A strong performance by the Rooks grabbed a point at in-form Wingate & Finchley but it could have been much more, reports Stuart Fuller.
With the departure of Dayshonne Golding to Worthing on Friday, boss Hugo Langton brought Ronnie Conlon into the starting eleven whilst Jardel Francis-Adeyinka replaced Daniel Olusemo, who started on the bench.
It was the two new additions to the starting XI that were involved in the early action. Francis-Adeyinka pulled up with an injury after just four minutes and was replaced by Tegan Freeman and then in the 7th minute Ronnie Conlon picked up a ball wide on the left, cut inside and hit an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top corner of the net. After fourteen months regaining fitness after his serious knee injury it was a fitting moment with his celebration understandable.
The Rooks looked confident going forward with James Hammond and Billy Medlock both very busy in midfield, breaking down the Wingate attacks but the final balls into the box were easily dealt with by the strong Wingate back four. The conditions were challenging, with intermingled spells of sunshine, rain and hail, causing issues for both sides.
The home side grabbed their equaliser in the 25th minute when a cross to the far post was inadvertently diverted back into the danger area by Tom Day and in a crowded penalty area Great Evans poked the ball home.
The second half started in bright sunshine and it was the Rooks who enjoyed the early possession. Ronnie Conlon appeared to be pulled back as he prepared to shoot in the 60th minute whilst five minutes later a shot from James Hammond appeared to strike the hands of Farrell in the area. Tegan Freeman was then on the end of a strong tackle from Rifat that only saw the Wingate player receive a yellow card.
Tom Day then proved to the Rooks hero, clearing off the line from another Wingate corner that wasn’t cleared whilst Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke was forced into a smart save from Tejan-Sie.
However, it as the Rooks who looked the more likely team to grab the winner and with the game entering injury-time James Hammond free-kick was diverted in the wind, forcing the home keeper, Gore, into the save of the game to keep the scores level.
Highlights of the game, thanks you Your Instant Replay, can be watched here
Hugo’s post-match interview can be watched here.
The Rooks face another trip to North London on Tuesday night when they head to Enfield Town, kick off 7:45pm.
Wingate & Finchley: Gore, Doyle, Farrell, Rifat, Eales (Grace – 46mins), Platt, Ifil, Tejan-Sie, Evans, Ruff (Kennedy – 80mins), Antwi (Bancroft – 71mins)
Subs not used: Woods-Garness, Sayoud
Bookings: Rifat, Ruff
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Day, Redwood, Hammond, Malins (Chappell – 73mins), Frimpong, Conlon (Halsey – 70mins), Hatzimouratis, Cosgrave, Medlock, Francis-Adeyinka (Freeman – 4mins)
Subs not used: Olusemo, Popham
Attendance: 102 (27 Rooks fans)