South East Division

Saturday 6.01.2024

Lancing 4 v Ramsgate 2

Attendance 422

Lancing faced what, on paper, would be their toughest test of the season as they played host to a Ramsgate team sitting top of the table with 46 points, 9 clear of Cray Valley on 37 points who have 3 games in hand. Ramsgate had scored 50 goals so far, having conceded only 12, with prolific goal scorer Joe Taylor on 31, and had only suffered one defeat, on the opening day of the season, to Sevenoaks and one draw, against Cray Valley.

With home league gates sometimes reaching over 1,000 as in the match against Sevenoaks (1,042) and Herne Bay (1,625) there was an expectation of a bumper home crowd for Lancing and that proved to be the case as Ramsgate supporters helped to boost the attendance to 422.

Lancing, as previously reported, are enjoying some excellent form and, with a settled team, were not lacking in confidence. David Altendorff made one change from the recent successful line-up by throwing newcomer Ben Pope in at the deep end to give him a start, with Charlie Pitcher dropping to the bench. Ben has plied his trade at clubs at a higher level, starting with Worthing, moving on to Lewes and Hastings ,where he scored 20 goals in the promotion winning team. From there he joined Whitehawk. Also in the squad, but on the bench, was the exciting young defender, Danny Howick, signed from Bognor Regis.

The size of the task facing Lancing was “rammed” home as early as the second minute. Alex Laing was out-jumped when a long ball was delivered down Lancing’s right. The ball ran wide and from there played into the box to Jack S.Paxman who skilfully manoeuvred himself into a scoring position and he did not waste the opportunity, giving Louis Rogers no chance from close range.

In times past, Lancing supporters might have developed the jitters, after seeing their team conceding so soon, but the current crop of players has proven that they have the resilience and belief in their ability to simply knuckle down and set about playing their way back into the game.

A nice passage of play down Lancing’s right led to Knory Scott hitting a cross for Lukas Franzen-Jones, who turned with the ball but it ran away from him. Lost possession in midfield created a shooting chance for the Rams but Louis Rogers was on hand to make a save.

It took Lancing barely 14 minutes to draw level. Ben Pope sped clear down the right and delivered an inch perfect cross to Lukas Franzen-Jones who had found space in the six-yard box. He brought the ball under control and calmly passed it into the opposite corner.

Ben Pope showed fine control laying the ball off to Charlie Bennett who drove clear of the cross bar. S.Paxman and Joe Taylor were proving to be a real handful, Paxman fired point blank at Louis Rogers but the Lancing keeper got two strong hands in the way to control the ball. Paxman then slipped a clever pass in behind for Taylor to run on to but Charlie Gibson and Sam Bull were quick to close him down.

Knory Scott was enjoying a good spell on Lancing’s right, retaining the ball well and using it to good advantage. He played a one two with Ben Pope and completed the move with a shot on target, but without the power to trouble keeper Tom Hadler. S.Paxman continued to pose a threat, making his way across field and passing the ball out wide .A corner ensued and Louis Rogers did well to punch the ball well clear.

The Lancing front men were showing plenty of energy and covering the ground to deny the visitors an easy passage from the back, pressing at every opportunity. Sam Bull was penalised for a foul at the edge of the box. Charlie Bennett rose well to head the free-kick away, but the ball fell to a Rams player whose instant volley cleared the safety net, landing clear of the ground.

Just when Lancing seemed to have weathered some dangerous attacking play by the lively Rams forwards, a careless cross field pass was intercepted by Joe Taylor who spotted Louis Rogers away from his goal and calmly lobbed the ball towards the empty net. Knory Scott made a desperate effort to keep the ball out but it bounced over the line. 36 minutes gone and the league leaders were back in front.

Louis Rogers was kept busy with a couple more saves to make and Jack Meeres had to make a vital tackle to keep the Rams at bay. Charlie Bennett was showing some fine first touches and was bringing Knory Scott into play. Scott was proving very elusive with the Rams defence unable to get close enough to regain possession from him. They worked along the right with Bennett’s run towards goal halted with a foul. Lancing’s front men were growing in confidence and finished the first half on the attack. Franzen-Jones and Pope were showing good control with their backs to the goal but the visitor’s defence held firm not allowing the front men to trouble Hadler.

An early cross from Alex Laing, as the second half got underway, reached Lukas Franzen-Jones who controlled the ball superbly but got underneath his shot. Joe Taylor continued to be a danger and he set up Alfie Paxman who brought another good save from Louis Rogers.

The busy schedule had taken its toll on the Lancing players and, with plenty of options on the bench, it was no surprise to see David Altendorff ring the changes. On came Charlie Pitcher for Lukas Franzen-Jones. with 30 minutes to go. Charlie showed some fine ball control wide on the left and hit a sweeping cross to pick out Knory Scott on the far side. Scott made a bee-line for the goal but his finish swerved just wide of the target.

Lancing were gaining control, thanks to some dogged work in midfield from Briggs, Taggart and Bennett. Jack Meeres got his head to a corner on the far post which came off a Rams defender and went behind for another corner but Lancing could not make their possession count.

The vital breakthrough was made by George Taggart bringing Lancing level on 67 minutes. This sparked a goal blitz as Lancing scored twice more in just over ten minutes. Charlie Bennet finished off a fine attacking run by laying the ball into the path of Ben Pope who struck the ball with power into the net Alex Laing was then replaced by Dan Howick. Pope then repaid Bennett by managing to get his head to the ball and direct it towards Charlie Bennett, with referee Andrew Dunn appearing to allow advantage to be played. To the tumultuous roar from the Lancing faithful, Bennett put some daylight between the two teams with Lancing’s fourth.

Harry Heath then came on for Ben Pope, to use his pace to maintain the pressure on the Rams’ defence and soon tested keeper Hadler with a low drive on the turn, which Hadler pushed wide for a corner.

Joe Taylor had not given up the ghost but his over exuberance got himself into the referee’ s note book for a foul on Louis Rogers. He was still able to get another effort on goal but it flashed wide. With the comfort of a two-goal cushion, Lancing were able to see out the game.

The roar from Yellow and Blue supporters as the whistle blew for time, after 6 added minutes, was as loud as I have ever heard and this result, following on from their recent run of success, certainly sends out a message to the rest of the League. Lancing have now moved into the promotion play-off zone, occupying 5th place, their highest ever, level on points with fourth place Three Bridges and two points behind Sittingbourne in third, but with a game in hand on both.

I cannot praise the work rate and unity our players are showing high enough but do not want to get carried away when there is still a long way to go. However, when the Ramsgate chairman goes on the record to say “That second half was the best I’ve seen from any team so far this season”, I need not say any more, except to congratulate Ben Pope for a fine debut, laying on one goal and scoring our second with a great strike, a performance recognised by Emilia Hamilton, match ball sponsor with her family, and a dedicated fan, who selected Ben as her Player of the Match.

Dave Wilmott

Lancing Starting XI.

Louis Rogers, Alex Young (Capt. )(Dan Howick 77.), Jack Meeres, Sam Bull, Charlie Gibson, Andrew Briggs, George Taggart, Charlie Bennett, Knory Scott, Ben Pope (Harry Heath 80), Lukas Franzen-Jones (Charlie Pitcher 59)

Unused subs: Alex Plummer, Eliot Jenks.