Lewes overcame a solid Merthyr Town side in the FA Trophy thanks to first-half goals from James Hammond and Luke Blewden, reports Stuart Fuller.
Boss Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that lost at Kingstonian last week with Steve Brinkhurst coming back into the starting XI to replace Tom Day after his paternity leave, whilst Luke Blewden replaced Dan Darbyshire.
Despite the torrential rain overnight, the pitch was immaculate as the two sides started the game. Both teams looked to get the ball behind the full-backs with the Lewes back-four certainly the busier in the opening periods. A succession of free-kicks around the Lewes box proved a good test for the back-four who coped admirably with the aerial threat of the visitors.
However, it was the Rooks who made a free-kick count in the 13th minute after Omarr Lawson was fouled on the edge of the box. James Hammond saw an opportunity to curl the ball around the wall and with the Merthyr keeper unsighted, it flew into the corner of the net. Within 90 seconds the visitors had their best chance when a Jarrad Wright header was saved at the second attempt by Lewis Carey as Jones looked to pounce.
At the other end a superb run and cross from full-back Henri Wilder was headed narrowly wide by Jonte Smith and then the Bermudan had a great chance wide on the left of goal, fed by Omarr Lawson but his shot flashed narrowly wide.
The Rooks had their second in the 40th minute when another marauding run from Lawson was stopped on the edge of the area but Luke Blewden smashed the free ball goal-wards that Perry could only parry up in the air and almost in slow-motion, the ball bounced over the line.
The second half saw the visitors come out with a new determination and dominate early possession. On one of the rare early attacks from the Rooks, Ronnie Conlon took on his man and as the ball neared the by-line, he fell and immediately looked in severe distress. After lengthy treatment on the pitch the young Lewes midfielder left the field on a stretcher although thankfully it appears his injury isn’t as bad as first feared.
Carey was the busier of the two keepers in the second half, making a couple of smart saves from Jones and Harries, whilst in the dying minutes the visitors had a big shout for a penalty as Jones was bundled over. However, the referee saw nothing wrong in the challenge and shortly after brought the game to a close.
Overall, an impressive defensive performance from the Rooks who fully deserve their place in Monday’s draw for the next round.
Post-match Barry Collins spoke to Darren Freeman about the performance.
The Rooks host Haringey Borough next Saturday at The Pan in the Bostik League Premier Division as they look to keep up the pressure on the top of the table.
Lewes: Carey, Brinkhurst, Wilder, Dome-Bemwim, Chappell, Freeman, Blewden (Gifford – 89 mins), Hammond, Smith (Elliott – 79 mins), Conlon (Reed – 56 mins), Lawson
Subs not used: Day, Appau
Merthyr Town: Perry, McConnell, Wright, Young, Davies, Harries, Lewis, Lucas, Jones, Meechan, Traylor