East Preston Football Club moved up to second in Southern Combination League Division 1 after captain Tom Lyne scored a late winner at home to AFC Varndeanians on Saturday.
Lyne struck 13 minutes from time to give EP a eighth successive victory as they moved to within a point of leaders Saltdean, with a game in hand.
Varndeanians set up with a game plan to defend deep and frustrate East Preston, so EP manager Bob Paine was delighted to secure all three points.
He said: “Varndeanians clearly came to sit deep and frustrate us, which to a certain extent they did.
“It asked some questions of my young side which in the main they answered and we got the three points which we thoroughly deserved. Varndeanians are not a bad side and worked very hard, it was a good match on a difficult surface.
“We’ve now won eight games in a row which is a fantastic achievement and puts us in a great position with ten league games to go.
“Every game until the end of the season is going to be a challenge as teams will ask different questions of us. The squad is looking fit and strong and there is competition in every area of the team.”
Paine made one change to the EP team which won at Steyning the previous week as Conor Bull came in for Jared Rance.
East Preston had a lot of the ball but found it difficult to break down a resolute Varndeanians defence. The home side did have a number of early chances, the best of which saw Hayden Hunter fire Bull’s cross over from six yards.
East Preston were made to pay as Varndeanians took the lead after 32 minutes. Some sloppy defending allowed the away side to gain possession 25 yards out and an excellent cross found James Novis free in the six yard box and he steered a header past Chris Cook in the EP goal.
East Preston were on level terms just five minutes later when, following more excellent work by Bull down the right, his squared pass found Hunter, whose shot was too hot for the Varndeanians keeper Tom McAlpine to handle and Dan Huet was on hand to score his 18th goal of the season.
EP continued to enjoy a lot of possession in the second period but found it hard to break down the solid Varndeanians defence.
The winning goal came after 77 minutes when Bull’s corner was headed back across goal by Ollie Stevenson and Lyne reacted quickest to smash home a right foot shot.
In the best of EP’s other chances in the second half, Huet was denied at the last moment, Hunter had an effort that was just off target and Lukas Franzen-Jones sent a free kick over.
EP host bottom club Ringmer on Saturday.
EAST PRESTON: Cook; Stevenson, Jacob Parazo, Hallett, Lyne, Etherington, Bull, Gilbertson, Huet, Franzen-Jones, Hunter. Subs: Barnes (Franzen-Jones 68), Purkis, Smith, Josh Parazo, Taylor
EP have won the SCFL Division 1 respect award for December/January.
Paine said: “It’s a fantastic achievement and one the players can be very proud of. It shows you can do well and still play the game in the right way.”
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