LANCING Football Club will be left sweating on the results of title rivals AFC Uckfield after their hopes of clinching the County League Division 2 title on Monday were ended by an injury-time Worthing United winner.
A win in their final fixture against United would have guaranteed Lancers the title, but a draw would almost certainly have seen them win, too, as they have such a superior goal difference to rivals Uckfield.
But Lancers’ 2-1 loss means if Uckfield win their final two games of the season against Loxwood and Steyning Town, they will win the title.
The game was initially scrappy on a breezy day and a rock-hard surface with neither side able to string together any meaningful passages of play.
The first chance of the game proved to be the opening goal for United when Barney Boutwood swept home a Joe Shelley flick from close range after 20 minutes.
Boutwood should have had a hat-trick by half-time as Charlie Oatway played him in down the left-hand side of the box but his left-foot shot was weak and easily gathered by Matt Evans.
In the final minute of the half, Boutwood was found by Shelley, this time on the right-hand side of the box, but his shot was straight at Evans, and the follow-up just over the bar.
United were left to rue those missed opportunities in the first minute of the second period when Mitchell Hand pulled down Richard Hudson to concede a penalty.
Steve Phillips saved the initial spot-kick but could only parry the ball back to Hudson, who made no mistake second time around.
Lancing’s dream of the title were shattered in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Dave Herbert raced onto a hopeful ball over the top and was checked by the advancing Evans.
The referee initially waved away the penalty appeals but changed his decision after his assistant waved his flag frantically.
Billy Rayner sent Evans the wrong way and Lancers had no time to find an equaliser.
United’s win meant they finished unbeaten away from home in the league, with 14 wins and three draws.
A despondent Lancing boss Martin Gander said: “We got what we deserved today and a lot of credit must go to Worthing United as they were the better side. There are a lot of disappointed players in our dressing room and if AFC Uckfield win their remaining games then they deserve the title. The league table doesn’t lie.”
United manager Dominic Di Paola said: “I thought we outplayed them today and there was nothing on it for our lads really, but that’s the kind of players we’ve got at the club.
“They’re a great bunch of lads and it’s been a superb season.
“I’m proud of every one of the players. We’ve got a young side and they’re all going to go far in the game.”
LANCING: Evans; Duncan, Sharman, Lucas, Pickford, Groves; Hudson, Hayward, Hibberd; Garnham, Sadough. Subs: MacMillan (Lucas 60), Turner (Hudson 74), Annis (Sadough 86), Elliot, McCarthy.
UNITED: Phillips; Stokes, Hand, S.Di Paola, Young; Meehan, Shelley, Rayner, Oatway; Boutwood, Herbert. Subs: Francis (Boutwood 83), O’Hagan (Stokes 85), Shiel, D.Di Paola, Miller.
Due to an error on the printing press this report did not appear in today’s edition of the Lancing Herald (Thursday, April 28).
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