Lancers will finish second if they win at AFC Uckfield on Saturday as the current top two, Three Bridges and Rye, meet in a title decider, with Bridges needing just a draw to lift the title.
Never has the old cliché “a game of two halves” been more appropriate than on Saturday as Lancing fell 2-0 behind inside 15 minutes through two carbon-copy Joe Briggs goals. But, in the second half, Charlie Walker’s 12-minute hat-trick and Titus Paterson’s spectacular brace saw them storm past a shell-shocked Pagham outfit.
Lancing joint manager Martin Gander was delighted with the turnaround and said: “We let ourselves down in the first half, we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can and were awful, but we were immense in the second half.
“Charlie Walker was different class. He’s best mates with Connor Saunders, so it’s been an emotional week, but what a fitting tribute to him.
“The second half was the best we’ve played all season. We wanted to finish on a high and we’re still in the fight for second.”
After Briggs slotted home in the third and 14th minutes, Lancers were fortunate not to be further behind at the break as keeper Tony Di Bernardo denied Scott Murfin, Jack Bingham and Joe Booker.
But, within 10 minutes of the re-start, Lancing were 3-2 ahead. Walker began the turnaround when keeper James Binfield mis-kicked Dan Sackman’s back-pass and Walker netted from four yards.
Paterson then smashed home from 20 yards from Graham Martin’s corner, before Dan McLoughlin and Jack Hayward linked up to play in Walker, whose thumping shot put Lancers ahead just 30 seconds later.
Walker completed his treble with his 34th goal of the season to make it 4-2 on the hour, before Paterson got the fifth from 30 yards.
LANCING: Di Bernardo; Hunt, Gainsford, Philpott, Sharman; Hayward, McLoughlin; Boswell, Martin, Paterson; Walker. Subs: Pulling (Sharman 68), Garnham (Martin 77), Turner (Walker 84), Taylor.