An impressive team performance saw Lewes record an excellent 3-1 victory at local rivals Horsham to move back into the play-off places, reports Tom Harper.
Tony Russell made one change to the side that started the previous league game at Bowers & Pitsea just over two weeks ago, with new signing Juevan Spencer replacing Killian Colombie in the starting line-up.
Lewes made a bright start and took the lead after just six minutes through Joe Taylor, who converted a Tom Carlse cross from close range.
The hosts nearly equalised immediately, as Rob O’Toole saw a close-range effort saved by Carey, and Shamir Fenelon was just unable to finish the rebound.
Horsham did level the scores on 12 minutes, Fenelon finishing from inside the six-yard box after good play down the right by Lucas Rodrigues.
There was certainly an element of controversy to the goal though, as Tom Phipp was down with an apparent head injury as the ball was worked out to the right to Rodrigues, and a suggestion that the ball went out of play before he put the cross in, underlined by the reaction of both sets of players when the goal was given.
The Rooks were looking dangerous every time they went forward and regained their lead on 25 minutes, with Taylor sending a superb instinctive finish across Sam Howes and into the bottom corner after good build-up play involving Taylor Maloney and Razz Coleman De-Graft.
Carlse was enjoying an excellent game down the left and nearly claimed his second assist, only for Taylor to head his cross straight at Howes.
Carlse was then denied by Howes himself minutes later after exchanging passes with Iffy Allen, although the linesman’s flag would have disallowed the goal had he found the back of the net.
Horsham were finding it difficult to create any chances of note, with a Harvey Sparks shot straight at Carey being the closest they came to equalising for a second time before the break.
The hosts enjoyed plenty of possession during the early stages of the second half but continued to find clear-cut opportunities hard to come by as the Lewes defence stood firm.
Horsham continued to look dangerous, with Rodrigues seeing a strike from a tight angle deflected over after Fenelon had been unable to control a Tom Richards cross in front of goal.
They were handed a great chance to level the scores midway through the half, as the Lewes defence were unable to clear a deep free-kick and Carlse was adjudged to have tripped a Horsham player in the area.
Fenelon took the penalty, but blasted his spot-kick well wide of Carey’s right-hand post to ensure the Rooks clung on to their one-goal advantage.
This let-off seemed to give the Rooks confidence and they came close to doubling their lead minutes later, with Will Salmon just unable to force a Maloney free-kick over the line at the far post.
De-Graft was the next player to go close for Lewes, forcing a fine save from Howes with a strike from just outside the area.
Horsham unsurprisingly started to commit more players forward in search of a late equaliser, with Carey making a smart stop to deny Rodrigues at the end of an incisive counter-attack.
The Rooks scored a third goal to seal the win with a minute remaining, as Taylor held the ball up superbly before crossing for substitute Deshane Dalling to finish and send the large contingent of travelling fans into raptures.
Lewes nearly scored a spectacular fourth goal deep into stoppage time, as Michael Klass spotted Howes off his line but saw his 40-yard effort drop just wide in the final meaningful action of the game.
This was an excellent result for Lewes, who had to weather a bit of a storm during the early stages of the second half but aside from that, managed the game superbly and picked up a thoroughly deserved three points.
Highlights of the game can be viewed here.
The Rooks will hope to build on this result when they welcome Bognor Regis Town to the Pan for their first game of 2022 on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Horsham: Howes, Sessegnon (Miles 79), Sparks, Tuck, Dudley, Brivio, Rodrigues, Hester-Cook (Day 68), Fenelon (D’Sane 74), O’Toole, Richards.
Unused Subs: Metcalf, Charman.
Lewes: Carey, Spencer, Carlse, Salmon, Nelson, Klass, Phipp (Pritchard 52), Maloney (Weaire 90), Allen (Dalling 63), De-Graft, Taylor.
Unused Subs: Colombie, Parker.
Attendance: 1,284 (approx 150 Rooks fans)