Lewes boss Tony Russell has issued a rallying call for the fans to get behind the boys and help maintain the momentum heading into three home games in seven days at the Dripping Pan – starting with Aveley tonight.
The Rooks beat Enfield 4-2 at the weekend to make it two wins from three and attention now turns to rapid-fire games against Aveley, Margate and Hornchurch.
That Enfield win, which saw the Rooks lead 3-0 at the break, came off the back of a 4-1 loss at Herne Bay in the week.
And while Russell admits to being frustrated by the lack of consistency, he knows staying positive is the first step to stringing the wins together.
“It’s been a tough week,” says the boss. “We got the boys back in on Wednesday to work on shape and talk through things. There’s been some negativity directed at us recently, which we’re aware of and we need to deal with it.
“I don’t agree with it all though. Take Saturday – we have 10 outfield players, five of which weren’t at the club last season. And we’re not the type of side to go ‘right let’s just hit areas and work hard and that’ll do’ – we’re asking our players to take on a lot of information with and without the ball, so they can play the Lewes way.
“When we get it right, like against Enfield on Saturday, we’re hard to play against and stop.
“For our fans who go to games home and away, they probably share my frustration. Most games we look really good, but when we’re bad we’re really bad. The drop off is too big, and I fully understand it’s frustrating people, just as it is frustrating me, the staff and the players.
“But we also need to understand that it always takes time to build again from the summer.”
Russell expects big things
Russell admits that injuries haven’t helped the Rooks’ cause heading into the new season, but points to the fact that recent game postponements mean the team is playing catch-up on the promotion places.
And, having played just nine games, Russell says the team is still developing.
“We have to be patient and take chances on people. And that takes time,” says Russell. “We love Joe Taylor who leads the line like a giant and scores for fun, but a few years ago Joe couldn’t get in the Margate side.
“We got him in, coached him up and you see the player he is today. Just like Ollie Tanner, Razz Coleman De-Graft, Deon Moore, Alfie Young, Marcel Elva-Fountaine. These lads are learning the game and developing, but it does take time.
“So we’re going to get these inconsistencies. The lads come in sometimes after not playing a whole lot at their clubs, and we can’t just flick a switch and expect them to understand our game. Jamie Mascoll hasn’t played for 12 weeks, so we’ll see the best of him soon enough.
“What we’re good at here at Lewes is getting players in who need a bit of support – both emotionally and football-wise – and coaching them to be the best they can be. It takes time.
“When they get it they’re amazing. The new five lads can’t yet tune themselves out of the emotional rollercoaster over 90 minutes. The other lads can, and the new boys will learn that.”
Focus on Aveley
Tuesday sees the Rooks host an Aveley side that have taken the Isthmian Premier League by storm following their promotion last season.
Danny Scopes side lost to Carshalton last time out but have beaten the likes of Margate and Potters Bar, and sit fourth in the table.
Discussing Tuesday’s opponents, Russell says: “We’re carrying a win into a real tough run of fixtures and it’s exactly what the boys needed.
“Aveley are up there. They came up last season and have burst into the Isthmian Premier League with real confidence and togetherness, kept the same team together, are used to winning games of football and are flying.
“The manager Scopesy is a good guy and an excellent manager. He got Concord Rangers to Wembley. He has his team well organised and they fight for each other.
“We’ll have to play well, no doubt. But managing is a lot easier when you win, and we’ve won two of our last three. On top of that, even though Herne Bay was a disaster, when you look at the stats we had 22 shots, the majority of possession, there was some good stuff in there to show we’re not a million miles away from what we’re to achieve.
“It’s about focusing the players so they understand that to win a game of football is about more than just passing it around. You’ve got to do the horrible side of the game as well.”
Russell also hopes to see a few familiar faces down at the Pan on Tuesday, including two fans who gave the boys a much-needed boost in the week.
“I had a fan after the Herne Bay game private message me, a guy called Sam and his mate Andrew,” says Russell. “They’re brilliant – they come home and away and support the lads through everything. Sam messaged me after the loss saying negativity won’t work, and we’re all behind you.
“We understand when we let the fans down. I made the players go and shake all the supporters’ hands after the Herne Bay loss and apologise. Because we understand we’re here to get results.
“And that’s what we’re working towards on Tuesday, before attention then turns to our two other home games within the next seven days.”
Lewes FC vs Aveley tickets
The match on Tuesday kicks off at 7:45pm. You can buy Lewes FC tickets for the game online and skip the queue at the gate. Online ticket prices are as follows:
Adults – £12
Concessions – £8
Kids U16 – Free
Beach Huts – £110
Photo: James Boyes