Pitching In Isthmian League

South East Division

Lancing 4 v Horndean 1

Attendance 276


Ring out the Old and Ring in the New, so the saying goes but, for Lancing, it was more a case of let’s keep going with the old. Lancing said goodbye to the new year sporting a rich vein of form. Since the end of October they had achieved 6 victories, one draw (Sittingbourne) and one very narrow defeat (Sheppey) and had made steady progress upwards. Horndean were an unknown quantity, having joined the Isthmian League as Champions of the Wessex Premier League. They occupied 15th place in the table but had only played 15 games. David Altendorff, wisely, chose not to change a winning team, which meant that Alex Laing continued to line up at right back.

Lancing suffered a setback as early as the 4th minute. Wearing no.11 but operating on the right wing, Zackary Willett was quick out of the blocks and was met with a solid (but, most of us thought, a fair tackle) but referee Anthony Cross (who went to have a very good afternoon with the whistle) took a different view. Willett drove the ball low and hard beyond the wall. Louis Rogers would only have seen it late but, nevertheless, got down low with his body behind the ball. The force of the shot was sufficient to cause the ball to rebound from him to Tommy Scutt who was quickest to react to put his side in front.

Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring! Lancing responded well. Andrew Briggs sent Knory Scott forward on the right. His shot was deflected for a corner but only cleared to the edge of the box to Alex Laing who responded with a first-time volley, which flew well clear of the bar. Lancing kept up the pressure and on 9 minutes Knory Scott worked himself into a good position at the edge of the box and picked his spot hitting the ball into the bottom corner to cancel out the visitors’ short-lived lead. Horndean had two attacking wide men, Willett on the left and Daniel Sibley on the right (they were later to change sides) and a strong centre forward in Connor Duffin who kept the Lancing back four on their toes. But it was Lancing who looked the most likely to score. Knory Scott was enjoying good spells of possession and using the ball constructively, putting Charlie Bennett in the clear, but his break towards goal was frustrated by the offside flag. Some clever footwork by Knory gave him space to lay the ball into Lukas Franzen-Jones, with his back to the goal but able to execute a superb shot on the turn which flew a foot or so too high. Scott continued to be the provider for Franzen-Jones getting forward on the right finding Lancing’s number 9 in behind with a good pass but the finish was well clear.

There was an odd incident with the linesman waving his flag to give Willett offside with referee Mr.Cross appearing to wave play on, only for the whistle to be blown and it was not clear (to me at least) whether it was for offside or a foul on Louis Rogers.

Lancing’s approach work was to be admired. Lukas Franzen-Jones was doing sterling work with his back to goal, resisting challenge from centre backs. But some of the fine attacking play was being spoiled by some misplaced passes and loss of control around the penalty area. Franzen-Jones was creating scoring opportunities for others. A clever back heel reached Andrew Briggs who flashed a shot across the face of the goal. Charlie Pitcher received a couple of nice layoffs from his striker teammate, but his first effort curled just wide of the upright and, when a clearance from a corner, dropped to him he controlled the ball with his chest, following it up with a volley which flew over. Louis Rogers had been enjoying a quiet afternoon but did have to deal with a fierce drive which he had to palm downwards.

Another clever back heel from Franzen-Jones found Knory Scott who reached the by-line earning a corner when his cross was intercepted. Late in the half Knory Scott and Charlie Pitcher switched wings. Pitcher found some joy on the other side, outpacing his marker and winning a corner when his cross was put behind. Pitcher was, again, in the right place to send the clearance header back to towards the goal, but narrowly wide of the upright.

With the second half a little over 5 minutes old Franzen-Jones was again the focal point of some good build up play, bringing Knory Scott into the action, and his lay off to Andrew Briggs was met with a stunning drive through a massed penalty area into the top corner.

Horndean had struggled to make much of an impact as the second half progressed and made their first substitution immediately after the goal, bringing on Daniel Neild for Chad Field who had received an injury. Horndean wasted a good chance to draw level when Zackary Willett had a free run on goal but to Lancing’s relief he scuffed his shot. Horndean made their second substitution on 61 minutes with Aston Mitchell replacing Jordan Pile.

Charlie Pitcher showed a good turn of speed taking on the Horndean left back but, just as he was about to go clear, a foul brought his run to an end. There was another positional switch at this point with Scott returning to the right, Pitcher taking up a central role and Franzen-Jones moving to the left.

With Lancing having played three energy sapping games in 6 days, it was time to bring on some fresh legs. Alex Plummer replaced George Taggart on 66 minutes, closely followed by Harry Heath on for Charlie Pitcher.

An extremely rare, misplaced pass from Louis Rogers found Connor Duffin 25 yards out. He instantly hammered the ball towards the goal but Rogers redeemed himself with an excellent save palming the ball away to safety.

With only one goal to the good Lancing needed to put the game out of Horndean’s reach and Harry Heath was the man to do just that on 72 minutes, latching on to a pass from Alex Laing, to finish with a low drive. With 15 minutes left to play, Lancing brought on Eliot Jenks for Charlie Bennett and after some clever interplay along the right flank, Jenks was on the end of a cross into the six-yard box to celebrate his first goal for Lancing on the 82nd minute.

Louis Rogers had one more save to make, getting down low to his right and, at the other end, Charlie Gibson created a good opportunity for Knory Scott who shot on the turn only to see it way off target.

In the end it was a comfortable win for Lancing who raised their game in the second half, becoming more clinical in the final third. Pleasing to see that substitutions did not weaken Lancing and that two of them helped to secure three points with their goals. Horndean did attempt to play some decent football and, certainly, their three main attackers could cause some problems with a greater degree of composure when well positioned.

The festive period produced maximum points and the New Year welcomed Lancing by placing them another rung up the ladder into 6th place with 31 points from 17 games. Above them sit Sheppey in 5th place with 33 points from 20 games, Sittingbourne 4th, also on 33 points from 18 games, and Three Bridges 3rd. with 34 points from 18 games.

With top two, Ramsgate and Cray Valley Lancing’s next opponents, they may find themselves marking the spot for a couple of weeks but anything is possible.

Match Ball sponsor, Tony Wheels was asked to select his Player of the Match and he went for Andrew Briggs. Two superb strikes in successive games came at the right time to give Lancing the lead ln both games, but his overall play, covering so much ground and working hard to win the ball back, allied with his consistent good performances made him an excellent choice.


Dave Wilmott


Lancing Starting XI:

Louis Rogers, Alex Laing, Jack Meeres, Sam Bull, Charlie Gibson, Andrew Briggs, George Taggart (Alex Plummer 66), Charlie Bennett (Eliot Jenks 75), Charlie Pitcher (Harry Heath 67), Lukas Franzen-Jones, Knory Scott.

Unused subs: William Berry, Tyrone Madhani