Two goals from Ronnie Conlon helped Lewes to their third victory of pre-season in their penultimate friendly at Southern Combination Premier Division side Eastbourne United reports Tom Harper.
With several senior plays unavailable, Darren Freeman handed a first start of pre-season to both Matt Gunn and Steve Brinkhurst, and included new signing Reece Williams-Bowers in the side after he had impressed as a trialist throughout pre-season.
The hosts made a bright start, with former Lewes winger Max Howell forcing a smart save from Chris Winterton with an effort from the edge of the area. Eastbourne United continued to see a lot of the ball and took the lead after about 20 minutes, as some hesitant Lewes defending gave a United midfielder time to take a touch and send a low half-volley from the left-hand side of the penalty area across Winterton and into the bottom corner.
Conceding this goal seemed to wake up the Rooks, who saw Jonte Smith send a close-range header from a Harry Reed cross straight at the goalkeeper after good build-up play down the right. Lewes equalised just before the half-hour through the impressive Ronnie Conlon, who latched onto a cut-back from Smith and finished emphatically across the goalkeeper from close range to level the scores.
Conlon was involved in all of the Rook’s best play, as he forced a fine save from the goalkeeper with a low effort at the end of a purposeful run, with Smith just unable to adjust his feet in front of goal to convert the rebound.
The introduction of Liam MacDevitt at half-time immediately gave Lewes more pace up front, with his willingness to drift into the channels and take people on causing the United defence plenty of problems. George Landais was another one of four substitutes introduced at half-time by Freeman, and he should have given the Rooks the lead within minutes of the restart, but could only scuff his close-range effort wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Lewes took the lead just after the hour through Conlon, as he timed his run into the box perfectly to run onto a low cross from MacDevitt and finish into the roof of the net from almost on the penalty spot at the end of a swift counter-attack that had started with the Rooks clearing a United corner.
Both sides made several substitutions as the half progressed, and there were few chances of note in the closing stages. The best chance for either side fell to MacDevitt, who beat several defenders before seeing his powerful effort from a tight angle well saved by the goalkeeper at his near post.
This was another good work-out for the Rooks, who were made to work hard by an impressive Eastbourne United side before stepping up a gear in the second half and getting a win that their performance arguably deserved.
Lewes complete their pre-season preparations against Burgess Hill Town at the Pan on Friday, kick-off at 7.45pm.
Lewes: Winterton, Reed, George, Bosma, Brinkhurst, Gunn, Brotherton, Sow, Smith, Williams-Bowers, Conlon.
Subs: MacDevitt, Stroomberg, Landais, Hammond, A Trialist, Kealy, McCarthy.