Lewes boss Tony Russell is expecting fireworks at Hornchurch when the Isthmian Premier League’s two in-form teams go toe-to-toe on Saturday.
Russell’s Rooks head into the encounter third in the table and on a run of six wins from their last eight games.
Hornchurch, meanwhile, have climbed to seventh in the league after stringing together a nine-game unbeaten streak, in which they’ve won eight.
Saturday’s hosts beat Lewes 3-1 at the Dripping Pan back in September. And Russell is expecting an equally competitive encounter this weekend.
“They are bang in form and absolutely flying. Mark Stimson is a top manager and they’ve got a good side,” says the manager.
“They were always going to come good, we knew that, and so we’re probably playing that at the worst possible time.
“But that’s a challenge and we like a challenge. We trained well in the week, spoke about them and put some things in place where I think we can go at them and get a positive result.
“We’re going to have to play really well but I think this group can.
League’s form teams clash
“We’re second in the form table to them, so it’s two good sides going at it. It’s got the makings of a great game, so hopefully you can come in your numbers and we’ll hopefully bring the three points back.”
Lewes head into Saturday’s game having beaten Cray Wanderers 2-0 on Tuesday, which made up somewhat from the 2-2 draw against Brightlingsea at the weekend.
Reflecting on the victory over his former club, Russell adds: “It was a tricky game because football’s about emotions, and we sat in the dressing room on Saturday as if we’ve lost.
“Coming into the [Cray] game the momentum was with them, but we called the players in to do an extra session on Monday – it was voluntary but I asked them, as I wanted to do some bits on Cray, it was an important game.
“They didn’t have to join the session. But to a man every single one of them was part of it.”
Prep makes the difference
Lewes won the game 2-0 thanks to goals from Joe Taylor and Razz Coleman De-Graft. And Russell puts the victory down to the extra prep done between the two games.
“We spoke about Cray, looked at things we felt we could exploit, and our new video analysis guy Charlie had seen something in one of the games he went to watch,” says the manager.
“So we flagged it and the second goal came from that. We set that trap, tried it all game and eventually got that second goal. Brilliant work from Charlie and from the boys who came in when they didn’t have to, and got their reward.”
“The game itself I don’t think we were at our sparkling best, but I’ve just gone through the stats and we had 63 percent of the ball, eight shots on target. They had one. So that tells you what you need to know about the game.
“We were OK without being brilliant and were always in control. I never felt they looked like scoring. We hit the post, Razz had one deflected wide, and the keeper made a good save from Ollie.
“In the second half we scored that second and then JT missed a good one from inside the box – it was a professional performance, one of those where we didn’t have to exert ourselves too much.
“We came into the game with a lot of boys out, we were down to the bare bones. The game was a potential banana skin but thankfully we managed it really well. I think it was a fair scoreline and were quite comfortable.”
Hornchurch vs Lewes kicks off at 3pm on Saturday at Hornchurch Stadium.