Peacehaven swept Lancing aside as they progressed into the second round of the FA Vase with this commanding performance on Saturday, writes Alex Panton.
Carl Dunk’s hat trick was the highlight on a day when everything went right for ‘haven.
Dunk and Wes Tate was a partnership no one planned for at the start of the season, but a striking crisis has seen them moved from midfield to attack in recent weeks, and eight goals in three games would suggest that the experiment is paying off.
With Ashley Rees injured, Charlie Walker recalled by Whitehawk, Craig Bunch still some way from full fitness and Ryan Bradley out of favour and seemingly heading for Ringmer Shaun Saunders didn’t really have many options but to move the duo forward, and he will have been delighted with the return. Tate’s form is hardly a surprise, as he has been one of the most reliable strikers in Sussex for a long time, but Dunk’s form is the real bonus. One of the more naturally talented players in the squad, he has struggled to carve out a niche in the team over the last couple of years, but looks far more convincing in an attacking role.
Lancing won convincingly at Peacehaven a few weeks back, but since then they have lost commanding midfielder Dan McLaughlin to Whitehawk, and forward Richard Hudson to injury. Their absence was keenly felt on Saturday, and should be borne in mind when considering the disparity between the two results.
That will be of no concern to Peacehaven, who badly needed a big result after recent patchy form. The return of Joe Adams in goal was perhaps not a surprise after Josh James recent travails, but the deployment of Adam Kneller in central midfield took everyone by surprise. Peacehaven had been overpowered by Lancing in the previous encounter, and Kneller was there to stop that happening again, as well as offering protection to the defence.
There was little to excite in the opening twenty minutes, with both sides content to spar with each other.
Surprisingly it was an error from the home keeper, the highly rated Joel Harding, that allowed Peacehaven to open the scoring. Having misjudged Matt Hill’s cross, he was then unconvincing in his attempts to stop Tate, allowing Dunk the simplest of tasks to tap in.
Tate added a second ten minutes later before a crunching tackle from Lee Denyer on Kneller provided the first flash point of an increasingly tetchy encounter.
Lancing had offered virtually nothing as an attacking threat, and the match was as good as over as a contest when Dunk met Tate’s cross to add his second strike of the day at the start of the second half.
Unable to make much of an impression on the ‘haven defence Lancing then consoled themselves by kicking Rob O’Toole. This seems to be an increasingly common opposition tactic in recent weeks, perhaps prompted by his newfound long hair and alice band look, but it wasn’t very productive for Lancing.
The immediate result was the concession of a penalty from which Dunk completed his hat trick. Sam O’Reagan was then lucky to escape a second yellow card for chopping down the winger, who took revenge by completing the scoring from Joe Dryer’s cross, completing a thoroughly satisfactory afternoon for Peacehaven.
THE: Adams, Hall, Hill. Jones, O’Toole, Swetman, Keehan (Mayo), Dunk (Millis), Tate (Bunch), Kneller, Dryer.