Despite last week’s shock defeat at bottom of the table Godalming Town, Darren is very upbeat about the game on Saturday with almost a full squad to choose from.
“The past couple of weeks have been a mixture of highs and lows. I thought Hythe was one of our best performances of the season. We were very well organised, and although we didn’t create too many chances, we looked pleasingly solid as a team, and I never felt that we were in any great danger of losing that match.
When we played Godalming last week, we should have gone into that game full of confidence, having two great results beforehand. Sadly, it turned out to be a hugely frustrating game. They hit us on the break, and scored a goal out of nothing. The overall performance and our failure to break them down was disappointing, but I want to put that behind us. So far this season, I’m very proud of the boys and we’re now at the business end of the season. I’ll be looking at our players to see how we respond from Saturday’s setback.
It’s important, even at this stage of the season, that we keep building to try and keep improving. That means we’ll continue to work hard behind the scenes with all our players, and that includes the young ones coming through.
I was very proud of Steve Eke’s Development Squad on Monday night. We had several of the first teamers involved to get some minutes under their belts, and they showed a really good attitude, and it was great to see Dean Bown back amongst the goals.
Over the next eight games, I’m looking for the players to play their hearts out, and my message to yourselves would be to keep encouraging the boys and supporting them as you have been, as it’s amazing what you can achieve by working together. We want them to go out there and express themselves, putting in a shift for one another, and you the fans. Now we’ve got to perform and prove last week was just a blip.”
How’s this season been for East Grinstead Town?
There’s certainly been no shortage of goals in the games featuring The Wasps since we met back in December. They’ve recorded a couple of excellent results including an amazing 7-3 victory at Walton Casuals, two 4-2 victories over Cray Wanderers and a 4-4 draw with Hastings United. On the flip side they have been heavily beaten by Greenwich Borough, Tooting & Mitcham United and Herne Bay 6-0 in their last trip on the road. It looked for a while, well two weeks, as if they would also need a new manager when it was announced that Matt Longhurst quit to become assistant at Hastings United, but he missed East Grinstead so much that fourteen days later he is back in the dugout. Marcus Elliott has been among the goals for them in recent games whilst Travis Gregory has not been shy in front of goal.
Last Six Games (League only)
Lewes – W 3 D 0 L 3 GS 10 GA 9 Pts 9
East Grinstead Town – W 3 D 0 L 3 GS 15 GA 17 Pts 9
Last time we met – East Grinstead Town 1 Lewes 3 – 10th December 2016
The Rooks made a bright start and took the lead after just seven minutes through Charlie Coppola, who cut in from the right and sent a superb 25-yard effort past Chris Haigh in the East Grinstead goal and into the top corner.
The lead lasted barely a minute though, as the hosts went on the attack from the restart and saw Tashi Kwayie convert a low cross from the right to level the scores almost immediately. After such a bright start, there were few clear-cut opportunities for either side during the remainder of the half, despite both teams attempting to play attacking football.
East Grinstead came close to taking the lead just after the half-hour, however, as Chris Winterton was forced into a smart save to push a Charlie Harris free-kick round the post. The final chance of the half fell to Lewes, with Jonte Smith seeing an effort from a difficult angle hit the side-netting after good play down the right from Stewart-Hunter.
The Rooks started the second half in a similar fashion to the first, and saw Jack Dixon send two headers just wide within minutes of the restart. Despite this, East Grinstead should have taken the lead through Kwayie, who found himself through on goal but could only place his effort just wide of the post with only Winterton to beat.
Lewes made the most of this let-off by taking the lead on the hour through Smith, who latched onto a perfectly-weighted through-ball from Stephen Okoh and sent a composed finish past Haigh and into the back of the net at the end of an incisive counter-attack to score his third goal since returning to the Pan on a permanent basis last month.
The hosts continued to look dangerous going forward, and saw Kwayie send a close-range volley just over, before sending a shot on the turn wide from a few yards out. Once again, the Rooks punished East Grinstead by doubling their lead after 74 minutes. Okoh was the scorer, exchanging passes with Smith on the edge of the area before running through and finishing past Haigh and into the roof of the net.
Lewes saw out the closing stages of the game comfortably and could have added to their lead in stoppage time, as substitute Callum Kealy sent a powerful effort from the edge of the area just over after another impressive counter-attack. This was an impressive result for the Rooks, whose clinical finishing was ultimately the difference between the two sides in an evenly-contested game.
East Grinstead Town: Haigh, Mensah, Robinson, Hoare, Thompson, McIntyre, Hogan, Harris, Kwayie, Elliott, Dos Santos.
Subs: Salako, Thomas, Mazzone, Richards, Burns.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George, Harrington, Stewart-Hunter, Sow, Okoh (Uade 81), Hammond (Conlon 46), Smith (Kealy 84), Dixon, Coppola.
Unused Subs: Brotherton, Whitmore.
Booked: Harrington, Stewart-Hunter.
Kick off at The Pan on Saturday is 3pm.