Lewes boss Tony Russell says the growing unity within the camp is starting to show on the pitch as the Rooks prepare to host Bognor Regis Town at a packed Dripping Pan on New Year’s Day.
Lewes head into the clash having won two games on the bounce, with the 3-1 victory at Horsham on Monday a particularly welcome sight for the boss.
Russell’s troops were held to a 0-0 draw against Horsham back in August.
And he says Monday’s victory is proof that the squad is gelling much better as we pass the halfway stage of the season.
“We’ve come a long way here. To go to Horsham and to negate them, and then to implement our style on the game, to control theme for large periods, was very, very pleasing,” says Russell.
“One area we’re looking to improve on is that final third. We’re getting a lot of the ball and getting into the right areas, but we’re not punishing teams enough for me.
“We’re certainly looking forward to Ollie (Tanner) coming back – he’s got a one-game suspension so he’ll miss Bognor and be back for Kingstonian.
“We might try and recruit in that area, we don’t know.”
Monday was an opportunity for new defensive signing Juevan Spencer to get his debut in a Rooks shirt, and the boss was delighted with his contribution.
“Juevan came in at right-back and had his debut, and I thought he was outstanding,” says Russell.
“He didn’t quite understand the press and what we’re trying to do but that’s understandable as he’s only just come in.
“We’ve got a session under our belts now and we’ve gone through it in detail, so I think he will improve even more. I think he’ll be an excellent addition to our squad.
“The squad is looking really, really good and are giving us great options. It’s great to see how far we’ve come from that first game against Horsham to where we are now. It makes all the hard work worth it when we see things like that. We’ve still got a lot of hard work to do but we’re certainly well on our way.
“Even the way the boys are bonding as a group, it’s so much better. At training I had to pull them in at one stage as I thought it was a little bit too jovial. But that tells you how far they’ve come – they’re very close as a group now and it’s all positive signs.”
Bognor on Saturday
Lewes take on Bognor at the Dripping Pan on New Year’s Day with a bumper crowd expected. Fans are urged to arrive earlier than usual in order to avoid long queues at the turnstiles, and can book tickets in advance online.
Lewes are yet to play Bognor this season and Russell is expecting a tight game against the mid-table side.
“When I watched their game against Worthing for 50 minutes they probably just shaded it. And that tells you everything you need to know about Bognor, they’re a very, very good side,” says Russell.
“They can beat anyone and are probably a bit disappointed where they are in the league. We’re only halfway through and they’ll be there (come the end of the season). They’ve got a very good coach and it’s going to be an extremely hard game.
“We had a good session on defensive shape and how to stop them, and I think it’s got the making of a great game.
“It should be a great crowd, just like it was against Horsham, and thanks again to the away fans who made that trip.
“It was brilliant when we scored seeing you all go nuts behind the goal. The boys talk about it in the dressing room and your support is so welcome.
“Keep coming in numbers because it’s those small percentages that help. We’re massive on small percentages and if two, three or four hundred of you come to away games then it just gives us another few percent, and in many games that’s what you need.”
Lewes vs Bognor tickets
Lewes FC tickets for the game, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, are available to buy online (at a discount) or on the gate.
Ticket prices on the gate are as follows:
Adults – £12 general admittance
Concessions – £8 general admittance
Kids (under 16) – free!
Beach hut for six people – £99 SOLD OUT
Whilst the guidance on the hosting of football matches at our level has not changed we are putting in place a couple of additional measures in anticipation of a higher than average attendance.
– The Ham Lane End turnstile will be open for both pre-paid and on the gate entry
– Additional hand sanitiser stations will be available within the ground
– Wearing masks in the Rook Inn is encouraged
– No tables or chairs available inside the bar