Lewes produced arguably their best performance of the season to comprehensively beat a strong Tilbury side last night and progress to the First Qualifying Round of the Buildabase FA Trophy, reports Stuart Fuller.
Darren Freeman made a couple of changes to the side with Lloyd Cotton coming in for Tom Vickers at the back, whilst Ronnie Conlon started in the centre of midfield in place of James Hammond. Due to issues at the Dartford Crossing the team couldn’t start their warm up until 7:25pm but they certainly came out of the blocks strongest from the kick off, with Brotherton forcing a save out of the Tilbury keeper in the first minute.
The Rooks didn’t have to wait long to get their noses in front. With just over 4 minutes on the clock Matt George beat his man down the left, cut inside and squared it to Ronnie Conlon whose shot took a slight deflection but ended up in the back of the net.
The goal spurred the home team into action and they put the Lewes defence under pressure. However, Freeman and Cotton stayed strong, with Winterton being alert when any balls came over their heads. Charlie Coppola had the beating of the Tilbury left-back, Jimmy Cook, at will and it was no surprise to see his name be the first in the book for hauling down the young Rook. Conlon followed him a few minutes later when he was guilty of a similar offence at the hosts broke.
Just after the half-hour mark, Lewes had their second. A Brotherton corner was flicked on by Dixon and found Conlon whose shot hit the post but Coppola was on hand to smack in the rebound. The Rooks went in very good value for their half-time lead.
Tilbury made a tactical change early in the second half and should have got themselves back in the game when the one and only lapse in concentration at the back saw Winterton fail to punch a ball clear under pressure and the ball was played across the area to Kurt Smith who had an open goal but somehow managed to blast over from three yards out.
Lewes wrapped up the win in the 70th minute when a superbly delivered free-kick from Dixon found Lloyd Cotton and he headed home from close range. Minutes later Winterton was called upon to save with his legs as Odedoyin looked odds on to score, then Stacey Freeman made a last-gasp challenge on the same player when he was clear through again. Alex Laing had a late chance to add a fourth but hit over when unmarked in the area.
Lewes stayed strong until the end, weathering a late bombardment from the home side who were looking for some consolation. This was an impressive team performance against a side with a long unbeaten record and on the verge of the Ryman League North play-off spots. The reward is an away tie at Kingstonian, likely to be on Sunday 30th October, kick off 3pm.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George, Harrington, Freeman, Cotton, Culley, Conlon (Hammond – 81 mins), Brotherton (Laing – 74 mins), Dixon, Coppola (Dramis – 89 mins)
Subs not used: Covolan, Perry
Booked: Conlon, Culley
Tilbury: Butcher, Mead, Cook (Conway – 60 mins), Peddie, Benoit, Singh, Age (Odedoyin – 67 mins), Carlile (Jaggs – 47 mins), Richmond, James, K Smith
Subs not used: J Smith, Aromolaran
Booked: Cook, K Smith