Lavant were third time lucky this Saturday as they deservedly beat Rustington Park Seniors after losing to them earlier in the league and in the semi final of the Division V Cup.
Both teams were up and focused for this game and the first half saw the match evenly contested, with Lavant edging it, taking advantage of playing with the wind.
With 5 minutes gone Christian Swain and Matt Hine linked well to forge the opening opportunity for Lavant. Minutes later Dave Kennard’s rifling shot just outside of the area was well saved by the Rustington keeper.
Lavant broke the deadlock on the half hour after some continued pressure in the visitors half. Ross Lines combined well with Matt Price for him to break clear on the wing. Price’s shot ricocheting off the Rustington goal post and cleared to the edge of the post where Hine pounced striking the ball fist time from 25 yards giving the keeper no chance as Lavant took the lead, 1-0.
Lavant could have gone into the break two up as Kennard won the header in midfield, flicking the ball onto Hine who controlled the pass and shot first time leaving the Rustington keeper stranded as the ball flew over his head, but to his relief also agonisingly inches over the bar.
The second half saw Rustington up their game in an attempt to draw level forcing Matt Court, Simon Blackman and Daryl Hall in the Lavant defence to work hard defending their goal, however with 8 minutes gone and Lavant on the back foot they were only able to clear the ball to the edge of their box as the Rustington striker smashed the ball home past Lavant keeper Martin Pullen, 1-1.
The game was now in the balance and both sides had opportunities to retake the lead.
Dave Morris was fouled on the edge of the visitors box. Matt Hine’s subsequent free kick sailed over everyone in the box striking the far post.
With 20 minutes remaining Kennard’s quick pass across the face of the box was met by Hine who drove home the ball from 18 yards, giving him his second and restoring Lavant’s lead, 2-1.
Two minutes later Kennard and Hine combined again to put Lines through but his shot went agonisingly inches wide.
With 10 minutes to go and against the run of play Lavant gave away a free kick on the edge of their box. The free kick was hit low and straight at Pullen but somehow the ball slipped though his hands and legs gifting Rustington an undeserved lifeline, 2-2.
The visitor’s ecstasy was however short lived when the Rustington keeper picked up the ball from a clear back pass a yard outside his goal line. Hine quickly took the resulting free-kick passing to Lines who drilled the ball home from close range restoring Lavant’s lead, 3-2.
Minutes later Rustington’s leading goal scorer Jason Bright’s frustrated from a being skilfully marked out of the whole game by Lavant’s Tom Sheppard finally lost the plot and needlessly vented his anger on the referee over a free kick decision, picking up an unnecessary second bookable offence and ending up being sent off.
With five minutes remaining Matt Hine’s long range shot put the game beyond Rustington’s reach as he completed a fine performance up front by scoring his hat trick and ensuring Lavant took all three points and recorded a well deserved victory against a team who have only previously lost one game all season.
Team: M.Pullen, S.Blackman, M.Court, D.Hall, D.Morris, C.Swain, D.Kennard, T.Sheppard, M.Price, R.Lines, M.Hine. Subs: A.Strange, S.Yaxley, D.Kent.