Lancing’s journey in the Isthmian League began on a sunny day last August and they quickly realised the size of the task facing them, suffering a 4-0 defeat and this was followed by three more losses, conceding 4 goals each time. By strange coincidence their improvement began early in September with a 1-0 victory over Whitstable opponents. No-one could have anticipated then how important the return fixture would become.
The Lancers were well supported at the Belmont Stadium where it became clear soon after k.o that the blustery wind and an unpredictable playing surface would make it difficult for either side to display football of high quality. But play was end to end and Lancing looked to have got off to a perfect early start when Lorenzo Lewis showed some excellent control on Lancing’s left wing before delivering a cross which Matt Daniel turned into the net. Joy was shortlived as the offside flag was raised.
It was the turn of Whitstable to get down the other end of the pitch earning a free kick which had Alieu Secka scrambling across his goal to push the ball behind the upright for a corner. The delivery from the left made full use of the wind as the ball curled in dangerously close to the far corner but, to Lancing’s relief, it hung in the air clearing the cross bar.
Lewis looked full of energy as he ran on to a superb pass from James Rhodes and brought the ball under control before driving the ball goal wards but with too much elevation. Charlie Heatley, the Oysters' number 9, then broke into the Lancing box but Secka was able to get to the ball and hold it despite being under pressure. He appeared to receive a kick when he fell as he kept possession of the ball, which led to a bit of jostling between players.
Whitstable were showing that they could counter attack with pace and took advantage of some leniency by referee Aaron Conn, as Rhodes appeared to be fouled, causing him to concede possession. The end result was a poor finish.
Lewis was again the main threat for Lancing, as Modou Jammeh executed a clever pass down Lancing’s right. Lorenzo was on to the ball and made inroads towards the goal but his strike ended up in the side netting.
The Oysters made their first substitution for the second half with Muhammed Cham coming on for Jack Hanson. They then caused momentary panic in the Lancing defence as Will Berry was just able to stretch and clear the ball as it threatened to cross the line. Little did he know that if the ball had crossed the line a “goal” would have been disallowed for offside.
For the second time, Matt Daniel was quick to get on the end of a cross from the left, this time from Mo Juwara and plant the ball in the net. But, once again, he was denied a goal by the offside flag.
Lancing were gradually getting on top as the second half progressed and were coping with the conditions much better and keeping possession for longer periods. The midfield trio of Goldsmith, Daniels-Yeoman and Modou Jammeh were covering so much ground and competing for every ball.
On 62 minutes Rhodes completed his stint giving way to Bradley Campbell-Francis who was soon up and running showing his pace and trickery wide on Lancing’s right. Lancing’s pressure finally produced dividends on 68 minutes and it was a case of third time lucky for leading goal score Daniel, as he again turned in a cross from the left, but this time the goal stood.
Charlie Heatley again put in a forceful run towards the Lancing goal, appearing to commit a foul against Will Berry in the process. This was not seen by referee Conn and a corner was awarded which Secka did well to hold on to.
Jammeh was having an impact in a creative role and put Lewis in the clear, leading to another fine cross from him for Daniel to get on the end of, but the ball evaded Matt by a matter of inches. A second goal at this stage of the game, 75 minutes in, might have killed off any hopes the Oysters had of getting something out of the game. Their second substitution came immediately and saw the introduction of Gus Barnes for Stephen Okoh.
As it was, Lancing had Secka to thank for a superb safe on 78 minutes. As the game reached the final ten minutes Whitstable ‘s desperation seemed to lead to some indiscipline as yellow cards were handed out to Danny Walder on 81 minutes, George Monger on 84 and Jake Mackenzie on 88.
Lancing made their final two substitutions bringing on Isaiah Corrie for Lewis on 83 minutes and Mo Zabadne for Jammeh on 90. As Lorenzo was leaving the field, he somehow upset the referee and got himself a caution.
Lancing continued to give maximum commitment which saw them come successfully through added time to secure the three points which, with Phoenix Sports going down 3-0 at home to Herne Bay guaranteed Lancing a play-off spot which will give them a fighting chance of keeping their place in the Isthmian League.
The committee, consulting with some of the supporters, tossed around several names as MoM but it was not possible to single out one player from a team in which every player put in 100% effort and determination. So the award goes to the whole team.
Lancing's opponents for the play-off will be Newhaven, who they have met many times before in the SCFL. Newhaven finished third in the SCFL and the winners of the play-off will be in the Isthmian south-east next season - the losers in the SCFL premier.
The match will take place at Culver Road this Saturday, April 30.
Shoreham 1 Roffey 1
SCFL division one
Shoreham played their most important game for some years in front of the largest crowd of the season, 202.
Shoreham needed to get points on the board then see who awaited them in the play-offs. Before kick off the Musselmen gave Roffey a guard of honour for winning the league.
Shoreham started well, going close a few times.
There was what Shoreham felt was a terrible decision from the referee when Jordan Stallibrass broke free from his marker and headed for goal. When he was about to strike the ball goalbound the Roffey keeper appeared to take him down, only for the official to book Stallibrass for diving.
The rest of the first half saw Shoreham have most of the chances but good defending and goalkeeping from Roffey meant it stayed 0-0.
In the second half Roffey picked up the pace and went close to taking the lead.
Eventually, Shoreham’s’ Kevin McMahon was deemed to have brought a Roffey player down in the box and was penalised with a dubious penalty awarded to Roffey. Roffey converted it.
After that Shoreham made changes and started to get back in the game and in the 95th minute, captain Dave Sharman put the ball in the back of the net from an 18-yard box scramble.
MoM Dan Momah.
Shoreham visit Seaford Town in the play-offs on Saturday.