This Division II battle between relegation threatened Lavant and promotion candidates Petworth was an enthralling encounter.
After a fairly balanced start where Lock shot wide for the visitors from 30yards, Lavant gradually settled into a hard earned control of the game. Their first corner was headed off the line by the visitors.
Daryl Hall was injured for Lavant and replaced by Justin Smith but a second corner caused keeper Wadey to punch out and Jon Strange for Lavant fired the ball into the back of the net on 10 minutes from the edge of the box to give Lavant the lead.
Petworth had a chance 7 minutes later to equalise when their two strikers broke through, but the shot was sliced and went aimlessly wide.
Petworth edged their way forward but a lovely combination of passes left Matt Hine to put Lavant’s Stuart Loversidge through. The striker outpaced the defence and fired Lavant 2-0 up on the half-hour.
The home side were now in the ascendant and the turning point came when against the run of play Petworth were awarded a penalty for Tom Parker shirt pulling.
Martin Pullen, the keeper, got to the shot but Robbie Levett’s power was too great and the ball hit the net from the spot on 33 minutes.
In the second half to Petworth’s credit they showed why they are promotion prospects by battling hard and unceasingly for 45 minutes. Lavant fell foul of their old disease of defending too deep and a free kick on 68 minutes and a long throw on 84 minutes ended in goals by Lock and Levett to give Petworth the lead. This is the hallmark of a promotion side but Lavant still produced some flowing football with Hine going close on 78 minutes.
This was a great game to watch. Petworth ground out a win, which is the hallmark of great promotion contenders. Lavant’s spirit and play was laudable. The coaching staff are working with the players to identify the too deep defending syndrome when it occurs and the collective response to it. It was a privilege to watch this engagement and to await the outcome for both sides at the end of the season.
Team: M.Pullen, J.Strange, T.Parker, S.Blackman, M.Richardson, B.Thomas, M.Ayers, M.Hine, D.Hall, S.Loversidge, R.Pinder. Subs: J.Smith, N.Farrer, W.Gavin.