Veteran goalkeeper Lee Hook’s 93rd minute penalty save ensured Ramsgate ended the day on top of The Isthmian Division One South league table thanks to a 2-1 win over Lancing FC at Southwood.
Jamie Coyle had given The Rams the lead when turning in from close range in the 31st minute before Theo Osinfolarin scored from the penalty spot, after he was brought down in the area.
With Josh Bexon’s partner going into labour hours before kick-off, u8’s manager and goalkeeping coach Hook was asked to dust-off his gloves and don the keepers jersey. Hook, who last played for Ramsgate 25 years ago, was nearly called in to action in the second minute following a give-and-go between Louis Veneti and Farris khallouqi. Veneti fired his powerful left foot effort just wide of the post for a goal kick.
Steve Lovell’s side, who have seen their season plagued with injuries so far were dealt another blow in the 16th minute when wingback Jerald Aboagye limped off and was replaced by Callum Emptage.
By now The Rams were starting to control the game and in the 31st minute Osinfolarin’s teasing ball in to the box could only be parried by goalkeeper Alieu Secka while challenged by TJ Jadama and the rebound fell to Coyle who reacted quickest to prod home.
With returning Kane Rowland giving a new dimension to The Rams attack, the visitors were coming under increased pressure and Secka produced a good save to deny Rowland in the 40th minute.
On the stroke of half time Osinfolarin, who was causing problems all half down the left wing, was brough down in the penalty area and converted the resulting penalty to give a deserved two goal lead at the break.
The Rams continued to control the second half up until 70th minute when tiredness began to show on players returning from the treatment table. A cross from the left in the 76th minute resulted in an own goal by Ben Fitchett which installed a new sense of life into The Lancers.
The final 15 minutes saw the visitors turn up the pressure and a string of fantastic saves by Hook kept the lead intact. Ramsgate appeared to have several chances on the counterattack only for the final pass to keep letting them down.
In the 88th minute Hook pulled off a fantastic one on one save with his foot before another with his chest shortly after with the yellows offering no let off.
Soon after five minutes of injury time had been signalled, a hopeful, floated, cross in the box was flapped at by Hook and the ball fell to a lancing forward who went down under the challenge of debutant Tom Hanfrey.
Most in the ground had accepted two points, and the chance to go top of the table, had been squandered, only for Hook to pull off a fantastic penalty save low to his right and earn himself hero status. The final whilst was welcomed with a roar from the 612 in attendance, who realised how fortunate they were to emerge with all three points despite controlling the match for 70 minutes.
The Rams return to action on Tuesday 20th September when they make the short journey u up the A2 to Faversham and look to extend their lead at the top of the table.