Lewes had to dig deep on Saturday to grab a point against a strong Greenwich Borough side, extending their lead at the top of the table on a day when the closing pack all dropped points, reports Stuart Fuller.
Darren Freeman was able to choose from his strongest possible squad with Bouwe Bosma returning from suspension and James Hammond shaking off the knock that forced him off against Phoenix Sports in midweek.
This was always going to be one of the toughest away trips of the season, but The Rooks took heart from their unbeaten record in the league on the road this season and once again a healthy and vocal away support, although there was little for the fans to cheer about in the first half as most of the action was taking place at the other end of the pitch. Greenwich looked to stretch the impressive Lewes back four, forcing half a dozen corners in the opening period although bar a deflected Jack Barham effort needed Chris Winterton’s close attention. At the other end Steve Brinkhurst was probably a little bit too honest when he was tackled from behind in the box, choosing to try to chase the ball which saw it go out for a goal-kick.
Bouwe Bosma was cautioned in the 40th minute for a legitimate challenge, whilst various late tackles from the Borough players went unpunished. In the last minute of the half, both Ronnie Conlon and Bosma required treatment, although much to the confusion of all of those watching, bar the referee, only Bouwe was asked to leave the field.
It was much of the same in the opening fifteen minutes of the second period with Frankie Chappell and Lloyd Cotton wearing their teflon armour, repelling everything thrown at them. At the other end, vocal keeper Kamurasi decided that Charlie was a movable object in the way of his path to punch a ball and flattened the Lewes player before he made contact with the ball but the referee deemed that was a legitimate challenge. Still shaken by the challenge a few minutes later, Coppola made way for Jamie Brotherton.
Five minutes later the home side took the lead. Gus Sow was penalised for handling the ball on the floor, despite no appeals from the home side and the quick free-kick saw the ball delivered into the box and Chinedu McKenzie rose above the Rooks defence to head into the bottom corner of the net. The Rooks now faced their biggest test of the season and Darren Freeman brought on George Landais and Jonte Smith in the next ten minutes to change the tempo of the game.
Freeman was sent from the dugout in the 80th minute after a disagreement with the officials on the reaction of 6ft 6in keeper Kamurasi to a coming together with Billy Medlock. The decision seemed to spur the Rooks into another gear. A free-kick from wide on the Lewes left was perfectly delivered by James Hammond onto the head of Jonte Smith who diverted it back across the goal and time seemed to stand still before George Landais popped up at the far post to squeeze it in.
Lewes sensed a winner and could have very easily had it. Landais hooked a ball wide at the far post whilst Brotherton superbly controlled a long ball over the full-back put pulled his shot wide. For the first time in the game it was the home side having to defend deep and look to clear the ball wherever they could but after six minutes of injury time had been played, the referee called time and both sides had to settle for a hard-fought draw.
Make no mistake, Greenwich Borough are one of the top sides in the division and will surely be there or there about’s at the end of the season so to grab a point in the end was a good result for the Rooks.
Post-match, Darren Freemen was very pleased with the performance and the point when he spoke to Barry Collins.
Attention turns to the cup on Tuesday when the Rooks travel to Pagham for the Third Round of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup, kick off 7:30pm.
Greenwich Borough: Kamurasi, Carlse, King-Elliott, Phillips, Macdonald, Barham, McKenzie (Gregory – 74mins), Beere (Fuseine – 63 mins), Hickey, Pritchard, Corne
Subs not used: Paul, Clark, Dembele
Booked: Barham, Corne, Hickey
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George (Smith – 79mins), Hammond, Chappell, Cotton, Bosma (Landais – 74 mins), Sow, Medlock, Conlon, Coppola (Brotherton – 63 mins)
Subs not used: Hurley, Reed
Booked: Bosma, Cotton
Attendance: 105 (31 Lewes)