St Francis put to the sword as East Preston go top

Jared Rance hit a hat-trick in East Preston's five-star display on Saturday. Picture: Stephen Goodger
Jared Rance hit a hat-trick in East Preston's five-star display on Saturday. Picture: Stephen Goodger

East Preston Football Club went top of the Southern Combination League Division 1 standings on Saturday.

EP romped to a 5-0 victory over St Francis Rangers at The Lashmar to make it ten wins on the bounce.

After starting the day in second, East Preston’s triumph - coupled with league leaders Saltdean United being held at home by Mile Oak - ensured EP leapfrogged them and went a point clear at the top with a game in hand.

Following a lacklustre opening half an hour, East Preston boss Bob Paine was pleased as his side sealed yet another league triumph.

He said: “Playing teams in and around the bottom of the league can be a potential banana skin if you don’t apply yourselves properly. I thought we were very sloppy in the opening 30 minutes, which wasn’t like us.

“We had a chat about it at half-time and we were much better in the second half.

“To have won ten games in a row is a great achievement for our young players and to see the table with us on top makes great reading.

“We know it’s down to us now but we finish the season with seven of our eight games away from home, so it is a difficult run.

“What I do know is we’ve come such a long way since the start of the season and our young players have learnt so much. It is such a tight group, they all support each other if they are in the team or not and everyone will be playing their part during the final eight games this season.”

Paine freshened things up ahead of the meeting with St Francis, making three changes from the team that beat Ringmer last time out. Josh Parazo was restored to the strating line-up - in place of Oliver Stevenson - Jarrad Gilbertson made way for Jack Barnes, while Jared Rance replaced Lukas Franzen-Jones.

Other than Tom Lyne seeing a header come back out off the crossbar from Ryan Hallett’s free-kick after 17 minutes, East Preston struggled in the opening 40 minutes.

The home side were given a lift three minutes before the break as Rance slotted past Jordan Markey in Rangers' goal to put them 1-0 ahead at the interval.

EP were much improved in the second period and doubled their lead on the hour. Josh Etherington’s long-ball found Rance, who deftly chipped home.

The win was all but secured 20 minutes from time when Dan Huet was on hand to poke home from all of two yards.

Franzen-Jones’ corner was headed home by Etherington nine minutes from time before a fifth followed soon afterwards.

A perfect afternoon for Rance and his team was capped off as he completed his hat-trick, slotting home Hayden Hunter’s cross.

East Preston make the trip to fourth-placed Little Common for a crucial clash as they look to remain top on Saturday.

EAST PRESTON: Cook, Josh Parazo, Etherington, Lyne, Jacob Parazo; Hallett, Barnes; Bull, Rance, Hunter; Huet. Subs: Franzen-Jones (Bull, 66), Stevenson (Josh Parazo, 74), Gilbertson (Hallett, 78), Smith, Purkis.

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