Written by: Stuart
Lewes produced an impressive second-half comeback to recover from two goals down and secure a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Cray Wanderers, reports Tom Harper.
Tony Russell made one change to the side that lost at Carshalton Athletic in their previous game, with Ayo Olukoga replacing Bradley Pritchard in the starting line-up.
Lewes saw plenty of possession early on, moving the ball quickly through the pitch without really creating a chance of note.
The hosts took the lead with their first real attack of the game on 13 minutes, as good play down the right ended with Yahaya Bamba crossing for Tom Derry to head past Lewis Carey and into the back of the net.
This understandably galvanised Cray, who seemed happy to let Lewes enjoy possession, knowing that their well-organised back four would stand firm under any pressure.
The closest the Rooks came to a response saw Shaun Rowley in the Cray goal hold onto an Alfie Young strike that took a slight deflection off Joe Taylor.
Lewis Carey was called into more meaningful action down the other end minutes later, reacting well to deny former Rook Dajon Golding after he had beaten the offside trap and run in behind.
The hosts doubled their lead on 35 minutes and it was perhaps unsurprising to the large contingent of travelling fans that Golding was the scorer, reacting quickest to fire into the top corner after Carey had only been able to parry a powerful deflected strike from Dan Bassett.
Lewes pushed for a goal back during the closing stages of the half, but the closest they came saw a Deon Moore effort deflected wide in a crowded penalty area.
The Rooks introduced Rhys Murrell-Williamson in place of Moore at half-time in a bid to turn possession into clear-cut opportunities.
They did this by halving the deficit three minutes into the second half, Carey holding onto an Anthony Cook free-kick before starting a counter-attack that ended with Ryan Gondoh getting the better of Jephte Tanga and slotting the ball past the onrushing Rowley and into the bottom corner.
Lewes equalised on 54 minutes through Taylor, who capitalised on some hesitant defending by firing past Rowley from a tight angle and sending the travelling supporters into raptures.
After such a bright start to the second half, the game settled into more of a tactical battle, as both sides pushed for a goal, whilst also being mindful of the attacking qualities of their opponents.
The Rooks continued to pose a threat every time they went forward, with Tyrique Hyde drawing a smart save from Rowley after being teed up by Taylor at the end of an incisive passing move.
The best chance either side had to win the game fell to Cray in the final few minutes though, as Cook latched onto a loose pass in the Lewes defence and saw his powerful strike beaten away by Carey.
The remainder of the game passed by without any chances of note, leaving Lewes to reflect on a hard-earned point away from home that they would undoubtedly have taken at half-time.
Lewes welcome Wingate & Finchley to the Pan for their next game on Tuesday, kick-off st 7.45pm.
Cray Wanderers: Rowley, Tanga, Wood, Skeffington, Weaire, Jones, Bassett, Golding, Derry, Cook, Bamba.
Unused Subs: Clunis, Christie, King-Bassett, Ijaha, Boamah.
Lewes: Carey, Salmon, Champion, Young, Mascoll, Olukoga (Pritchard 75), Renee, Hyde, Gondoh (Walker 90), Moore (Murrell-Williamson 46), Taylor.
Unused Subs: Tamplin, Scott.
Booked: Renee, Mascoll.
Attendance: 334 (approx. 100 travelling Rooks)