Lavant 3 Stedham 2
With both teams hovering above the relegation zone, this was a “must win” game for each of them; and it showed in what was a hard and competitive match.
Lavant had a dream start, when Darren Cox’s left wing cross was driven home by Brooks in the opening minute.
Lavant were then put under the cosh but defended resolutely with the visitors’ Nick Plater being the main threat. But, Lavant’s counter-attacks were swift and lethal and it was from one such assault that striker Stuart Loversidge nipped in to put the homeside 2-0 in front on 22 minutes.
Four minutes later Plater challenged for the ball in the Lavant area and Steve Lintott fired home from the knock down. Lavant however restored their lead within 50 seconds through Cox to give the Chichester side a 3-1 lead at half-time.
Stedham commenced the second period with long balls backed by a general cavalry charge which proved very effective until the Lavant midfield were withdrawn to provide a protection to their back four.
In the meantime Tom Parker’s under hit back pass on 55 minutes sold Lavant ‘keeper, Ash Rochester, short and Stedham stole the ball and a comeback goal as a result.
But after the resulting reorganisation, the homeside looked more comfortable and should have gone further ahead when first, Loversidge and then Chris Coe missed the target.
Man-of-the-Match, midfielder James Brooks, commented “We had to grind this result out, but in the past, under this pressure, we’d have lost the game. This was a resolute performance and a vital 3 points.”
Lavant: A. Rochester, C.Coe, T.Parker, J.Wright, K.Fogden, S.Cole, J.Brooks, M.Stevens, D.Cowell, S.Loversidge, D.Cox. Subs: J.Walsh, B.Evans, D.Hall
Stedham: Dixon, Sleight, Riding, White, Shotty, Stevens, Thorpe, Jones, Plater, Lintott, Casselton.Subs: Idris, Young, Heighes.
Harting 2 Lavant Reserves 6
After several recent Jekyll and Hyde performances the Lavant’s management team were somewhat anxious before the game wondering which team would turn out for the match against Harting.
They need not have worried, as the team put in a great opening 20 minutes in which they worked hard together as a team, playing some good controlled football, ultimately resulting in them scoring 3 goals.
The first came after Dave Maclean set up Shaun Massey whose 25 yard strike flew into the top of net leaving the Harting keeper total stationary, 0-1. Then Massey returned the favour setting up Maclean to score the second from a tight angle on the by-line, 0-2.
The third came following a Harting corner which was quickly cleared down field, as Maclean pouncing on the loose ball before neatly lobbing the Harting defence to put through the in-form Reece Watling to coolly finish, showing that striker was now back to his best after his long injury lay off, 0-3.
Three nil up and coasting and the visitor should have been totally in control of the game, but to their credit Harting never gave up and a couple of good chances fell to the homeside’s forwards to reduce the deficit, but thankfully with keeper Tom Turner in fine form the score remained unchanged going into the break.
Then the Jekyll and Hyde worries resurfaced at the start of the second half as Lavant’s football deteriorated as it seemed the early goals had gone to their heads and at ever opportunity they were hell bent on trying to score, resulting in wild shots, poor passing, and a total lack of discipline.
Changes were made in an attempt to bring on some fresh legs as Joe Hepworth and Shay Wiggins replaced Martin Ayers and Guy Pinder, but this seemed initially to have the opposite effect as Harting quickly scored twice from set pieces to now leave the match evenly balanced once more as they chased the equaliser.
Lavant then made their final change of the game bringing on Louis Cook-Jones, a player who has come through the Youth team ranks, for Mel Milburn, as once more manager Cliff Massey tinkered with the team. The changes were almost instant as once more Lavant started to play some controlled football and with 20 minutes remaining they stepped up a gear scoring three more goals to kill off the game.
First of all Lavant’s top scorer Ross Lines found the back off the net with a quality low shot which torpedoed to the bottom corner from a left hand side, 2-4, then Watling (playing against the team in which he picked up his injury putting him out of action for 4 months) jinxed inside the penalty box before being clumsily brought down and awarded a penalty.
Up stepped keeper Tom Turner to bury the spot kick, 2- 5. With minutes remaining Joe Hepworth went on a mazy run beating two players on the way into the penalty box, before picking out Watling who then himself passed two players and with all the grace of a seasonal pro, coolly placed the ball in the corner, 2-6.
Man of the match Simon Green said “To get the best out of all the remaining matches we need to perform for 90 minutes and not just in the first and last 20 minutes of the game. Plenty of talking, showing for each other, playing to feet, and battling as a team, will ensure we can avoid the hair dryer treatment at half time from the managers!”
Lavant: T. Turner, S.Green, P.Cairns, M.Ayers, M.Milburn, S.Massey, D.Maclean, G.Pinder, R.Pinder, R.Lines, R.Watling, Subs: J.Hepworth, L.Cook-Jones, S.Wiggins.