To survive Div 2, Lavant had to win this battle at Bognor Regis.
It was a bitter physical struggle but after an unsettled start, the visitors settled into some polished football. This combined with a battling attitude resulted in the first goal. Pinder, Richardson and Hine all fought hard for the ball and 18 yards out on the left of the area the latter turned and hit first time a falling ball right into the far corner of the net on 11 minutes.
Predators only had two shots on target in the first half when the ubiquitous Martin Gill fired straight at Lavant keeper Pullen from 20 yards. Otherwise the Lavant back three, Blackman, Parker and Strange were dominant.
Smith was always dangerous for Lavant on the right and combined with Ayers and Loversidge to produce a chance for Pinder that narrowly missed the post. Pinder again should have increased the lead when his co-striker Loversidge set him up on 19 minutes. He set up a similar chance for advance midfielder Thomas 12 minutes later but again it went begging. Loversidge himself fired a finger-tip save from the Predators’ keeper. The Lavant striker was one on one with the Predators’ keeper when defender Wilson caught his heels in the penalty area but referee John Bailey waived play on.
In the second half Predators came out like demons possessed and forced a corner on 49 minutes. Star player Martin Gill despite excellent pressure from defender Ayers, rose to head the home side onto level terms.
Lavant dug deep and replied with efforts from Thomas and Loversidge. Again the Lavant striker picked up a threaded ball from Strange to outpace the defence on the right and cross the ball into the goal mouth for Richardson to score 3 points on 57 minutes.
Pinder could have buried the game 21 minutes later but the ball stuck under his feet from Loversidge’s cross. Lavant battled on and substitute Farrer made a brilliant and brave diving header to cut out a dangerous Predator cross.
Lavant deserved their win by adding finesse to the great physical battle produced by these two teams. Only time will tell if the win will save the visitors from relegation.
Team: M.Pullen, J.Strange, T.Parker, S.Blackman, J.Smith, B.Thomas, M.Ayers, M.Hine, M.Richardson, S.Loversidge, R.Pinder. Subs: N.Farrer, A.Strange, A. Yaxley.