Lewes manager Tony Russell is expecting a tight clash at the Dripping Pan tonight when the Rooks host Carshalton in the first home game of the 2022/23 Isthmian Premier League season.
Russell saw a patched-up side claim a 1-1 draw at Wingate & Finchley at the weekend, but is hoping to have some more players back for Tuesday’s 7:45pm kick off.
Fans can still buy tickets for the game and Russell is looking forward to playing in front of the Rooks fans once again.
“We can’t wait to be back,” says Russell. “Mitch Nelson’s suspension is up and Will Salmon is back. Ayo Olukoga we don’t know if he’s fit enough to come in yet, and the other boys like Tom Phipp, Bradley Pritchard and Joe Taylor will all be assessed.
“We’ve got Carshalton tonight and it’s going to be big. Steve McKimm is a top manager and a real good guy in football. He’s won promotion with Tunbridge, always has his sides well set-up and they won their opening game of the season.
“They’ll be full of confidence and this will be a really tough game. They’ve got pace out wide, guile up front, full-backs who like to bomb on.
“So it has the makings of a really good game under the lights at the Pan. We’re looking forward to getting back home and playing in front of our fans, on a new pitch.”
Hard work over the summer
Ronan Silva scored on his debut for Lewes at the weekend, but the Rooks couldn’t hold on for three points on a blistering hot day at Wingate.
Reflecting on the game and pre-season as a whole, Russell says: “We were disappointed on Saturday. We felt it was two points dropped.
“We had a few players missing and it’s been a very hard pre-season. We lost Michael Klass to Aldershot very late in pre-season, and it put us back a little bit.
“Joe Vines and I have had a very busy summer. And we’ve picked up a few injuries and suspensions. Coming into the game our spine was ripped out of the side. But the good news is none of the injuries are serious – around one to three weeks for the lot of them, which is great. The bad news is any team at our level will tell you you can’t lose that amount of players. It’s not ideal.
“We’ve been on the phone trying to get players in. Alfie Young and Ronan had only trained with us once before Saturday, so it wasn’t ideal going into the game. We had to give lots of debuts with very little work on it.
“So, saying all that you’d have taken a point away from home. But having played the game I thought we did enough to win it.”
Focus on Carshalton
Carshalton got their season underway last weekend with a 2-1 win over Brightlingsea Regent.
Aaron Smith-Joseph scored on his debut to earn Carshalton the win, after earlier earning the penalty that Tom Beere converted to draw level with Brightlingsea.
Discussing his debut, Smith-Joseph told Carshalton’s club media: “It couldn’t have gone better. It’s a bit cliché but the main thing was to try and get the win, which the boys did.
“There’s a lot of believe in this squad, we know the potential we have. So even though we’ve had some back games [in pre-season] and didn’t start well [against Brightlingsea] we fought to turn it around and we did.”
Looking forward to Tuesday’s game, the striker said: “I’ve played there before. It’s a tough game. They have a good squad and I know a few of the lads. It will be a decent game but our boys are up for it.”
New manager McKimm has only been in the role seven weeks and said at the weekend he is still building this Carshalton team.
Discussing facing Lewes, he said: “Me and Barry know a lot of the managers in the league. Joe Vines and Tony Russell being two of them. We know how they do things, they’re very good at what they do. I’m not surprised they’re not one of the favourites to go up. They’ve got good recruitment and got decent players in to suit the way they play.
“They play very good football, have good goalscorers and are going to be a threat.”
Lewes beat Carshalton 2-1 at the War Memorial Sports Ground back in February, and fans may remember the 1-0 victory at the Dripping Pan last November. Michael Klass scored the winner that day.
Lewes FC vs Carshalton tickets
Lewes FC tickets for the game, which kicks off at 7:40pm on Tuesday, are available to buy now online or at the gate.
Ticket prices are as follows:
• Adults – £12 general admittance online
• Concessions – £8 general admittance online
• Kids (under 16) – free!
• Beach hut for six people – £110
Photo: James Boyes