Lavant bounced back from their recent cup defeat to control the first half of this Division II league match. Lavant worked well as a unit and Stuart Loversidge, Daryl Hall and Dan Johnson all came close to opening the scoring with some well crafted football, all of which somewhat took the home side by surprise, who for much of the first half struggled to get out of their own half.
After 40 minutes continued pressure the break through finally came for Lavant after Matt Hine’s corner was poorly headed out of the Rustington six-yard box allowing Dan Johnson to latch onto the clearance and superbly volley into the top corner of the Rustington net, 0-1.
Mintues later Loversidge almost put Lavant 2-0 up but his shot was yet again excellently saved by the Rustington keeper who continued to keep Rustington in the game and so ensured that Lavant went into the interval with just a one goal lead.
Rustington worked hard from the restart but were held at bay effectively by the visitors apart from a curling shot which bounced off the post into the Lavant keeper Martin Pullen’s arms on 49 minutes. Lavant failed to continue to pressure the home side as they did in the first half and started to defend too deep leaving a too greater gap between midfield and their two hard working strikers Stuart Loversidge and Robbie Pinder.
This allowed Rustington to effectively camp themselves in Lavant’s half for the remainder of the game. Roger Morton fired just over the bar and then the most farcical of goals resulted from a Rustington freekick on the edge of the box. Lavant successfully blocked the kick, but muffed the clearance which bounced back to Pullen who completely missed the ball with his clearance kick, only to watch the ball pass him and trickled onto the post allowing Hancock to stroll in and side foot the ball into an empty net on 69 minutes, 1-1.
Rustington were now well and truly in the driving seat and maintained their pressure for the remainder of the second half, however Lavant held out until the final whistle, with the game ending in a draw. Over the 90 minutes Rustington deserved a draw, but Lavant must learn to defend their leads by maintaining shape and not defending so deep.
On the 31st December Lavant are home to Stedham in the Div II League. Kick-Off 2.00pm.
Team: Martin Pullen, Jon Strange, Martin Ayers, Simon Blackman, Giles Weller, Dan Johnson, Tom Parker, Matt Hine, Daryl Hall, Stuart Loversidge, Robbie Pinder. Subs: Chris Bowles, Mike Martin, Dave Kent. Manager: Dave Parker.