A clinical display from Eastbourne Borough saw Lewes fall to only a second defeat of pre-season after a 4-1 reverse against the National League South side in torrential rain at the Pan reports Tom Harper.
Darren Freeman used the game as an opportunity to take a look at several trialists, with three named in the starting line-up and a further three included on the bench as he looks to finalise his squad heading into the league season.
There were few chances of note for either side during the opening stages, but both teams looked comfortable on the ball in the testing conditions. The first goal-mouth action of note came on the half-hour, when Yemi Odubade was adjudged to have been pulled back by one of two central defenders on trial for the Rooks in the penalty area. Nat Pinney converted the spot-kick to give the visitors the lead.
They nearly doubled their lead minutes later, with Chris Winterton forced into a smart save low down to his right to push a Matt Drage effort round the post. Lewes soon had a chance of their own though, as a trialist showed good pace down the right to cut inside former Rooks left-back Leon Redwood, before cutting the ball back for Bouwe Bosma, whose first-time effort hit the inside of the post and rolled along the line before eventually being cleared.
The visitors finished the half strongly, with Winterton making a fine double-save to keep out close-range efforts from Pinney and Jamie Taylor, before saving another Pinney effort two minutes later.
Eastbourne Borough doubled their lead two minutes into the second through Drage, who was given time and space to run through midfield and pass the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after referee Damith Bandara appeared to miss a clear foul that led to Lewes being dispossessed on the halfway line. The visitors were comfortably on top at this stage, and Winterton was called upon to make another impressive save to keep out a close-range header from a quickly-taken corner.
It was therefore no surprise when they increased their lead further just after the hour, as Odubade capitalised on some hesitant defending to finish past Winterton from close range. After seeing very little of the ball for the first 20 minutes of the second half, the Rooks gradually began to regain a foothold in the game, and saw Bosma send a low cut-back from the right just too far ahead of Liam MacDevitt in front of an open goal.
Lewes were able to pull a goal back after 72 minutes through substitute George Landais, who dispossessed an Eastbourne defender before running through on goal and lobbing goalkeeper Bailey Vose from a difficult angle. The visitors continued to look dangerous going forward though, and regained their three-goal lead in the final ten minutes, as substitute Harry Ransom sent a powerful half-volley from close-range into the top corner after some hesitant Lewes defending.
Despite this, the Rooks finished the game strongly, and saw MacDevitt bravely denied by Vose at point-blank range after good play down the left by Jamie Brotherton, who put in an impressive second-half performance after replacing Ronnie Conlon at the break.
This was a good workout for Lewes, who matched their opponents from two leagues higher for long periods of the game, but saw moments of hesitation at the back punished by some clinical finishing.
The Rooks conclude their pre-season preparations against Burgess Hill Town at the Pan on Friday, kick-off at 7.45pm.
Lewes: Winterton (Stroomberg 83), Reed (McCarthy 76), George, Hammond, A Trialist, B Trialist, Conlon (Brotherton 46), Sow (Landais 71), Smith (MacDevitt 56), Bosma (D Trialist 68), C Trialist (Robinson 56).
Unused Subs: E Trialist, F Trialist.
Eastbourne Borough: Vose, Hendon, Redwood, Khinda-John, Simpemba, Drage, Odubade, Torres, Pinney, Taylor, McCallum.
Subs: Worrall, Horlock, Ransom, Lovett, Street, Crittenden.
Referee: Damith Bandara