A battling performance on a wet and windy night at league leaders Bowers & Pitsea saw the Rooks gain their first point of the season, reports Stuart Fuller.
Manager Hugo Langton made a number of enforced and tactical changes from the side that lost heavily at Wingate & Finchley on Saturday. With Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke suspended, Mitchell Beeney, formerly at Hartlepool United, answered an 11th hour call and donned the number 1 shirt, whilst Luke Blewden, Nic D’Arienzo and Fintan Walsh came into the side at the expense of Leon Redwood, Merrick James-Lewis and Kiran Khinda-John.
The Rooks started the game solidly, with a clear game plan to let the home side have the ball in midfield and try the ball over the top or behind the full-backs. With James Beresford and Fintan Walsh keeping their markers tight, and Luke Blewden marshalling the midfield, chances were thin on the ground. In fact, it took 20 minutes for either keeper to make a save, with Beeney finally being called into action to easily save a shot from distance from Bentley.
The major talking point of the first half came in the 29th minute when a Lewes corner was allowed to bounce in the area and the ball struck a Bowers & Pitsea arm. Definitely unintentional, and very little the blind-sided defender could do about it but the referee gave the spot kick which was calmly slotted home by Aaron Cosgrave for his fourth goal of the season.
The Rooks comfortably saw out the first half as the rain lashed down, making the 3G surface even faster for the ball which both teams at times struggled to manage.
The home side came out energised and forced an early save from Beeney at his near post. Soon after Bowers & Pitsea brought on the experienced James White into the middle of the park and his introduction changed the game. He forced a brilliant save in the 67th minute from Beeney with a shot from the edge of the area and was constantly looking to put the ball behind the Lewes back five. But the Rooks held firm until the 75th minute when it was their turn to be on the end of a harsh handball decision, with Nic D’Arienzo penalised for the ball hitting his arm from a short three yards away. Billy Knott stepped up and beat Beeney to level the scores.
The home side piled on the pressure and put Lewes under serious pressure but the defence held firm to grab a point.
After the game, Hugo spoke about the last seventy two hours and the performance.
The Rooks will take heart from the performance as they go into the game on Saturday against Margate at The Pan, kick-off 3pm.
Bowers & Pitsea: Joseph-Johnson, Bentley, Stephen, Cornhill, Leahy, Monville, Millar (White), Knott, Wind, Thomas (McKenzie 75mins), Trendall (Shilling 87mins)
Subs not used: McCoy, Dicks
Lewes: Beeney, Walsh, Beresford, Bosma, Frimpong, D’Arienzo, Santos, Blewden (James-Lewis 80mins), Cosgrave (Owusu-Nepaul 90mins), Arthurs, Bolarinwa (Conlon 60mins)
Subs not used: Redwood, Wakley
Referee: Jamie Pope