Lewes manager Tony Russell says there’s no room for error when his side host Brightlingsea at the Dripping Pan on Saturday after admitting the players can do even better than the 3-0 victory over Merstham last weekend.
Lewes sit third in the Isthmian Premier League heading into their 26th game of the season on Saturday, while Brightlingsea claimed their first win of 2022 last time out.
Victory in front of another roaring crowd at the Pan could move the Rooks up to second place.
Yet Russell is wary of the threat Brightlingsea could bring on Saturday and has warned his troops to be on their game.
“I felt as a whole we weren’t at our best (against Merstham),” says the boss.
“We were slow moving the ball, felt the enthusiasm wasn’t quite there. Merstham had more spring in their step, which maybe meant the game was more tricky than it needed to be.
“I thought we deserved to win the game but perhaps the scoreline flattered us a little bit. At half time I wasn’t overly impressed, even a little bit angry. And at full time as well we were a little disappointed.
‘We can do better’
“But what I won’t ever do is not enjoy winning! I said that to the players. The moment you take for granted that feeling of winning football matches, it comes and bites you in the bum.
“Of course we enjoyed it and we congratulated the boys on a job well done – but I honestly think we can do it better.
“We can play better. We can learn off this, as we had certain individuals perhaps going through the motions a little bit.
“There’s no-one in this league who we can just turn up against and go through the motions and dominate. But hopefully it is a lesson learned.”
Impressed by Brightlingsea resolve
Lewes beat Brightlingsea 4-0 at North Road back in September and the R’s have since appointed Brett Munyard as their new boss.
Regent beat Potters Bar 2-0 on Tuesday to end a run of four straight defeats.
And Russell, who watched the game live, says he was quick to take note of what he saw.
“I was really impressed with their togetherness and work rate,” says Russell.
“It’s one of the things I then said to the boys at training – if you don’t watch their enthusiasm and work rate you’ll get beat, simple as that.
“It’s the basics of football and we understand that, but I didn’t think we gave Merstham the respect they deserved. We managed to win but we made it hard work, and we cannot do that. Lessons have to be learned.
“Brightlingsea are down there at that end of the table, a manager has come in and he’s obviously got a great togetherness now. They’re fighting.
“We have to match that. If we meet their enthusiasm and add a sprinkle of quality in there then we’ll have enough. But if we don’t then it’s going to be a tricky day.”
Russell also admits he is having to contend with a couple of injuries heading into Saturday’s 3pm kick off.
“The main concern coming into the game is we’ve picked up a few injuries. Bradley Pritchard’s strained his hamstring, Taylor Maloney’s got a sore ankle and one of the boys is unwell at the moment, so I don’t think he’ll be there on Saturday,” adds the boss.
“Obviously we’ve let Freddie and Ayo Olukoga go out on loan, and it’s left us a little bit short.
“So we’ve fired up Adam Drew, our guy in the management team. He’s been busy at work and can hopefully bring in one or two before the weekend. We’ll let Adam crack on with that.
“Again, last weekend the crowd were brilliant. Very vocal – we can hear you! It looked like you were all having a great time, especially in the second half.
“I’ve said to the players to keep enjoying themselves, keep playing with freedom and enjoy it. And that goes to everyone in the stands – keep enjoying it, keep singing and creating that great atmosphere for us to come and play. So please keep coming in your numbers.”
Lewes vs Brightlingsea Regent tickets
Lewes FC tickets for the game, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, are available to buy online (at a discount) or on the gate.
Ticket prices on the gate are as follows:
Adults – £12 general admittance
Concessions – £8 general admittance
Kids (under 16) – free!
Beach hut for six people – £99