Pitching In Isthmian League
South East Division
Littlehampton (The Golds) 0 v Lancing 1
Lancing left it late to secure three points from their local rivals, Littlehampton at The Sportsfield in front of a good crowd, which included a strong away support. Despite being some way behind Lancing in the table, in 15th spot, The Golds made life difficult for the 3rd place visitors and looked to have earned a point until conceding in the 90th minute.
Alex Plummer was in the Lancing starting eleven, covering for the injured Charlie Bennett, Dan Howick, making his first start in place of the unavailable Charlie Gibson and Noel Fisher kept his place after an impressive performance against Cray Valley, covering for Charlie Pitcher/Knory Scott who are also injured.
Lancing found themselves having to adjust their style of play to suit the conditions, a grass pitch with an uneven and greasy surface in places. Both sides were having difficulty maintaining their footing and this was contributing to some misplaced passes.
The game was 10 minutes old when George Taggart created Lancing’s first scoring opportunity with a cross into the six-yard box where it was met by the head of Lukas Franzen-Jones. The ball was directed towards the net until cleared from the goal -line. Lancing were enjoying some good possession and getting into the final third but the decisive pass was absent, causing attacking play to break down.
Noel Fisher showed confidence on the ball and a willingness to run at the Golds defence. Weaving his way through a couple of defenders and heading towards the goal, he was halted at the expense of a corner. It took Lancing almost 20 minutes to get their first real shot at goal with Lukas Franzen-Jones hitting a low drive which was comfortably held by keeper James Binfield. George Taggart was again the provider for Noel Fisher putting him in space in the box but Fisher sliced his effort wide.
The Golds were finding the Lancing back four difficult to break down with Dan Howick in dominant form and Andrew Briggs and Alex Plummer were on hand to patrol the centre and pick up any loose balls coming from the defence.
The Golds wide men, Nodirbek on the right and Powell-Downey on the left were working hard to get in behind but found themselves being tightly marked and unable to make any real progress. Louis Rogers was having a quiet time but did have to respond to a corner dropping towards his cross bar with a firm punched clearance. James Binfield had to be alert at the other end to leave his goal-line to beat Lukas Franzen-Jones to a lofted pass over the top of The Golds back line. Powell-Downey was put clear down his left, picking out Nodirbek but he drove his effort wide
Neither side had come close to breaking the deadlock in the first 45 minutes. Ex-Lancer Tom Butler and Bradley Peters were matching their counterparts in the Lancing defence and keeping a tight grip on Ben Pope and Lukas Franzen-Jones. Franzen-Jones was able to aim for goal, getting on the end of across from Sam Bull, but his shot was blocked. Nodirbek put Powell-Downey in on goal bringing a good save from Louis Rogers.
Lancing made their first substitution on 59 minutes with Eliot Jenks replacing Alex Plummer. At the same time The Golds lost the service of their centre back Bradley Peters, due to injury, with Jordan Clark replacing him. A delicate touch from Jenks sent Sam Bull through on the left, who’s cross came close to dropping onto the far cross bar.
Nodirbek and Powell-Downey were combining well with Nodirbek capitalising on pass from Powell-Downey only to see his shot deflected for a corner. Lancing brought on Harry Heath for George Taggart on 73 minutes. Golds right back Ryan Yoro-Thomas was getting forward in support of Nodirbek and reached the six-yard box before producing a close range shot which Jack Meeres was able to block for a corner. The corner was cleared long with Harry Heath closing down The Golds defender deep in the opposition half, forcing him to concede a throw in, which Heath took quickly putting Ben Pope in on goal. Pope was brought down with Lancing looking for a penalty but nothing was given.
Rather surprisingly the lively Powell-Downey was taken off, with another ex-Lancer, the pacy Bradley Campbell -Francis coming on. Nodirbek continued to be a threat down Lancing’s left and broke forward with Sam Bull and Jack Meeres in hot pursuit. There was a sigh of relief when he fired wide of the far upright. The Golds were sensing that there might be a goal in the offing. Campbell-Francis broke forward and drove the ball across the face of the goal and out of play, followed by Yoro-Thomas launching another attack which Lancing were able to clear. Four minutes of added time were signalled, and this prompted Lancing to make a last-ditch effort to find a winner. A corner was won on the right which The Golds failed to clear. Ben Pope slid in as the ball ran free and directed the ball towards Lukas Franzen-Jones. Lancing’s leading scorer reacted in a flash, turning and hitting the ball into the net to the delight of his teammates and the Lancing supporters. The goal can be seen here courtesy of supporter Andy Weller Lancing saw out the final minutes by bringing on Will Berry for Alex Laing.
Littlehampton might feel a sense of injustice at missing out on a share of the points. Both sets of defenders could be satisfied with their game. There were very few attempts on goal sufficient to trouble the keepers but Lancing are a team that remain strong to the final whistle and this was proved again.
Lancing continued to occupy third spot and can be content at having negotiating what turned out to be a difficult hurdle. With injured players likely to be returning soon, the team will benefit from being back at full strength.
Considerable support for Dan Howick who defended superbly, having hardly put a foot wrong so he was named as Player of the Match.
Lancing Starting XI:
Louis Rogers, Alex Laing (Capt ) ,(Will Berry 90.), Jack Meeres, Dan Howick, Sam Bull, Andrew Briggs, George Taggart (Harry Heath 73 ) Alex Plummer (Eliot Jenks 59 ), Noel Fisher, Ben Pope, Lukas Franzen-Jones.
Unused subs: Rory Marashi, Leon Fisher