Lewes ended 2016 with a win over local rivals Three Bridges although they were made to sweat after the visitors staged a second half come-back reports Stuart Fuller.
Darren gave new signing Adria Munoz-Fernandez, signed this week from Whitehawk, his debut in goal as well as giving Jamie Brotherton his first start in a month, replacing Charlie Coppola.
The Rooks started the game well, trying to stretch the Three Bridges side who had won their last two away games. Conlon was sent flying in the area in the fifth minute as he ran onto a loose ball but the referee was having none of it. On the other side Brotherton was hacked down and from the resulting free-kick Harrington was impeded but play was allowed to continue and Jonté Smith was on hand to turn the ball in to give Lewes the lead.
The majority of the game was being played in the middle of the park during the first half an hour, with neither side really able to find any clear openings. Brotherton almost got on the end of a great cross from Kaja whilst at the other end Tony Garrod always looked a threat when the ball was played in but new keeper Munoz-Fernandez was rarely troubled in the opening 30 minutes.
Lewes finally got a second when a neat passage of play saw Brotherton played in behind Crellin and he poked it into the far corner, giving the keeper no chance. The Rooks and the crowd felt that the home side should have had a penalty in the minute before half time when Conlon is bundled to the floor and then Brotherton’s shot is well saved.
For those still queueing to get their pint or pie they may have missed the third, scored seconds into the second half by Ronnie Conlon. The midfielder, who is in the form of his career at the moment, Kaja’s strong run takes him past the defence and he pulls it back to Conlon who puts it in the top corner to make it 3-0.
You would have thought a three goal lead would have led to an easy second period but Three Bridges changed their formation and brought Allan Tait on and suddenly looked dangerous, forcing Munoz-Fernandez into a couple of great saves although he was powerless to stop Tony Garrod’s who smashed the ball home from close range after the Rooks defence appeared to be asleep.
Charlie Coppola was introduced for the tiring Jamie Brotherton and he took his place on the right, looking to exploit to overworked full-back. The Rooks started to regain control of the game, firstly with Dixon’s powerful run and shot well saved by Thorp then Conlon looked odds on to add his second but was again denied by the keeper.
A lapse in concentration brought Three Bridges back into the game with eighteen minutes to play as Tait was given the freedom of the six yard box to choose his spot and make it 3-2.
Hammond’s introduction brought some fresh energy for the Rooks though and five minutes later Coppola made the game safe, reacting quickest to a ball cleared off the line and smashing it into the top corner (Watch the video of the goal thanks to Ben Norton here).
After the fourth goal, Lewes looked likely to go on and score more but Kieron Thorp, on his return to The Pan, once again had a superb game for the visitors and denied Smith and Coppola in the latter stages.
Next up for the Rooks is another local derby tomorrow when Horsham are the visitors at The Pan, kick off 3pm.
Lewes: Munoz-Fernandez, Brinkhurst, George, Harrington, Stewart-Hunter, Malins, Kaja, Conlon (Hammond – 75 mins), Smith (Kealy – 89 mins), Dixon, Brotherton (Coppola – 65 mins)
Subs not used: Sow, Whitmore
Three Bridges: Thorp, Sargent, Fender (Wilson – 89 mins), Lansdale, Cooney, Crellin, Rowe-Hurst (Toussaint – 83 mins), Howard-Bold (Tait – 49 mins), Garrod, Pierre, Allan-Djilali
Subs not used: Fox
Referee: Damith Bandara