Team selection saw Liam Hendy back in the starting line-up, Mark Goldson with the central striker’s role and the return, after starting the season in the colours of Three Bridges, of Lancing’s much-admired Mo Juwara occupying his favoured left back position, which meant a switch to right back for Mo Zabadne.
Some interesting links between Lancing and Whitehawk are that Whitehawk claim that Lancing is the club with the longest history of playing against them, albeit as Whitehawk and Manor Old Boys and Lancing Athletic. In addition, Kane Louis joined Whitehawk in 2009 on loan from the Albion and scored twice in three games. But Kane’s father, Tommy, now sadly passed away, made nearly 400 appearances for them. Finally, Mo Zabadne was a member of their 1919/20 squad.
Whitehawk were in fine form with a 3-1 away win in the FA Cup second qualifying round against Slough Town to their credit the previous Saturday. There was a good atmosphere with the drums adding to background noise at the Terra Purra ground and a good attendance, numbering 276. The crowd were treated to some good quality football with plenty of end-to-end play and goal mouth activity and there was very little to incur the displeasure of referee Alex Bradley, who was able to complete the game without having to resort to any yellow cards. Some strong words on a few occasions but nothing more.
Whitehawk wasted a good opportunity with the game less than 10 minutes old. Mo Zabadne, who went on to have an outstanding game against his old club, made his only error in an otherwise faultless display, being closed down and losing possession, allowing Javan Splatt to break through on goal. Fortunately for the visitors, the shot had plenty of power but cleared the cross bar by several feet.
Mo Juwara was quickly back into making his trade mark powerful surges forward with the ball and renewing acquaintance with Matt Daniel on the left. Their inter passing was halted by a foul resulting in a Lancing free kick taken by Tyrese Mthunzi . Well, struck but straight into the arms of keeper Stroomberg.
Lancing then survived an attempted header from Conrad Honore back to keeper Alieu, which fell short but Splatt , intercepting the ball, ran it out of play.
On 23 minutes, Whitehawk took the lead. A cross came in from the right which James Fraser met with a well-directed header into the top corner. Lancing almost equalised 2 minutes later. Mohamed Zabadne finished off a strong move down the right with a fine cross destined for Matt Daniel close to the goal but prompt reaction by Luke Emberson cut out the danger.
Another free kick opportunity for Tyrese failed to test Stroomberg as the ball cleared the bar. At the other end an acrobatic volley from Fraser, as he was falling backwards, was deflected over.
It did not take long for Lancing to draw level. A move initiated with a great pass from Matt Daniel putting Mo Juwara in behind Emberson , and he floated a perfect cross for Finn Daniels-Yeoman coming in on the far post to guide a header out of reach of the keeper with 30 minutes gone.
Lancing finished the first half strongly with Bradley getting forward on the right, firstly running on to a superb pass from Ansu Janneh, cutting through the home defence, but he was closed down as he attempted to get a shot away. Bradley used his pace to good effect getting to the bye nine but his cross was diverted for a corner. Ansu then forced Stroomberg to race from his line to tackle him as he threatened the goal. The ball was only half cleared, falling to Mark Goldson but his attempt to clear the covering defenders was unsuccessful.
The half ended with the worrying sight of Mo Juwara receiving lengthy treatment after a heavy tackle.
Lancing continued where they left off soon after the second half was underway with a smart piece of play involving Brad and Mohammed, which culminated in a lofted shot from Finn which Stroomberg did well to tip over the bar. Mark Goldson forced the keeper into action whose attempted clearance almost dropped behind him. Ansu , who had worked tirelessly in midfield, was replaced by Destiny Ojo.
Whitehawk enjoyed a good spell on 45 minutes and it needed two superb saves from Alieu to prevent them restoring their lead. Alieu was at full stretch to prevent certain goals. Whitehawk kept up the pressure and it needed another fine save from Alieu getting down low to keep the ball out.
Will Berry came on to add his defensive qualities with Mark Goldson going off. Lancing were winning good possession with Finn, Tyrese and Will covering a lot of ground in midfield but Lancing were wasteful with the final ball.
Lancing conceded another free kick at the edge of the box and, once again, had Alieu to thank for an outstretched save down low to his right. The ball by passed the defensive wall and Alieu could only have seen it at the last minute.
As the game reached the last quarter, Lancing got themselves in front. Will Berry picked out Mo Juwara with a good pass to reach him out wide on the left. .Mo set off at pace to the bye line and hit a fierce cross into six-yard box. Matt Daniel’s goal poacher’s instinct got him into the perfect position to ram the ball home from close range.
Lancing had to withstand a determined bid by Whitehawk to get back into the game and it needed the defence to stand firm. Mo Zabadne typified the will to win attitude, which would see Lancing through, with a number of solid tackles and speedy interceptions. Liam Hendy and Conrad Honore kept their heads and were able to successfully repel balls hit into the penalty area.
Lewis Lorenzo had come on for Bradley and almost increased Lancing’s lead in the dying minutes bringing a good save from Stroomberg with his outstretched leg.
Relief at the final whistle, as Lancing picked up their first away points and moved further away from the bottom, into 15th place. This was an excellent all round team performance. The back four were solid and well organised by Liam. Mo Juwara gave us that burst of speed and power on the left and there was hard work and togetherness throughout. The midfield trio were tireless and the front three were willing runners.
Several candidates were thrown into the post-match committee discussion over a beer, graciously bought for us by the Whitehawk official, whose name I did not catch but who was a real hospitable gentleman. An ex -boxer of some standing, now 85 years of age. He was accompanied in the hospitality suite by another gentleman of similar age, who happened to be a former resident from my home town of Newport in South Wales. We were able to swap reminisces about Newport County and he showed me a programme from a game in September 1964 between Newport and Brighton. I was still living in Newport then, having just passed my A levels, and may have been at the game, although I do not remember it.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the point. We settled on the strongest three candidates. Alieu, for a string of superb saves, Mo Juwara, for his power on the left and for creating both goals and Mohammed Zabadne. Any one of these three were worthy MoMs.However we opted for Mohamed Zabadne, who made some decisive tackles and timely interventions. He read the movement of opponents and the ball really well and managed to support Bradley superbly.
Lancing Starting XI: Alieu Secka, Mohammed Zabadne, Liam Hendy, Mahamadou Juwara, Finn Daniels-Yeoman (Capt.), Conrad Honore, Bradley Campbell-Francis, Tyrese Mthunzi, Mark Goldson, Ansu Janneh, Matt Daniel. Substitutes: Lewis Lorenzo, Darius Goldsmth, Destiny Ojo, Will Berry, Mitch Bromage.