Long Season ends with a frustrating defeat
Faygate 2 Lavant 1
Lavant completed their season fixtures with a long away trip over to the far reaches of West Sussex at Faygate.
With 1st Division safety assured for both teams, the emphasis of having to win this game had gone and it showed from kick off as both teams started rather fragmentally, as the neither side failed to take control of the game.
It was however Faygate that had an early chance to take the lead as desperate defending resulted in the ball rattling off the Lavant post.
With 22 minutes gone, Martin Pullen pulled off a great save to again deny the homeside, with the follow up shot cleared off the goal line by Chris Coe, as Lavant rode their luck.
Lavant suddenly settled down, got organised and communicated better on the park. The results were instant as they worked together as a unit and played some of their best football of the game, forcing Faygate back and to defend their goal for long periods of the reminder of the first half.
Continued pressure and a series of Lavant free-kicks on the edge of the home-sides box however failed to break the deadlock.
With minutes remaining another free-kick from the far right, whipped in by Matt Price only needed the slightest of touches to score, but agonisingly Lavant failed to capitalise.
Unfortunately for the visitors the whistle for half time came too soon, bringing to an end a long period of continued pressure which frustratingly they failed to capitalise on.
The second half saw the homeside start the brighter and they should have taken the lead on 50 minutes, but somehow the player headed over the bar a yard out .
Ten minutes later Lavant again rode their luck clearing the ball off the line. Lavant themselves had great chances also to take the lead, Oli Haggar forced a great save from Faygate keeper Martin Jepson and Jason Houghton’s midfield pass saw Ryan Seacombe though one on one with the keeper, but again Jepson pulled off a fine save to deny the visitors.
With 25 minutes remaining the deadlock was broken as Lavant conceded a very soft goal, as a poorly defended corner saw the ball run across the front of goal giving Tom May the easiest of tap ins, 1-0.
Lavant came close ten minutes later to levelling the score from a Price corner but the flick on was again well saved by the keeper. Faygate reacted immediately punishing Lavant on the counterattack as they further extend their lead as Pullen failed to keep out May’s long range strike, 2-0.
Within four minutes Lavant had got a goal back from their best move of the game as Houghton won the ball in midfield, found Dave Kennard on the right flank and his cross cut back from the goal line missed the incoming Seacombe, but not Price as he drove the ball home in the corner of the goal, 2-1.
The last 10 minute were all Lavant as they tried in vein to level the score, Seacombe a couple of yards out was again denied by the keeper and with the last corner of the game somehow Lavant failed to convert the goal mouth scramble, with Dave Maclean blasting over yards out.
The final whistle blew bringing an end to a long hard season in which Lavant have fought hard and eventually successfully for the right to remain in Division 1.
The standards are higher, margins for error smaller and three teams in Division 1 are relegated each season, so the stakes are higher. The last three games of the season were all lost by a single goal and could quite easily have gone Lavant’s way.
Turning these types of games into victories has to be our aim for next season as this is the difference between finishing tentatively fourth from bottom or finishing comfortably in mid table.
This season has been tough and a real learning curve, but we have proved we can hold our own in this league. If we can learn from this seasons experiences, keep the squad together and strengthen it further (Stuart Loversidge is back for next season) then we have a great chance to firmly establish ourselves in Division 1 during our Centenary Season. From all the management staff.
Thanks everyone for your efforts this season. Enjoy the break and we look forward to seeing you all back pre-season.
Team: M.Pullen, N.Watts, D.Kennard, C.Coe, O.Haggar, L.Weller, J.Houghton, B.Evans, M.Price, R.Seacombe, A.Yaxley. Subs M.Hine, D.Maclean.