The Rooks grabbed a vital win against 5th placed Folkestone Invicta to keep hopes of a play-off spot well and truly alive, reports Stuart Fuller.
Boss Tony Russell was able to welcome back Razz Coleman De-Graft into the starting eleven, whilst Tom Phipp joined new signing TQ Addy and re-signing Ayo Olukoga on the bench. Kenny Yao replaced Jueven Spencer at right-back who took his place on the sidelines.
Lewes controlled the early stages of the game, with the midfield trio of Pritchard, Klass and Pettit stretching the play. The Rooks took the lead in the 12th minute when Pettit broke down a Folkestone attack before Pritchard played the ball out to Dalling on the left. The Lewes winger cut inside and his shot was deflected off a Folkestone player and sneaked into the corner of the net, via the inside of the post.
The goal sparked the home side into action and they pressed the Rooks back four but it held firm with Salmon and Nelson imperious at times. At the other end only a late flag from the assistant referee denied Joe Taylor a clear sight of goal.
The Rooks doubled their lead in the 40th minutes when a deep free-kick looked like it had eluded everyone but Will Salmon leapt like his proverbial namesake to head home from a very tight angle.
Folkestone reduced the arrears in injury time at the end of the half in controversial circumstances when Scott Heard appeared to net from an offside position on the goal line. The debate continued as the officials left the field at the end of the half but the goal stood.
The home side came out fired up for the second half and created a number of early chances with Lewis Carey being alert to the danger, whilst both Mitchell Nelson and Will Salmon making superb blocks to deny clear Folkestone goal scoring opportunities.
With twenty minutes to go Tony Russell brought on new signing TQ Addy for goal scorer Deshane Dalling as the Rooks looked for a third to kill the game off. Razz Coleman De-Graft waltzed through the home defence but somehow was judged to be offside, whilst sub Ayo Olukoga ran from the Lewes half unopposed but couldn’t find Joe Taylor unmarked in the area.
Folkestone increased the pressure on the Lewes goal as the clock ticked down. As the game entered injury time they had a golden chance when Mitchell Nelson gave away a free-kick 25 yards out but the ball was blasted high and wide.
The win closed the gap between the two sides and sets up an interesting week ahead as both sides have games against Margate and Horsham respectively.
Folkestone Invicta: Roberts, Everitt (Sterling 76 mins), McCann, Newman, Davies, Johnson, Heard, Dolan, Smith, Yusuff, Paxman
Subs not used: Atherton, Borrello, Boateng, Collins
Lewes: Carey, Yao (Spencer 79 mins), Carlse, Salmon, Nelson, Pettit (Olukoga 74 mins), Klass, Pritchard, Dalling (Addy 69 mins), Coleman De-Graft, Taylor
Subs not used: Phipp, Maloney
Booked: Nelson, Dalling
Attendance: 736 (Approx. 55 travelling Rooks)