Lancing travelled to The Roman Stadium, home of Sittingbourne, sitting sixth in the table knowing that maximum points were essential to keep alive faint hopes of finishing in the promotion play-off zone. But their fate was in the hands of Three Bridges. Bridges were on 64 points and Lancing on 59. Both had three games left. If Lancing could pick up 3 points from Sittingbourne and Bridges were to lose on Sunday away to Erith and Belvedere, Lancing could still live in hope, but they would need 6 points from their last two games, giving them 68 points and Bridges would have to lose 2 out of their remaining three, giving them a maximum of 67 points. As it turned out Lancing only picked up a point from Sittingbourne, creditable though that was in all the circumstances, and Bridges had a 2-0 win at E and B, giving them 67 points, Lancing out of reach with only 60 points.

Lancing abandoned their usual style of play, playing out through the back four, not trusting the uneven playing surface. The home side, familiar with the surface, did the same. So, both keepers were hitting long balls into the opposition final third. Despite the absence of Dan Howick, George Taggart, Charlie Bennett, Charlie Pitcher and Alex Laing, Lancing looked full of confidence from the start.

And It was a dream start for Lancing. Using the long throw in from Nic D’Arienzo, Lancing were two up after 13 minutes. Destiny was first to capitalise on 10 minutes as D’Arienzo’s throw reached the six-yard box and he was quick to react and get the ball over the line. Four minutes later another long throw reached him. He hit the ball towards the goal but Lukas Franzen-Jones was able to deflect it into the net. In between, Louis Rogers made the first of several important saves, getting down low to rescue a loose ball following a Sittingbourne free-kick.

Lancing continued their promising start with Noel Fisher and Alex Plummer linking on the left ending with Plummer forcing a good save from keeper Bobby Mason. The Brickies thought they had pulled one back on the 22-minute mark following a scramble in the Lancing box but the “goal” was disallowed and a yellow card issued to Harry Hope. The Brickies kept up the pressure forcing Sam Bull to head behind for a corner. The home side were a real threat from high balls into the Lancing box with ex Bishops Stortford centre forward Chris Harris their main target man. Harris showed his power in the air striking the cross bar with a thundering header. The rebound was directed back towards the goal bringing a fingertip save from Louis Rogers pushing the ball onto the bar and gathering it in.

Destiny Ojo earned himself a caution on 26 minutes for kicking the ball away and this was later to prove a damaging error. Lancing were having to work hard to hold on to their lead but Destiny Ojo was causing problems for the home defence and both Ben Pope and Lukas Franzen-Jones were having to drop back at times to provide defensive support and fight a difficult aerial battle to win the long passes from Louis Rogers. Lancing came close to increasing their lead when a fine pass from Andrew Briggs reached Knory Scott, wide on the right. Scott cut in and hit a fierce drive which struck the upright.

Noel Fisher was showing strength in the tackle as he halted a dangerous run from Chris Harris but then conceded a foul in Lancing’s left corner. The free-kick was arrowing towards the top corner but Louis Rogers was able to dive and punch clear at full stretch.

Lukas Franzen-Jones hit a shot on the turn which Mason was able to get a hand to, the ball reaching Destiny Ojo whose effort on goal was deflected for a corner.

Shortly before the end of the first half referee Joshua Langley -Fineing found himself busy with his note pad. Not only did he issue a red card to one of the Brickies management, but this was quickly followed by a second member of the management receiving a red card.

Destiny Ojo continued to get forward at pace and ran on to a fine header from Ben Pope but was off balance as he struck for goal, putting the ball wide. Lancing earned a fortunate corner when a headed back pass caused Mason to mis control the ball.

A controversial decision by Mr.Langley-Fineing was to completely turn the tide against Lancing six minutes into added time. Destiny Ojo burst powerfully into the box but as he was about to pull the trigger from close range, as he was being challenged, he ended up on the ground. Lancing were appealing for a penalty and certainly some of the home supporters seemed to be of the opinion that he had been brought down. However, amazingly, not only did the referee deny Lancing a penalty, he went one step further and considered Destiny to be guilty of simulation and issued a second yellow which meant a dismissal. So, for the second time in recent weeks, Lancing were to feel a deep sense of injustice by the decision of an official and were punished by having to play the entire second half with a man short, missing someone who was looking to be a real threat.

What Lancing were hoping to void was to concede a goal early in the second half but they were caught square with a ball over the top which Harris ran on to lifting the ball over Louis Rogers into the empty net with the half only three minutes old

The Brickies continued to put the ball into the Lancing box for Harris to get on the end of. Lancing were being penned back and forced to concede corners. Lancing defenders rose to the challenge and were able to win headers and clear the ball but had a lucky escape when one clearance fell invitingly for The Brickies but the ball was skied clear of the bar.

Louis Rogers had to be at his alert best to deal with some low balls into the six-yard box but he could only watch as a well struck effort came back off the upright. He displayed his bravery to get down to seize another low ball, being injured in the process. Harris continued to show his power in the air as he leapt above everyone but put his header wide. He then got away with a blatant tugging of Jack Meeres’ shirt, which would normally warrant a caution, and when Jack attempted to free himself, he found himself being the one penalised.

He did earn himself a caution on 70 minutes, tripping Noel Fisher as he was about to break forward with the ball. Andrew Briggs and Alex Plummer had worked tirelessly in the midfield. Alex had not had many 90 minutes so one of Lancing’s young substitutes was brought on to provide fresh legs. This was to be a senior debut for Callum Erskine to help Lancing see out the remaining 12 minutes of normal time. Both Pope and Franzen -Jones were being forced back into Lancing’s half to lend support to the midfield and this left The Brickies defence free to bring the ball out. Erskine showed a lot of energy trying to close the defenders down. Charlie Gibson replaced Noel Fisher on 85 minutes.

Chris Harris could consider himself fortunate to still be on the field. Already on a yellow, he was guilty of catching Andrew Briggs with his elbow laying him low for a few minutes. Lancing were awarded a free-kick but Harrison escaped any punishment and then, to rub salt in the wound, he got on the end of a cross into the Lancing box hammering home an equaliser a minute into added time.

Leon Fisher came on for Ben Pope to see out the remaining minutes.

Sittingbourne are safely in the play-off zone but Lancing’s play off ambition was dashed and, once again, Lancing can feel aggrieved that a referee’s interpretation of crucial incidents has cost them dearly. Even if Destiny Ojo had not been brought down by a foul, it is barely credible that he would have tried to earn a penalty by a dive when he was so close to scoring. Why was the referee so lenient towards Chris Harris?

It was a backs to the wall performance by Lancing for the second half with strikers Lukas Franzen-Jones and Ben Pope dropping back to lend support. They were so close to achieving what would have been an outstanding three points.

Lancing made light of the absence of some key members of the team and had an extremely youthful bench. It was pleasing to see Callum Erskine make his debut and to see his, not exactly large physical presence, chasing down some giant defenders.

A larger group of supporters and committee were able to cast their votes for Player of the Match. There were a number of outstanding performances and this made it difficult to choose but it narrowed down to one vote separating Louis Rogers and Ben Pope and Ben was chosen after the successful way he challenged for the ball in the air and for the effort he put in to trying to prevent The Brickies from breaking from the back.

Lancing will now be all out to finish the season on a high as they look to pick up maximum points from their last two games to secure a possible 6th place which would rank as a magnificent achievement.


Dave Wilmott


Lancing Starting XI:


Louis Rogers, Knory Scott, Jack Meeres, Nic D’Arienzo, Sam Bull, Noel Fisher (Charlie Gibson 85), Alex Plummer(Callum Erskine 78),Andrew Briggs, Destiny Ojo, Ben Pope(Leon Fisher 90+3), Lukas Franzen-Jones.


Unused subs: Shay Matthews, Alfie Knight.