Pitching In Isthmian League
SOUTH EAST DIVISION
HERNE BAY (The Bay) 3 LANCING. 1
Lancing travelled to the MBS Stadium to face a Herne Bay team lying 4th in the table with 11 points, 5 above Lancing on 6 points but having played two games more, so the gap was not something that was of major concern. The sides had only met twice before, in season 2021/2,2 with the Bay coming out on top on both occasions – 2-1 at home and 6-1 away. The Bay won promotion at the end of that season, through the playoffs but could not retain their place in the higher division and were relegated.
David Altendorff changed the Lancing formation, fielding a strong looking midfield which included Charlie Bennett and Sam Bull alongside Andrew Briggs and George Taggart, who seemed to have a free role to get forward in support of front man Lukas Franzen-Jones and Alex Laing occupying a position wide on the left. Charlie Gibson was back in at left back with Jacob Thompson at right back.
Lancing were hit by two goals in the space of two minutes. Alex Laing was dispossessed by Mike Salako who motored into the space this created and finished with a shot which deceived Alieu Secka, swerving from left to right, possibly caused by a slight deflection. Two minutes later, on 18 minutes, Lancing lost control playing the ball out and Gil Carvalho managed to evade Alieu Secka and turn the ball in from a tight angle from the right of the upright.
Both Lancing full backs were making good use of space on the flanks to get forward. Charlie Gibson was delivering some accurate passes to switch play from the left to Jacob Thompson and George Taggart on the right. Jacob Thompson was using his pace to break into the final third with some success. A pass from Gibson to Taggart gave the midfielder Lancing’s first shooting opportunity but the finish was well clear of the cross bar. A good delivery into the box from Alex Laing looked promising but keeper Harry Brooks anticipated the danger and was quickly off his line to gather the ball. Charlie Gibson and Alex Laing were combining well along Lancing’s left flank. One particularly good piece of build-up play from these two finished with Alex picking out run into the box from Charlie Bennett, who tried to turn and bring the ball under control but it ran away from him.
Lancing were struggling to play the ball through the midfield with The Bay opponents closing down at speed to force Lancing into making errors, conceding possession and misdirecting some of their passes. But Lancing were having better fortune on the flanks, particularly with Jacob Thompson. As the first half neared its conclusion, Thompson got forward and laid on a pass for George Taggart but he was halted by a foul just outside. Alex Laing’s free kick was disappointing as he spooned it several feet over the cross bar.
But the half ended on a positive note for Lancing. George Taggart floated a ball over the top of the Bay back line. Charlie Bennett managed to make contact with the ball and turn it towards goal, but the ball came off keeper Brooks, falling invitingly for Lukas Franzen-Jones to apply the finishing touch.
This seemed to provide Lancing with the stimulus to get back on level terms and an early chance to do so fell to Lukas Franzen-Jones. Another fine pass from Charlie Gibson picked out Alex Laing at the edge of the opposing penalty area and a delicate use of the head put Franzen-Jones in behind but he was unable to get sufficient power into his shot.
The Lancing bubble was burst 12 minutes into the second half, which put a dent in their hopes of staging a second half recovery. A break down the right ended with a cross to the far post, to which Tom Hanfrey had advanced unnoticed and was perfectly positioned to side foot the ball home.
Lancing came close to closing the gap shortly afterwards after a free kick. Charlie Gibson dummied the ball, leaving it to Alex Laing, who curled the ball over the wall only to see it strike the cross bar.
Lancing made their first change on 68 minutes with James Hull coming on to add another striker, with Jacob Thompson coming off. A second substitution, on 74 minutes, brought on Alex Plummer for Andrew Briggs. Lancing were struggling to get forward into decent shooting positions and were being pressurised into giving the ball away. This provided The Bay with a chance to increase their lead with a quick strike on goal but Alieu Secka was able to get his hands to the ball.
Lancing’s final substitution saw Shay Matthews replace Sam Bull. A free kick taken by Charlie Gibson found the head of Jack Meeres but his header fell into the arms of keeper Brooks.
Final actions in the game were an effort by Lukas Franzen-Jones which flew wide and a good save from Alieu Secka, after Lancing failed to halt a break by the Bay to the bye line.
No complaints about the result. Lancing were guilty of giving the ball away too often, by being quickly closed down, and of failing to ensure accuracy in their passing. Some positives, in the first half mainly, with some good attacking support shown from full backs Charlie Gibson and Jacob Thompson. Charlie in particular hit some excellent passes from the left flank to reach Jacob Thompson in space on the right. Jacob showed an ability to get forward into the final third. If Lancing had been able to keep the score at 2-1 for longer, this might have unsettled the Bay and allowed Lancing to be more of a threat in the final third.
A clear choice for Player of the Match went to George Taggart. He looked to be Lancing’s most creative midfielder on the day and kept possession well.
Lancing Starting XI:
Alieu Secka, Jacob Thompson, Jack Meeres, Dan Hull, Charlie Gibson, Sam Bull, Charlie Bennett, Andrew Briggs, George Taggart, Alex Laing (Capt.), Lukas Franzen-Jones.
Substitutes: Kyle Sim, Shay Matthews, James Hull, Alex Plummer, Rory Marashi.