A superb second-half performance saw Lewes come from two down to grab a deserved winner in injury-time at Brightlingsea Regent, reports Stuart Fuller.
Boss Darren Freeman was forced into changes from last week’s FA Cup defeat against Bowers & Pitsea with Alex Malins coming in to replace Stacey Freeman, who announced during the week that he has left the club for work reasons and Dquame Copeland replacing the injured Tom Day. Other tactical changes saw Michael Onovwigun and Jordy Mongoy come into the starting XI with Kayne Diedrick-Roberts and Ola Adeyemo dropping to the bench.
The opening exchanges were very even with both sides happy to try to find an opening with a strong cross-field wind to contend with. The first real chance fell to Michael Dome-Bemwin in the eighth minute when his shot from 25 yards had the keeper scrambling across his goal. However, the home side took the lead five minutes later in bizarre circumstances after a free-kick was headed home by centre-back Matt Cripps, with the ball coming off the back of his head, as he jumped for the ball.
The Rooks almost had an equaliser when a Hammo free-kick was tapped on by Michael Onovwigun but the keeper made a smart save. But once again, the Rooks were made to pay for not taking their chances when the hosts doubled their lead in the 35th minute.
Nathan Stroomberg’s miscalculated pass went straight to a Brightlingsea player and from the subsequent attack Hunt hit the post. The rebound wasn’t properly cleared, eventually finding right-back Griggs on the half-way line. He skipped past two Lewes challenges as he surged forward then picked his spot, putting the ball in the corner of the Lewes net. It was a great goal but questions will be asked by Darren and his team as to how the players was allowed to cut through the Rooks midfield and defence without challenge.
The Rooks should have got a goal back just before the half-time break when a surging run by Dayshonne Golding and a beautiful cross fell perfectly for Peter Gregory but he volleyed over with the goal at his mercy.
Half-time 2-0 and things looked bleak but the Rooks came out fired up. After Nathan Stroomberg had to make a finger-tip save in the 55th minute, it was all Lewes. Dayshonne Golding, always looking a threat, reduced the score to 2-1 when he cut inside from the left-hand side and drilled the ball into the corner of the net.
The Rooks had their tails up at this point and were looking at getting the ball into the Brightlingsea box at any point. The equaliser eventually came in the 82nd minute when a Box clearance from almost in the Lewes corner was flicked on and Mongoy’s flick send substitute Ola Adeymo haring down the left-hand side. He looked to find the en-rushing Rooks players but his cross was handled by a Regent defender and the referee pointed to the spot. Kayne Diedrick-Roberts stepped up and slotted home his second penalty in successive games, calmly rolling the ball into the right-hand corner of the net.
With the referee indicating there would be two minutes of injury-time to be played, a Brightingsea move broke down deep in the Lewes half and James Hammond immediately hit a long ball behind the full-back for Jordy Mongoy to run onto and his hard and low first time cross was met at the near post by Ola Adeyemo to give the Rooks the lead for the first time in the game.
The final few minutes were played out in the Lewes half with the Rooks learning their lesson from the recent 3-3 draw at home to Potter’s Bar Town. The final whistle was met with a mixture of relief and celebration for what had been a superb second half display.
The Rooks fans don’t have to wait long for our next game, heading to bogey team Carshalton Athletic for another Isthmian League Premier Division on Monday night, kick-off 7:45pm
Brightlingsea Regent: C Turner, Griggs, Lindoe, J Turner, Gould, Cripps, Yaxley (A Howell – 74 mins), Doyle, Hunt, L Howell, Dunne (Berkane – 75 mins)
Subs not used: Hampson, Boyland
Lewes: Stroomberg, Copeland, Box (Adeyemo – 78 mins), Dome-Bemwin, Chappell, Malins, Golding, Hammond, Gregory (Diedrick-Roberts 60 mins), Onovwigun (Ilic – 65 mins), Mongoy
Subs not used: Bloor, Redwood
Attendance: 146 – 25 Rooks fans