For the second week in a row, Lewes were unfortunate to suffer defeat against promotion-chasing opponents after falling to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Cray Wanderers, reports Tom Harper.
Ross Standen and Tony Coade made one change to the side that lost 1-0 at home to Carshalton Athletic in their previous game, with Jordy Mongoy replacing Stefan Ilic in the starting line-up.
Lewes saw plenty of the ball early on, but it was Cray who came closest during the opening stages, as Tom Phipp spotted Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke off his line and shot narrowly over the bar from just inside the Lewes half.
The hosts took the lead on 11 minutes through Karl Dent, who beat Stroomberg-Clarke to a long ball over the top before slotting the ball into the empty net.
Lewes looked to respond immediately and saw a Billy Medlock free-kick from the edge of the area parried by Lewis Carey to Jordy Mongoy, whose ball back across was put into the side-netting at the far post by Tom Day.
The Rooks continued to look dangerous going forward, with Mongoy putting a Dayshonne Golding cut-back over the bar at the end of an incisive counter-attack.
Cray were seeing more of the ball and playing out from the back at every opportunity though, and came close to doubling their lead when Rhys Murrell-Williamson drew a smart save from Stroomberg-Clarke with a 25-yard free-kick.
Stroomberg-Clarke was called into action again minutes later to push a Charlie Allen strike round the post.
From the resulting corner, Mongoy was in the right place at the right time to clear a deflected Joe Taylor effort off the line.
The Rooks were unable to clear this second corner in quick succession and the ball fell to Jay Leader, whose well-struck volley beat James Hammond on the line and ended up in the bottom corner to double the host’s lead on the half-hour mark.
Lewes responded well to falling further behind and reduced the arrears on 38 minutes, a Charlie Coppola cross from the left deceiving Carey and finding the top corner.
The hosts finished the half strongly though, with Stroomberg-Clarke denying both Leader and Murrell-Williamson in quick succession.
Lewes started the second half brightly and saw a Golding strike deflected just wide of the near post as they searched for an equaliser.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first for long periods, with Cray enjoying plenty of possession, but Lewes always looking dangerous on the break and capable of punishing any lapses in concentration at the back.
Cray knew that a third goal would probably be enough to secure the points as the half progressed, and saw Murrell-Williamson clip the top of the crossbar from the edge of the area before forcing another smart save from Stroomberg-Clarke when clean through on goal.
Taylor was the next player to go close for the hosts minutes later, shooting over the bar with only Stroomberg-Clarke to beat after being played through by Jerome Federico at the end of a quick counter-attack.
Lewes were still very much in the game however, with the impressive Coppola being denied by Carey at the end of a purposeful run from midfield.
The Rooks enjoyed one of their best spells of the game late on, and saw Medlock mis-control a cut-back from the left in front of goal, before Leon Redwood shot wide from 25 yards minutes later.
Lewes forced a succession of corners and free-kicks during the final few minutes but were unable to seriously test Carey, and were left to rue missed chances when they were on top.
Highlights of the game thanks to Your Instant Replay can be viewed here.
After the game Co-Boss Tony Coade spoke to Stuart Fuller about the defeat.
The Rooks will hope to return to winning ways when they welcome East Thurrock United to the Pan on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Cray Wanderers: Carey, Williams, Leader, Nelson, Phipp, Federico (Rollinson 76), Taylor, Mundele, Dent (Pritchard 75), Murrell-Williamson, Allen (Lewis 87).
Unused Subs: Okonkwo, Hall.
Booked: Carey, Williams, Dent, Murrell-Williamson.
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Day, Redwood, Malins, Chappell, Freeman (Diedrick-Roberts 73), Golding (Conlon 83), Hammond, Mongoy (Ilic 56), Medlock, Coppola.
Unused Subs: Yeboah, Reed.
Booked: Redwood, Mongoy.
Attendance: 198 (Approx. 36 Travelling Rooks)