Pitching In Isthmian League

South East Division Saturday 2nd.March 2024

Lancing 1 v Beckenham Town 1

Attendance 360


Beckenham, propping up the table, arrived at Culver Road desperate for points to keep them in touch with the sides immediately above them. Erith and Belvedere were 6 points better off and Phoenix were 7 points clear. But Beckenham have three games in hand. In the Beckenham starting line-up was the extremely tall Alfie Bloomfield who came off the bench to hit the winner for Beckenham in last August’s Culver Road encounter. Not exactly a prolific goal scorer with only three league goals to his credit this season.

Lancing had their own challenge to rediscover form after the loss to Three Bridges. There was buzz going around the ground amongst Lancing supporters who were excited by the news which had broken, of the return, on loan from Portsmouth F.C., of the much respected (“Storm”) Destiny Ojo, who had last appeared in Lancing colours in the 21/22 season.

I am not privy to the negotiations behind the scenes which brought about this real boost to Lancing’s playing squad, but well done to those who secured it, and special thanks to John Rea for getting the necessary paperwork done. Many of us remember, with joy, the goal which earned Destiny the soubriquet “Storm”.

Just prior to kick-off a colourful rainbow could be seen, supposedly a symbol of hope, a good omen, but for which team. The Lancing yellow and blue were clearly visible but so was the red of Beckenham. Only time would tell.

It was clear from the start that Lancing had suffered no lack of confidence or belief as they played the ball out with accuracy from the back, keeping possession until an opening for a forward pass became available. Charlie Pitcher was occupying a wide berth on the left and was brought into play early on with a cross field pass which set him on a run into the box before laying the ball off to Charlie Bennett. The pattern of Beckenham’s defensive play manifested itself immediately as they closed Bennett down quickly frustrating his attempt to get a shot away. This was the first sign of the defensive discipline which Lancing would find difficulty in breaking down.

Beckenham suffered an early blow when, with the game only 13 minutes old, Harry Gamble suffered an injury which was to see him being unable to continue. Segun Ikudenhibu was his replacement.

Both Noel Fisher on the left and Knory Scott on the right were picking the ball up from the back and displaying good ball control, retaining possession allowing them to make good progress towards the final third. A good move ended with the ball reaching Lukas Franzen-Jones but he was challenged as he was about to strike on goal and the chance was lost.

A well-judged pass floated over full back Awoleke reached Charlie Pitcher in the left corner despite the full back having waved his hand, making contact with the ball. Loud cries from the stands for a free-kick cut no ice with referee Joe Wright. No great harm was done as the ball still reached Pitcher.

The first warning that Beckenham could pose a threat on the counter attack came when Lancing lost the ball in midfield, allowing Steven Townsend to break clear before delivering a tempting cross into the six -yard box, which fortunately ran harmlessly clear.

Lancing came close to opening the scoring on 25 minutes when George Taggart delivered a thunderbolt of a shot which rattled the underside of the cross bar before ricocheting down without crossing the goal-line. Another quick Beckenham counterattack had Louis Rogers stretching to fingertip the ball behind for a corner.

Nick Blue in the Beckenham goal found himself juggling the ball near the goal-line but, despite being under pressure from Lukas Franzen-Jones, was able to hook it away. The ball fell to Charlie pitcher who sent it back towards the goal but Blue had got back into position to make a straightforward save.

A cross from deep on the left was heading for the far post but Dan Howick was able to get his body in the way to snuff out the threat.

Charlie Pitcher was a good outlet for Lancing on the left and was linking well with Lukas Franzen-Jones picking out the centre forward but with his back to goal he was being tightly marked and being prevented from turning towards goal. There were a couple of close escapes for Beckenham as Lancing built up a series of inroads into their box as, twice, the ball was cleared from crossing the goal-line and Blue was well placed to keep out Franzen-Jones curler.

Awoleke was showing plenty of drive to get in behind but a strong run ended with a poor cross and a lucky escape for Lancing.

Knory Scott was enjoying some good spells of possession and was a creative force for Lancing, setting up Andrew Briggs for an effort on goal which flew wide.

Despite some fine work from Bennett, Taggart and Briggs, dominating the midfield, Lancing were finding it difficult to create many clear-cut openings as the visitors’ defence were well organised and compact.

Awoleke was quickly out of the blocks as the second half got underway and fizzed an effort just wide of the upright. George Taggart picked the ball up wide on the right breaking forward with Charlie Bennett in support. Bennet was fouled and Taggart took a fall which led to him hobbling off with an ankle injury. The moment the Lancing faithful were eagerly waiting had arrived. On came Destiny Ojo with some 35 minutes left to play. He soon showed his class and strength on the ball and it looked as if he would be the key to unlock a resolute defence as he manoeuvred into a position to make an early strike on goal which was well held by keeper Blue. Ojo was unstoppable, taking on defenders at will but finding a massed defence blocking his route to goal.

Beckenham were awarded a free-kick at the edge of the D. The kick was well struck but Louis Rogers held it comfortably.

A clever lay off with his chest by Dan Howick gave Ojo the opportunity to turn and hit another effort on goal but the ball flew narrowly wide.

Louis Rogers made another fine save as he cut out a dangerous cross from Rhys Wyborn.

Knory Scott continued to probe for openings and laid on a fine pass for Lukas Franzen-Jones to try for goal but Blue was able to make a fine block to keep the ball out. Lancing continued to mount attacks with Charlie Pitcher working his way into the box but having his shot deflected for a corner.

Beckenham were still dangerous on the counter attacks forcing Louis Rogers to get down low to prevent the ball reaching a Beckenham attacker and Jack Meeres made a saving tackle to prevent Townsend from reaching a defence splitting pass. A corner was conceded which Lancing were able to clear but the ball ran to Rhys Wyborn who hammered it back through a ruck of players into the top corner to give Beckenham the lead on 68 minutes.

Lancing brought on a striker for a defender on 75 minutes with Ben Pope replacing Dan Howick and shortly afterwards Awoleke used his pace to break forward and deliver a cross which only needed a tap in at the far post to give Beckenham a 2-0 lead. Knory Scott had anticipated the threat and was able to get back and rescue the situation.

Destiny Ojo began a move leading to a cross to Ben Pope who set up Lukas Franzen-Jones who forced another good save from keeper Blue. Charlie Pitcher had got on the wrong side of referee Wright earning himself a caution on 79 minutes. He was then replaced by Eliot Jenks.

Ojo was again a threat as he ran at the defence, linking with Charlie Bennett who created an opening for Franzen-Jones but he found keeper Blue again able to block his effort.

As desperation crept into Lancing ‘s play some final passes were failing to reach their intended target. Destiny Ojo finished off a run on goal with a well struck shot which rebounded off another player. A Lancing free-kick was headed by Ben Pope to Charlie Bennett but he got underneath the ball putting it over the bar. Lancing continued to pile on the pressure but found too many bodies in the box to get a clear strike on goal.

The breakthrough finally came in the third minute of added time. Sam Bull advanced down the left and delivered a superb cross to the far post. Charlie Bennett rose above everyone to plant a firm header into the net. Lancing were striving for a winner with Destiny Ojo evading tackles on his way to the box and looking for an opening. He was brought down in the D providing Andrew Briggs with a late opportunity to snatch a winner. The dead-ball shot deflected from a defender, veering towards the goal but going behind for a corner.

The game came to an end with Lancing having to settle for a point. It was no surprise to find a side struggling for survival to be determined to hold on to a lead. Beckenham defended well frustrating Lancing as they dominated possession, causing some anxiety in the opposing box without being able to fashion too many clear-cut chances. When they did manage to aim for goal, they found defenders in the way and a goal keeper on top form.

Some fine performances from the Lancing midfield and Knory Scott and Noel Fisher on the flanks.

Match sponsor was Leicestershire based company Pallex, an important sponsor for Lancing. They were represented by Craig Chapman and family who chose Charlie Bennett, scorer of the equalising goal, as their Player of the Match.

Dave Wilmott

Lancing Starting XI:

Louis Rogers, Dan Howick (Ben Pope 75), Jack Meeres, Sam Bull, Noel Fisher, Andrew Briggs, George Taggart ( Destiny Ojo 54), Charlie Bennett, Charlie Pitcher (Eliot Jenks 79), Lukas Franzen-Jones, Knory Scott.

Unused substitutes: Alex Plummer, Nicholas D’Arienzo

Boss Dave Altendorff’s view: ”It was a really frustrating afternoon which in many ways felt like a loss. I know that the lads are feeling really disappointed with this result but it’s important to remain positive and keep a sense of perspective.

“We are going into the final 9 matches of the season with our fate in our own hands as far as the play-offs are concerned. And if we put in that level of performance like we did then 9 times out of 10 we will be going home with the 3 points.

“We probably accumulated more expected goals in this fixture than in any other previous game but unfortunately their goalkeeper was in inspired form and the ball just wouldn’t go in the back of the net for us. We hit the woodwork, had two saved off the line, two obvious penalties waved away and about 6 or 7 point blank chances but it just wasn’t to be.

“But credit the lads for keeping going and getting a deserved equaliser in the final minute, demonstrating great character across the group. We are looking forward to next week against Broadbridge Heath, who have improved enormously so we are expecting a tough match.

“It’s great to have Destiny on board too – he showed some exciting touches in his cameo against Beckenham and we are looking forward to seeing him do what he does best which is terrorise full backs in the coming fixtures.”