Lewes gained a valuable three points against fellow Play-off candidates Hythe Town in a game of little goal-mouth action at The Dripping Pan, reports Stuart Fuller.
Despite having to cancel training on Thursday night with a number of key players struggling, Darren was able to field a strong side for the visit of Hythe Town and had the added boost of Jamie Brotherton, available for the first time in a month, being fit enough to make the bench.
After last week’s attacking display at Molesey, this was a much more of a tactical battle, with both sides happy to test each other out during the opening quarter. Hythe’s Kieron Campbell looked to run at the Rooks defence when he had a chance, whilst in the middle of the park Gus Sow was a cool head, putting a foot in when needed and keeping the play simple.
The visitors had done their homework on the Rooks and looked to double up on both Stephen Okoh and Matty George when they looked to get forward, whilst they also closed down Jack Dixon whenever he was in shooting range. Consequently, neither keeper had much to do in the opening half an hour with the nearest we came to a goal was when Kenny Pogue headed into the side netting in the 30th minute.
Four minutes later though The Rooks broke the deadlock. A good run by Stephen Okoh down the right was halted by the full-back at the expense of a corner. Gus Sow delivered it to the near post where Stacey Freeman dived to flick it on and Alex Malins, having lost his marker, headed home from a few yards out.
Lewes had the better of the remainder of the half, although the resolute Hythe Town defence kept a high line, catching Jonté Smith out a couple of times as he looked to be running clean through.
The second period followed much the same pattern as the first. Chris Winterton was called into action in the 70 minute when he had to get down low to stop a header creeping in at the near post whilst at the other end Jack Dixon’s first shot on goal had the Hythe keeper beaten but it hit the outside of the post. Five minutes later Ronnie Conlon thought he’d scored with his first touch after the Hythe keeper had fumbled a high ball under a challenge from Stephen Okoh but the referee deemed it was a foul.
With the rain starting to fall, the Rooks looked to close down the game and played possession football. Jamie Brotherton replaced Stephen Okoh with five minutes to play with a rousing cheer from the excellent crowd and immediately showed his skill with a neat flick to beat his man on the right-hand side. Despite an additional five minutes needed at the end of the game, Lewes comfortably saw out the game and thoroughly deserved all three points.
The win leaves the Rooks in seventh place in a three-way tie on 67 points. One final note on the officials, who had an excellent game and kept the match flowing with unnecessary interruptions and without a yellow card in sight. Darren was understandably delighted with the win and the performance when Barry Collins caught up with him after the game.
Lewes travel to Godalming Town next Saturday, looking to extend their winning streak against the side at the foot of the table.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George, Harrington, Freeman, Malins (Conlon – 74 mins), Okoh (Brotherton – 85 mins), Hammond, Smith, Dixon, Sow
Subs not used: Munoz-Fernandez, Grimaud, Kealy
Hythe Town: Mant, Aboagye, Burchell, Johnson, Cloke, Wilson (Wraight – 77 mins), Chapman, Adams, Pogue (Sawyer – 65 mins), Grant, Campbell
Subs not used: Price, Carr, Webster