The Rooks recorded their first draw of the season with a solid performance at high-flying Tooting & Mitcham United, reports Stuart Fuller.
Darren Freeman was able to field the same outfield starting ten as he did on Tuesday night at Tilbury, with recent loan signing Lucas Covolan coming in for the absent Chris Winterton. The confidence from the victory in Essex earlier in the week was clear to see in the opening exchanges as the Lewes midfield, with Culley and Brotherton switching positions to confuse the hosts, whilst Charlie Coppola had the beating of the full-back almost at will.
Ronnie Conlon had an early chance after a superb run by Brotherton down the left and cutting inside his man but his acrobatic effort appeared to strike an arm. Duncan Culley was then played in by a superb Brotherton long ball but his lob beat the keeper and the cross-bar. He then had a close-range effort superbly saved by Pierson after some lovely approach play by Brinkhurst, Coppola and Conlon, then finally he missed from a few yards as he couldn’t quite get his foot around a ball played across the area by Coppola.
At the other end debutant Lucas Covolan had to be alert to make sharp saves from Dunn and Bassett, but actually rarely looked troubled. Despite some very erratic decisions by the officials, Lewes continued to look for the opening goal towards the end of the half but couldn’t find a way through the solid Tooting back line. In the last seconds of the half, Charlie Coppola turned awkwardly and went down in serious pain, leaving the field clearly in discomfort as the half-time whistle blew.
Coppola didn’t emerge for the second half, instead it was the return of Jonté Smith that had the fans applauding. The second period couldn’t have been more different. The sunshine disappeared and so too did some of our first-half swagger and confidence. The hosts took the game to Lewes and all of a sudden we seemed to struggle, although it has to be said that Freeman and Cotton were once again outstanding in the middle of defence. The Rooks weathered a real onslaught with corner after corner being thrown into the middle of the box, but defended superbly.
At the other end the Rooks had a couple of chances to grab all three points, with Harrington, Hammond and Jonté Smith all having chances but Pierson was on top form to ensure that the game ended goal-less.
It shows how far the squad has developed in the past month that we left Imperial Fields disappointed to have only gained a draw with a team in 3rd place in the table. Unbeaten in six games games now, The Rooks head to Walton Casuals on Wednesday night looking to pick up more points.
Tooting & Mitcham United: Pierson, Robinson, Wedgeworth, Dines, Moraes, Patterson-Bohner, Hoban, Bennett, Dunn (Day – 80 mins), Bassett (Dixon – 74 mins), Roberts (J Wilson – 59 mins)
Subs not used: Hall, C Wilson
Lewes: Covolan, Brinkhurst, George, Harrington, Freeman, Cotton, Culley, Conlon (Hammond – 64 mins), Brotherton (Uade – 85 mins), Dixon, Coppola (Smith – 46 mins)
Subs not used: Perry, Dramis
Booked: Brinkhurst, Culley