A bright Spring day drew me down to Lancing FC on the South Coast, to see Lancing and Chatham Town of the Isthmian South East Division play a game of much significance, for both teams.
Lancing FC moved to Culver Road in 1952 and a 350 seater stand was erected soon afterwards. The ground benefits from a 3g pitch of a decent standard and floodlighting. There is a clubhouse with a bar and a decent collection of memorabilia. Attendances have varied this season at Culver Road, with the best being the 464 who came to the derby game against Littlehampton.
Chatham Town came in to the match level on points with the table leader, Ramsgate, with a big game scheduled between the two on Easter Monday at the Bauvill. Lancing themselves sit on the edge of the relegation play off places, needing a win today to ensure their own safety.
Kevin Hake has led Chatham Town to a truly impressive position this season. Goals have flowed with Jack Evans (20), Dan Bradshaw (16) and Emmanuel Oloyede (13) all hitting a rich vein of form.
Lancing, led by manager, have found goals harder to come by, with Reece Hallard (7) Tyrone Madhani (6) and Louis Veneti (6) top scoring. They do however have a secret weapon in the form of on loan striker Tommy Blennerhasset, who has joined from MK Dons, scoring once in his first two games.
The game opened well with Chatham Town taking the offensive while Lancing battled well and created their own chances in the break. For Lancing, Modou Lamin Jammeh was a constant threat, while the height and strength of Chatham Town’s Emmanuel Oloyede created difficulties for the home defence.
At half time however, neither side had made the crucial break through and the large and loud away support in the crowd of 291, were feeling anxious, knowing how crucial to their side’s title hopes it was to win three points today.
The second half started in much the same way, although the introduction of Paris Lock, replacing Seidou Sanogo, did inject some pace down the right, which started to put pressure on the right footed left back for Lancing, William Berry.
In the 53rd minute, Chatham Town won a corner and from this a foul was committed, when Emmanuel Oloyede was pulled to the ground in the penalty area. The referee pointed to the spot.
Jack Evans stepped up after some delay, to convert the penalty in the 55th minute, sending the Chatham supporters wild.
Lancing threw everything into securing an equaliser. Tommy Blennerhasset was a constant challenge, but in the end the defending of Butler and Beckwith at the back for Chatham kept all challenges at bay.
As the final whistle blew, the players, staff and fans of Chatham learned that Ramsgate and Beckenham Town had only been able to draw, sending the Chats top of the league. Lancing had performed beyond expectation today and will surely seal their Isthmian League South East status in the coming week.