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Lewes 0 Whitehawk 3

Lewes 0 - 3 Whitehawk
20 Dec 2016 - 19:45The Dripping Pan, Lewes

A hat-trick from Reece Connolly saw Lewes knocked out of the Sussex Senior Cup by Whitehawk, despite an encouraging performance against the National League South side at the Pan reports Tom Harper.

Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that beat Godalming 3-0 in their previous game, with Jack Dixon and Egli Kaja replacing James Hammond and Jonte Smith in the starting line-up.

The Rooks made a bright start, with Charlie Coppola cutting in from the right and seeing a deflected effort drop just over the crossbar.

Lewes were seeing plenty of the ball early on, and looked capable of testing the Whitehawk defence every time they went forward.

Despite this, the visitors took the lead after 22 minutes through Reece Connolly, who saw a half-volley from just inside the penalty area take a big deflection off Alex Malins and loop over the previously untroubled Chris Winterton and into the back of the net after a mis-placed defensive header.

Whitehawk doubled their lead just three minutes later, as Connolly emphatically converted a penalty after Steve Brinkhurst was harshly adjudged to have fouled the striker in the penalty area.

The visitors dominated the next ten minutes or so, causing the Lewes defence plenty of problems with their pace and power up front.

The Rooks were able to get through this period without conceding any further goals though, and saw Jack Dixon force a smart save from Lucas Covolan in the Whitehawk goal with a long-range strike, before Brinkhurst had an acrobatic volley from a Dixon corner headed off the line by Dan Harding.

Lewes continued to look dangerous going forward during the opening stages of the second half, with Covolan pushing a looping header from Coppola over the bar just minutes after the restart.

Whitehawk were using the ball well when they had it though, and they came close to extending their lead when Marvin Hamilton sent an effort from the edge of the area just wide at the end of an incisive counter-attack.

The Rooks nearly made the most of this minutes later, as Egli Kaja capitalised on some hesitant defending to reach a hopeful ball forward before forcing another good save from Covolan with a low effort.

Lewes were continuing to push for a route back into the game and went close to pulling a goal back again soon after, with substitute Jonte Smith seeing a close-range shot deflected just wide of the upright.

It was therefore against the run of play when Whitehawk were awarded a second penalty of the game after 68 minutes, as Danny Mills went down after little or no contact from Malins as he tried to force the striker away from goal, the offence seeming to take place outside of the area.

Connolly converted the spot-kick to give the visitors a 3-0 lead that was harsh on the Rooks, and all but sealed Whitehawk’s place in the quarter-finals.

Lewes tried to find a way back into the game during the final 20 minutes, but were unable to test Covolan and were left to reflect on an encouraging performance that deserved more than a heavy defeat.

The Rooks will hope to put this result behind them when they return to league action with a trip to Hastings United on Boxing Day, kick-off at 3pm.

Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George, Sow (Smith 38), Stewart-Hunter, Malins, Okoh (Brotherton 68), Conlon (Hammond 81), Kaja, Dixon, Coppola.

Unused Subs: Uade, Kealy.

Booked: Smith.

Whitehawk: Covolan, Abdulla, Harding (Rodrigues 89), Favarel, Aldavert, M’Boungou, Hamilton, Southam, Mills, Connolly, Osborn (Munoz 65).

Unused Subs: West, Tagbo, Reid.

Booked: Southam.

Referee: Michael Ryan

Attendance: 428