Tony Russell admits his new-look Lewes side is continuing to impress him and his coaching staff as the Rooks prepare for two games in three days.
Three wins on the bounce have lifted Lewes to second in the Isthmian League heading into Saturday’s home clash versus Hornchurch.
Three days later and Russell’s men are back in action at the Dripping Pan against Carshalton on 28th September.
And the boss, while delighted with the performances and results, is pushing the players to deliver more.
“Three wins in a week is massive and it puts us on par with where we want to be,” said Russell. “But we can’t get too carried away.
Just as last week when I said we can’t get too down when things aren’t going great, we can’t get too high when we’ve won three games – because it’s just three games.
But we’re certainly playing a lot better. The team selections we’re making are more consistent which allows the boys to form consistency.
Monday training has all been about Hornchurch, while on Wednesday it was all about us. It was probably the best session I’ve seen since I’ve been at the club. We’ve got a really good quality in terms of our players – the confidence is us. They took a lot of the session.”
Saturday’s encounter with Hornchurch will be the first clash between these two sides since a 0-0 draw at the Pan back in February 2020.
Hornchurch sit ninth in the table and are on a two-game winning run themselves, having beaten Margate in the league and Walthamstow in the FA Cup.
Experienced forward Sam Higgins boasts three goals from his last two outings and could well be the danger man again this weekend.
And Russell is wary of what Mark Stimson’s team will bring to the Pan.
“We’ve got two massive games coming up,” said Russell. “Mark at Hornchurch – there’s nothing much in this league that he hasn’t won. He got Gillingham from League Two into League One. I’ve a huge amount of respect for him in terms of what he’s done as a manager.
He’s had that group together for a while now and has done some amazing things. They’re always up there every year. He’s kept that quality together, which we haven’t quite got – obviously because we’re fairly new. They’re the opposite to what we are.”
Russell also gave praise to Rooks youngsters Razzaq Coleman De-Graft and Ollie Tanner, who have both impressed in the opening rounds of the season.
“We’ve got two young ones – Ollie and Raz – and we’ve been doing work with them since they’ve come to the club,” said the boss.
“We’ve seen some real improvements in them. They’re just getting better and better, and we feel there’s more to come.
The reason I want to flag these two is because these boys are literally coming to training with their ears back – every time we give them some information, show them anything, give them patterns to do, they carry it out.“
Tanner himself has already been in the goals this season and Russell believes there is even more to come from the youngster.
“Tanner out wide running down the flank scores the odd goal, but when someone’s crossing from the other wing he would be still out wide,” said Russell.
“We worked on him getting in front and across defenders to score goals – and if you look at his goals against Merstham and Brightlingsea, he’s doing that.
When there are crosses from the other side he’s turning himself into a centre-forward, which is a fine adjustment.
With Raz, he’s a different sort of winger – we’ve spoken to him about affecting games, which he’s doing now. He’s getting higher and higher, his turnover we felt sometimes was a little bit wasteful but he’s improving on that.
We’ve worked on things this Wednesday and I’ll be interested to see if we can bring that into the games coming up.”
Lewes v Hornchurch tickets
There are still tickets on sale online for the game on Saturday until 1pm, which kicks off at 3pm at the Dripping Pan. After that, tickets can of course still be bought at the gate.
Adults – £11 (£12 on the gate)
Concessions – £7 (£8 on the gate)
Kids (under 16) – free!
Beach hut for six people – £99