the ball in time to head it calmly back to his keeper. The breakthrough for The Lancers came on 15 minutes. George Taggart won possession midway in the opposition half, shrugged off a challenge and hit a low drive to the keeper’s left. It looked as if Lawrence would be able to keep the ball out but in the wet conditions, he failed to hold it, allowing it to cross the line.
Harry Heath continued to look a threat for Lancing on the left and was forging a good partnership with Charlie Gibson. These two combined with Gibson receiving a pass inside the full back from Heath who made strides into the box to receive the ball back before finishing with an effort which he bent just wide of the far post.
Lancing were rewarded for their dominance with a second goal on 24 minutes. It was almost a carbon copy of the first. George Taggart was found in space by Andrew Briggs and he took a couple of strides forward before delivering a shot low to the keeper’s left and, again, allowing the ball to squirm through his hands and into the net.
5 minutes later Lancing came close to increasing their lead. Alex Laing hit a fine cross from wide on the right which reached Lukas Franzen-Jones on the far post. He swung at the ball which hit the inside of the post rebounding to the keeper. Lancing then won a corner on the left which was laid back to George Taggart. He hit a superb cross which dropped dangerously close to the far post. Charlie Bennett was able to get his head to it but unable to direct it towards the goal.
The Rustics had made shown some good attacking play, particularly from Addo Amankwah, wide on the left but the Lancing back four of Bennett, Watson, Bull and Gibson were hard to break down and in one-on-one situations usually came out on top with some sound tackling.
George Hughes, once again, found himself free in the box but his control deserted him once more and the ball ran harmlessly to Alieu Secka. The Rustics looked to have provided themselves with another goal opportunity when Sam Bull was dispossessed at the edge of the box but he was fouled in the process and a free-kick awarded. Tariq Ibrahim tried to catch Alieu Secka unawares from 30 yards but, although Alieu was at full stretch the ball was always going wide.
Lancing continued to take the game to the Rustics and this brought the first caution issued to Jeffrey Njunguna for fouling George Taggart to prevent him breaking forward. Another promising move from Lancing saw Lukas Franzen-Jones executing a clever touch of the ball to Harry Heath but his dash towards goal was ended with a fine tackle from Dan Blann.
Alieu Secka was in action at the start of the second half, making a good save but it did not take long for Lancing to kill off any chance of The Rustics making any sort of comeback. Harry Heath and Charlie Gibson linked up again down the left with Charlie’s cross being cut out for a corner. A superb delivery put the ball close to the goal line, coming off a defender into the goal, with the half barely three minutes old. At this point Sam Bull was forced off, having sustained a knock to his ankle late in the first half. Kyle Sim came on to replace him.
Lancing continued to hunt for more goals but a couple of questionable offside decisions spoiled some dangerous looking breaks. Harry Heath was still full of running with another good cross being cut out for a corner.
With just under 30 minutes to go, Alex Plummer replaced Alex Laing quickly followed by Callum Dowdell coming on for Lukas Franzen-Jones. This allowed Harry Heath to occupy a more central attacking role and this soon paid dividends as he seized his opportunity to aim for the target from a couple of yards outside the box putting the ball way out of the keeper’s reach.
Callum Dowdell was able to show his threat using pace and close control, twisting and turning as he approached the six-yard box finishing with a shot which came close to going in at the far post.
The icing on the cake came on the 88th minute with a deserved goal for the dynamic Andrew Briggs. Harry Heath was again able to use his pace to get in behind the defence. The ball found was teed up for Andrew Briggs who took careful aim to produce an excellent finish.
Alieu Secka had experienced a quiet second half but had he switched off, he would have been caught out with a well struck free-kick arrowing towards the top corner. But Alieu was as alert as ever and was able to make a fine save, pushing the ball behind for a corner. His final act was to hold on to the resulting corner which was well driven in towards the goal.
A very satisfying performance for The Lancers, picking up where they left off at Horsham. The work rate right throughout the team meant that The Rustics were being stopped in their tracks with The Lancers closing down quickly to win the ball back whenever possession was lost. There is also evidence of goal scoring instincts from several players.
A few candidates for Player of the Match, Andrew Briggs, George Taggart but those committee present settled on Harry Heath. Finished the game, as he started, looking full of running, always a threat to the visitor’s back line and a fine goal to cap off an excellent all-round performance.
Bring on Badshot Lea.