A lacklustre display saw Lewes suffer a 2-1 derby defeat at Hastings United, reports Tom Harper.
After going nearly three weeks without a game, Tony Russell handed starts to Tyrique Hyde and Ryan Gondoh in place of Bradley Pritchard and TQ Addy.
Lewes moved the ball well early on and came close to taking the lead through Joe Taylor, who dragged an effort just wide from the edge of the area.
Hastings soon grew into the game though, and went in front with their first chance on ten minutes, as Ben Pope saw a powerful close-range strike saved by Lewis Carey after Lewes had been unable to clear a deep free-kick, only for the loose ball to fall to Jahmal Hector-Ingram, who had time and space to take a touch and steady himself before finding the bottom corner.
The hosts kept Lewes at bay comfortably for the next 20 minutes or so, defending well and always looking capable of creating chances on the break.
The Rooks gradually began to pose more of a threat heading into the closing stages of the half, Louis Rogers making a smart save to deny Taylor, before Razz Coleman De-Graft saw his effort on the rebound blocked.
Carey had to be alert at the other end minutes later to keep out a powerful long-range strike from Pope.
Lewes were soon enjoying their best spell of the game and saw Taylor force another fine save from Rogers at the end of a sweeping move down the right.
The resulting corner, taken by Jamie Mascoll, was clipped to the edge of the area to De-Graft, who saw his powerful strike take a slight deflection on its way past Rogers and into the back of the net to level the scores on 37 minutes.
Hastings made a bright start to the second half and came close to regaining their lead within minutes of the restart, Hector-Ingram cutting in from the left before seeing his effort saved by the legs of Carey.
The hosts went back in front on 57 minutes through Sam Hasler, whose free-kick from the edge of the area took a deflection and flew past Carey and into the bottom corner.
This still left Lewes with plenty of time to respond for a second time, but despite enjoying the majority of the ball, they were unable to get in behind the host’s defence and force Rogers into any meaningful action.
The best of the few chances that were created fell to Hastings on the break, with Carey called into action to superbly tip a Sam Adams strike round the post.
The closest Lewes came to equalising late on saw a Ryan Gondoh cross turned over the bar from almost on the goal-line by the covering Jake Elliott, and Tyrique Hyde then sent a volley comfortably over the bar deep into stoppage time, leaving the Rooks to reflect on a disappointing second half and a derby defeat on Boxing Day.
Lewes will hope to put this result behind them when they welcome Bognor Regis Town to the Pan on the 2nd January, kick-off at 3pm.
Hastings United: Rogers, Worrall, Stone, Chalmers, Dixon, Pope (Adams 67), Hasler, Brefo, Penn, Hector-Ingram (Hull 85), Elliott.
Unused Subs: O’Mara, Moynes, Scott.
Booked: Worrall, Pope, Adams.
Lewes: Carey, Renee, Champion, Salmon (Pritchard 74), Mascoll (Addy 77), Young, Olukoga, Pritchard, Gondoh, De-Graft, Taylor.
Unused Subs: Hall, Moore.
Attendance: 1,677 (Approx. 150 Rooks)