Two second-half goals from Lloyd Dawes helped Lewes to their first home win of the season against a Chatham Town side who finished the match with nine men, writes Tom Harper.
Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that beat Redhill in the FA Cup last weekend, with debutant Afolabi Coker and Alex Malins, making his first appearance of the season after missing the opening two weeks with a virus, replacing James Hammond and Dan Perry in the starting line-up.
The Rooks saw plenty of possession early on, with the movement and pace of Dawes stretching the Chatham defence during the opening stages.
Visiting goalkeeper Patrick Lee was rarely tested throughout the half though, with Alex Laing missing his kick in front of goal after a purposeful run and cut-back from the right-hand side from Dawes being the clearest opening Lewes created during the first 20 minutes.
Lewes had arguably their best chance of the half just after the half-hour, as Josh Jones cut the ball back from the left byline for Jack Dixon, who saw his goal-bound effort from close range blocked by a covering defender.
The Rooks started the second half on the front foot, with the introduction of Josh Street just after the restart giving Lewes more pace in the final third as they looked to find the opening goal.
They very nearly took the lead just before the hour through Lloyd Cotton, who saw his long-range effort fumbled over the crossbar by Lee.
The Rooks were enjoying their best spell of the game at this stage, with Jones forcing a smart save from Lee with a powerful effort from just inside the area after exchanging passes with Dawes.
Chatham were struggling to stay in the game and were dealt a huge blow minutes later when centre-back Jon Difford was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge.
Lewes made the most of their numerical advantage by taking the lead that their second-half performance had deserved after 68 minutes, with Dawes hooking a cross from Malins over Lee, who was several yards off his line, and into the back of the net.
The Rooks had an excellent chance to double their lead within minutes through Steve Brinkhurst, who saw a free header from a Jones corner bounce up and hit the underside of the bar before being cleared.
Lewes continued to push for a second goal and were given the chance to make the game safe in the closing stages from the penalty spot, as substitute Charlie Coppola dispossessed Lee just inside the area, before being fouled by the goalkeeper, leaving referee Craig Robson with no option but to send off a second Chatham player.
Dawes took the penalty, and found the bottom corner to score his fifth goal in two games after his hat-trick against Redhill last week.
The Rooks dominated the closing stages but were unable to test the outfield player who had replaced Lee in goal with Chatham having used all of their substitutes, although Jack Dixon saw his deflected effort from the edge of the area well held by the makeshift goalkeeper in stoppage time.
This was a fairly comfortable win for Lewes in the end, with the Rooks dominating possession throughout and deservedly scoring two second-half goals as they put the hard-working visitors under more pressure.
Next up for the Rooks is a short trip to Horsham on Bank Holiday Monday, kick-off at 3pm.
Watch Darren Freeman’s post-match interview on our new Lewes FC YouTube channel below:
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George, Vickers (Street 52), Coker, Malins, Jones, Cotton, Dawes (Kealy 88), Dixon, Laing (Coppola 72).
Unused Subs: Hammond, Sow.
Chatham Town: Lee, Abongye, Brand, Kaffo, Difford, Hickey, Lutchford, Bray (Rogers 63), Yusuff (Abe 46), Gundry, Rhule (Medley 58).
Unused Subs: Edwards, Newcombe.
Booked: Difford, Bray.
Sent off: Difford, Lee.
Referee: Craig Robson