LANCING Football Club jumped to the top of County League Division 2 on Tuesday evening after a 4-0 win at East Preston.
Unbeaten Lancers now lead second-placed AFC Uckfield by one point and also have two games in hand.
EP certainly played their part in the game, but gifted the visitors their goals, which was a shame because the home side’s work-rate could not be faulted.
Lancing’s first real chance came just quarter-of-an-hour in with a goalmouth scramble and danger was only averted when Josh Sutcliffe hoofed the ball clear from under his own bar.
Both sides tried to play football on a heavy surface and this is what got them into trouble. EP’s Joe Charman picked off a loose ball from Jamie Groves on the halfway line and ran at the Lancers’ backline, until he was brought down by Ben Lucas and the linesman awarded an arguably harsh penalty. Fortunately for Lucas, keeper Matt Evans saved his blushes by guessing correctly from Danny Hand’s spot kick, then he saved the rebound from Charman himself.
It was a wake-up call for Lancing, who increased the pressure on their hosts from that point on. A hopeful lump upfield from Lee Garnham found skipper Richard Hudson with only the keeper to beat, but the former Bognor man’s chip could only rebound off the post into Charlie Gammons’ grateful arms.
On the half-hour, Lancing finally made their dominance pay when Darren Annis ran through a static backline onto the end of Hudson’s perfectly weighted pass, and the frontman slotted home with consumate ease.
The second 13 minutes later was a carbon copy of the first but this time Groves was the provider and Annis did the business once more.
The second half saw EP have far more of the ball and Lancing take their foot off the gas, but other than an Evans fumble that he rectified himself, the home side never really threatened.
The introduction of Aaron MacMillan seemed to liven Lancers up and his inch-perfect ball to Garnham with two minutes remaining made it three, and in the final minute the roles were reversed when Garnham was given too much time to pick MacMillan out with a cross that the striker could barely miss from a yard.
Lancers boss Martin Gander said: “It’s great to be top, but we’ve only played 15 games in the league and we haven’t won anything yet.”
LANCING: Evans; Hemsley, Pickford, Lucas, Hibberd; McLoughlin, Hudson, Garnham, Turner, Groves; Annis. Subs: MacMillan (Annis 73), Joseph (Hibberd 78), Elliot, Sadough, Hayward.