LANCING Football Club’s incredible winning run came to an end on Easter Monday when local rivals Worthing United struck an injury-time winner.
Lancers, who are guaranteed a top-three finish, had won their previous 11 County League Division 1 games – since a 2-2 draw at United in December – but the defeat has severely dented their title hopes.
Three Bridges, who moved level on points with leaders Rye, now head Lancers by four points and also have a game in hand – and Lancers have just three more league games to play.
United, on the other hand, all but sealed their Division 1 survival with the 2-1 win. They now need just one point from three games to be mathematically sure of safety, although they will stay up if one of Shoreham or Horsham YMCA fail to win their final game.
Mavericks opened the scoring just seven minutes in with a distinct element of fortune. A wind-assisted George Jones corner hit the near post only to rebound back into the net off Tom Rowe’s backside.
The hosts almost equalised just five minutes later as Garnham once again shot from the edge of the box, and although Callum Christie seemed helpless to do anything about the effort, the ball trickled just the wrong side of the post.
Lancing started the second period far brighter and, on 79 minutes, Lancing right-back Adam Hunt made a surging run from the halfway line and crossed for Charlie Walker, who once again failed to take the chance.
Lancers’ best chance of an equaliser was always going to be from a set-piece and so it was with two minutes remaining of normal time that an orbital corner found Lee Garnham’s head at the back post and the scores were level.
That was not the end of it, though, as in the fourth minute of added time, and with the last kick of the game, Alex Thompson was found with a square ball from Sam Schaaf as the Lancers defence looked on. The left-winger slotted confidently under keeper Tony Di Bernardo to take all three points back to Lyons Way.
A delighted United manager Tobi Hutchinson said: “We set ourselves up for them to come at us and I thought we coped pretty well. There have been so many games this season where we’ve got nothing from situations where we’ve deserved something, so it is great to get the rub of the green for a change.”
Lancing boss Martin Gander said: “It was exactly the same as this time last year with their last-minute winner. We never really turned up, to be honest, but I can’t be too disappointed, considering the run we’ve been on and you have to praise United’s effort.”