Lewes produced arguably their best performance of the season so far to return to winning ways with an impressive 3-1 victory over local rivals Hastings United at the Pan, reports Tom Harper, with pictures from James Boyes.
Tony Russell made three changes to the side that lost 3-0 at Chatham Town in their previous game, with Ayo Olukoga, Bradley Pritchard and new signing Marcus Sablier, who has joined the Rooks on loan from Bromley until January, replacing Kieran Murtagh, Alfie Egan and Chris Whelpdale.
These changes saw a slight reshuffle, with Olukoga starting at right-back, which allowed Jake Elliott to move into the centre alongside Ronnie Vint, and Arthur Penney to slot into a holding midfield role.
Lewes started brightly, moving the ball quickly through the pitch to put pressure on the Hastings defence early on.
Their first chance fell to Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala, who saw his powerful strike at the end of a mazy run saved by Charlie Grainger.
The Rooks took the lead on 15 minutes, as a short corner taken quickly on the right was only cleared as far as Elliott, who sent an unstoppable effort past Grainger and into the corner to score his first Lewes goal against his former club.
Lewes nearly doubled their lead almost immediately, Deon Moore doing well to find space down the right before hitting the side-netting from a tight angle.
The visitors nearly made the most of this as a rare foray forward ended with them winning a free-kick 25 yards out, which Dom Vose curled just wide.
The Rooks doubled their lead on 22 minutes, Tommy Wood reacting quickest to head home from almost on the line after Moore had headed a Pritchard corner from the right against the bar.
Lewes were controlling the game at this stage, keeping the ball well and always looking capable of winning it back with their high press if they lost possession.
They were continuing to create chances too, with Lumbombo-Kalala just missing the target after good play down the left, before debutant Sablier tested Grainger at his near post from a similar position.
Hastings ended the first half strongly though, and pulled a goal back two minutes before the break, as a corner was only cleared as far as Adam Lovatt on the edge of the area, and he managed to steer his half-volley through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner.
The visitors very nearly levelled the scores right on half-time, as Vint’s attempted header behind at another corner ended up hitting his own post before being scrambled clear.
Hastings made a bright start to the second half and enjoyed their best spell of the game at this stage, with a Sam Okoye cross-shot from the right flashing across the face of goal, before Tyler Christian-Law had a powerful strike deflected over.
Their best chance, and what would prove to be a decisive moment in the game, saw Femi Akinwande force a superb save from Nathan Harvey with a close-range effort.
This seemed to galvanise Lewes, who regained control of the game, with Moore drawing a similarly fine save from Grainger at the end of a sweeping move.
The Rooks regained their two goal advantage on 61 minutes, as a corner was taken quickly down the right and patiently worked into the centre, where Sablier teed up Vint to send an exquisite curling strike from the edge of the area past Grainger and into the bottom corner.
Lewes managed the game well for much of the last half-an-hour, controlling possession and playing with a real confidence.
The Rooks continued to look capable of adding to their lead, with Wood sending a shot on the turn just over at the end of another incisive passing move.
Hastings briefly threatened a comeback late on, substitute Davide Rodari seeing a deflected strike loop over Harvey and hit the top of the bar, before Freddie Legg dragged a presentable chance wide of the far post.
This was the only scare Lewes had during the closing stages though, and they could have added further gloss to the score-line through Wood, who did superbly to beat Craig Stone to a long ball down the right before almost appearing to lose his footing at the crucial moment and missing the target with only Grainger to beat.
Lewes saw out the closing stages comfortably to record a superb victory, sending the majority of the 715-strong crowd home happy.
The Rooks welcome National League South side Hampton & Richmond Borough to the Pan in the FA Cup third qualifying round on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Harvey, Olukoga, Vint, Elliott, Hughes, Penney (Murtagh 90), Pritchard, Sablier (Tamplin 85), Moore, Lumbombo-Kalala (Dalling 68), Wood.
Unused Subs: Egan, Salmon.
Booked: Vint, Sablier.
Hastings United: Grainger, Okoye (Taylor 86), Akehurst, Fregene, Stone, Vose, Akinwande, Ufuah (Legg 70), Oyebola (Rodari 52), Lovatt, Christian-Law.
Unused Subs: LeBlond, Lubanga.