The Rooks extended their unbeaten start to the Bostik League South season with a hard-fought victory in testing conditions at The Dripping Pan, writes Stuart Fuller.
Darren Freeman welcomed back James Hammond from suspension and also gave a home debut to Frankie Chappell, although he lost Alex Marlins due to injury early on Saturday morning. Another welcome return to the starting XI was Charlie Coppola. With Tuesday’s game at Shoreham in mind, Darren rotated his attacking options with Jamie Brotherton starting up front, supported by Ronnie Conlon on the left.
It was the visitors who started the game strongly, with the movement of the attacking duo of Pogue and Grant causing the Rooks defence problems, whilst Chris Winterton had to be alert from a number of crosses in from the right. However, the Rooks slowly took control of the game with James Hammond breaking up frequent Hythe Town attacks, whilst Ronnie Conlon was finding success down the left-hand side.
It was Conlon who provided the magic in the 24th minute and opened the scoring when he cut in from the left-hand side and curled a low cross into the danger area. Jamie Brotherton threw himself at the ball which fooled Godman in the Hythe goal and the nestled in the far corner.
The Rooks took control of the remainder of a niggly first half which saw the game broken up by fouls and were unlucky not to score a second when Conlon’s shot from the edge of the area was well tipped over by Godmon.
The second half saw the visitors make a change up front, Pogue being replaced by Chapman as the rain clouds gathered over The Pan. The Rooks started to stretch the play and dominated possession, but couldn’t quite find that final ball. The away sides frustration was summed up by three cautions in less than three minutes, the final one for a foul by Aboagye on Coppola right on the edge of the area. His resulting clever free-kick almost caught Godmon unawares at his near post.
The torrential rain made conditions tough for both sides but The Rooks continued to look for a second goal. However, it was the visitors who had the best chances with first Brotherton blocking a goal-bound strike then a post keeping out Ryan Johnson’s header. Freeman threw on Jonté Smith, replacing Jamie Brotherton to a standing ovation but once again the visitors looked the more dangerous.
In the final minute of the game Chappell conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box in a central position. The four hundred strong crowd watched through their fingers as the resulting free-kick sailed over Winterton’s bar and less than a minute later the referee blew for full-time and the Rooks had all three points, although they certainly knew they’d been in a game.
The win takes the Rooks level on points at the top of the table, albeit potentially for just 24 hours. Post-match Darren was understandably pleased with the effort of the team when he spoke to Barry Collins.
The Rooks head down the A27 on Tuesday night to face Bostik League South new boys Shoreham, kick off 7:45pm before returning to The Pan for next Saturday’s game against Cray Wanderers.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George, Hammond, Cotton, Chappell, Williams-Bowers, Bosma, Brotherton (Smith – 83 mins), Coppola, Conlon (Landais – 90 mins)
Subs not used: Reed, MacDevitt, Robinson
Booked: Chappell, Brotherton, Bosma
Hythe Town: Godmon, Aboagye, Wilson, Dickensen, (Palmer – 64 mins), Johnson, Johnson-Palmer, Cook, Miller, Grant, Pogue (Chapman – 46 mins), Campbell (Sollis – 73 mins)
Subs not used: Webster, Gillett
Booked: Aboagye, Wilson, Campbell, Johnson, Chapman