Written by: Jack
Lewes were forced to settle for a point against ten-man Cray Wanderers at the Pan, as an entertaining game ended in a 0-0 draw.
Tony Russell named an unchanged side after Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Folkestone Invicta, with the Rooks looking to continue their unbeaten run and close the gap on the play-off places.
Cray made a bright start to the game and could have taken an early lead through Dan Bassett, who intercepted a loose pass from Tom Champion on the edge of the area before drawing a smart save from Lewis Carey.
Lewes started to see more of the ball as the half progressed but were struggling to turn this into clear-cut chances, a Bradley Pritchard strike from inside the six-yard box that went wide being the closest they came to opening the scoring early on
Pritchard was taking up some dangerous positions running in behind Joe Taylor and forced Shaun Rowley into action from a tight angle as the Rooks pushed for a breakthrough.
The visitors finished the half strongly, with Carey having to be alert to help an overhit cross from Kellen Fisher over the bar, before racing off his line minutes later to deny Bassett after the dangerous winger had been played through on goal.
Lewes made a bright start to the second half, Razz Coleman De-Graft running in behind before being denied by Rowley from a difficult angle.
Cray continued to look dangerous in the final third though, with Carey reacting well to palm away a dangerous low centre from Bassett and then pushing another mis-hit cross, this time from Sinn’kaye Christie, over the bar.
The visitors were enjoying their best spell of the game and Nyren Clunis was the next player to go close, making space for himself in the box before slicing his effort wide with only Carey to beat.
The Cray pressure continued, Carey once again making a fine save, diving to his right to keep out a powerful long-range strike from Harrison Sodje.
Lewes soon enjoyed some brief respite, De-Graft cutting inside from the left before seeing his strike deflected narrowly wide of the near post.
The visitors dealt well with the resulting corner and launched a swift counter-attack, which ended with Bassett playing Ben Krauhaus in behind and Carey having to be quick off his line again to save well.
The Rooks were handed an advantage on 64 minutes as Cray were reduced to ten men, Mitch Chapman shown a straight red card for lunging into a challenge on Tyrique Hyde.
Lewes looked to make the most of their numerical advantage immediately, Rowley saving well from De-Graft, whose influence on the game was growing with each passing minute.
Despite being a man down, the visitors continued to pose a threat on the break, and saw Bassett head a Nyren Clunis cross wide when well placed in front of goal.
Bassett went close again minutes later, cutting inside from the right before seeing his shot from a central position pushed wide by Carey.
Lewes soon enjoyed their best spell of the game as they pushed for a winner heading into the final ten minutes, Rowley reacting superbly to turn a deflected De-Graft strike behind for a corner.
He made another fine save to deny substitute Deshane Dalling soon after, as a loose ball inadvertently played the winger through on goal.
Fellow substitute Jack Skinner was the next player to go close, volleying straight at Rowley after Joe Taylor had helped a Marcel Elva-Fountaine cross into his path.
Lewes enjoyed a lot of possession during six minutes of injury-time but were unable to create another opportunity and could even have been on the end of a late sucker punch, as Anthony Cook saw his long-range effort go narrowly wide, leaving both sides to settle for a point.
The Rooks take a break from league action when they welcome Worthing to the Pan in the Sussex Senior Cup second round on Tuesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.
Lewes: Carey, Elva-Fountaine, Mascoll, Champion, Salmon, Young, Hyde, Pritchard (Skinner 61), Murrell-Williamson (Dalling 71), De-Graft, Taylor.
Unused Subs: Nelson, Olukoga, Renee.
Booked: Young, Hyde, Dalling.
Cray Wanderers: Rowley, Fisher, Skeffington, Jones, Bassett (Wood 90), Krauhaus (Cook 65), Derry, Clunis (Bamba 77), Christie, Chapman, Sodje.
Unused Subs: Ademiluyi, Ando.
Booked: Sodje, Cook.
Sent off: Chapman.
Photo Credit: James Boyes