A trip down White Hart Lane on FA Cup Third Round day? It’s the scenario that Rooks fans get down on their rickety old knees and pray for*. Alas, we weren’t at the Lane to do battle at Tottenham’s shiny new soccer bowl; we were instead required to scrap it out between the shipping containers at neighbouring Haringey Borough in a regular Isthmian Premier League tie.
(* Religious adherence not compulsory; the performance of your prayers may go down as well as up.)
Let’s not waste anyone’s time dissecting the first-half action – chances were spurned at both ends in what was a scrappy and tetchy 45 minutes of football. But if the first half was short-tempered, the second half reached peak petulance after only five minutes, resulting in a pivotal sending off for the hosts’ Dimitri Froxylias.
Your correspondent was busy berating the referee for denying the Rooks a clear advantage, after a late challenge on Tegan Freeman saw the ball squirm to Jordy Mongoy with a free run down the left. However, the ref had bigger fish to fry – and it was nothing to do with the late challenge on Tegan.
Having been denied a penalty moments earlier, Froxylias chased after the referee and laid hands on the official, giving the ref little choice but to halt the action and direct Froxylias to the nearby dressing rooms.
It was a gift for the Rooks and one they weren’t about to return in the January sales. Not that they punished Haringey for their ill-discipline immediately. Billy Medlock slipped a lovely ball through for Jordy Mongoy, but the winger shot the ball well wide when one-on-one with Haringey’s keeper. Then Dayshonne Golding took a high ball with a delectable first touch and squared it to Billy Medlock, whose low shot was well saved by the superb Jonathon Miles. The equally excellent right-back, Callum Ismail, blocked Charlie Coppola’s follow-up shot from close range.
Fears it might be one of those games began to percolate in the away end, not least when Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke was forced to make a sharp save low to his left, and then palm a header off the line from the resulting corner – but the nerves were quickly settled by the only goal of the game in the 69th minute.
A blocked shot bounced out to Charlie Coppola on the edge of the box. Charlie would be egging it if he listed “raw power” among his many attributes on his football CV, but one can only assume the ball insulted Charlie’s mum on the way through to him, as he smacked it with such force that the keeper could merely watch it thunder past him.
After that, it was largely one-way traffic, with the Rooks creating enough chances to win a month’s worth of games but failing to profit further. Golding, Mongoy and Coppola all had more-than-presentable opportunities to seal the three points, but either made a poor decision or found the near-unbreachable Miles in their way.
Still, it was a very satisfactory Rooks performance, not least from our defence – newly reinforced by Stacey Freeman, who returned from a spell of working abroad to replace the injured Alex Malins and arguably put in a man-of-the-match performance. The equally excellent James Hammond might dispute that decision, but as Haringey discovered, there’s nothing to be gained from arguing the toss.
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Day, Redwood, T Freeman, Chappell, S Freeman, Golding, Hammond, Mongoy, Medlock (Ilic, 81), Coppola.
Subs not used: Diedrick-Roberts, Conlon, Yeboah, Reed