A scintillating first-half display saw Lewes return to winning ways with an emphatic 5-0 victory over ten-man Wingate & Finchley at the Pan, reports Tom Harper (pictures James Boyes).
Tony Russell made one change to the side that drew at Cray Wanderers in their previous game, with Bradley Pritchard replacing Ayo Olukoga in the starting line-up.
Lewes started brightly and nearly took an early lead through Pritchard, who saw a well-struck 25-yard volley saved by Ben Goode.
The Rooks went ahead on 12 minutes through Deon Moore, who collected a pass from Tyrique Hyde down the left before beating his marker and blasting a superb strike across Goode and into the top corner.
Lewes were dominating the game and saw Jamie Mascoll test Goode twice in quick succession with long-range efforts.
They remained on the front foot as the half progressed and were handed an excellent chance to double their lead on the half-hour, winning a penalty after Joe Taylor was pulled back by Michael Olarewaju as he was about to convert a Pritchard cross.
The deliberate denial of a goalscoring opportunity left the referee with little choice but to dismiss Olarewaju, and a challenging evening for the visitors became even tougher when Taylor sent Goode the wrong way from the spot to make it 2-0 to Lewes.
Lewes continued to control the game as they looked to make the most of their numerical advantage, the dangerous Moore seeing an attempt deflected just wide at the end of an excellent passing move.
The Rooks made it 3-0 on 42 minutes, as a long ball in behind by Johnville Renee was helped on by Moore into the path of Ryan Gondoh, who finished calmly past Goode.
It was 4-0 just a minute later, Taylor running onto a perfectly-weighted through-ball from Hyde before lifting the ball over the onrushing Goode and into the back of the net to put Lewes in a dominant position heading into half-time.
After such an action-packed first half, it was perhaps unsurprising that the second saw fewer clear-cut opportunities, with the ten men of the visitors sitting deep and defending well to prevent further damage.
Lewes were enjoying plenty of possession and appeared to be denied two penalties during the early stages of the half, with a clear handball and then a foul on Taylor minutes later not leading to a second spot-kick of the evening.
Goode wasn’t called into action as regularly, but still had to be alert to save bravely at the feet of Pritchard, who had been played through by Taylor.
Ryley Scott impressed for the Rooks as a half-time substitute and came close twice with long-range efforts, the second in particular only just clearing the crossbar with Goode beaten.
Just as it appeared the game would finish 4-0, Lewes added a a spectacular fifth deep into stoppage time, as Rhys Murrell-Williamson cut in from the right before unleashing an unstoppable strike that flew past Goode and into the far top corner, sparking wild celebrations involving every outfield player with the fans behind the goal.
There was barely time for the game to restart, leaving Lewes to reflect on an excellent display and an important win heading into a busy February.
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Read the progcast here.
You can view James Boyes’ excellent photos here.
The Rooks welcome Kingstonian to the Pan on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Carey, Renee, Mascoll, Champion, Salmon (Olukoga 46), Young, Pritchard (Murrell-Williamson 70), Hyde (Scott 46), Moore, Gondoh, Taylor.
Unused Subs: Tamplin, Walker.
Wingate & Finchley: Goode, Gbadebo, Siggers, Bani, Olarejawu, Apat, Ifil, Acherman-Stanfield (Hernandez 46), Long, Vasiliou (Yeboah 46), Wynter (Bartley 76).
Unused Sub: Kearney.
Booked: Gbadebo, Bani.
Sent off: Olarejawu.