A hardworking performance saw Lewes pick up a well-deserved point from a 0-0 draw against second-place Folkestone Invicta at the Pan, reports Tom Harper.
Ross Standen and Tony Coade made one change to the side that won 2-0 at Bishop’s Stortford in their previous game, with Charlie Coppola replacing Michael Dome-Bemwin, who was absent due to a reaction to having his wisdom teeth removed earlier in the week, in the starting line-up.
The visitors started the game brightly and saw Ronnie Dolan shoot wide after good work down the right by Ira Jackson as they looked to ensure their early dominance was reflected on the scoreboard.
Lewes grew into the game as the half progressed and without creating any clear-cut opportunities, more than matched their promotion-chasing opponents.
Despite this, the best chances of the half fell to Folkestone, who saw Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke tip a powerful Jerson Dos Santos strike over the bar, before producing a fine double-save to deny Dolan and Dos Santos just minutes later.
Lewes’ best chance of the half fell to James Hammond, whose half-volley was helped round the post by Henry Newcombe in the Folkestone goal after a Stefan Ilic corner found him unmarked on the edge of the area.
The Lewes management team made two changes at half-time, with Jordy Mongoy, struggling with a hamstring injury and Tegan Freeman replaced by Kane Diedrick-Roberts and Peter Gregory. The visitors had the first chance of the second half, but once again found Stroomberg-Clarke in fine form, as he made a smart save to deny Dos Santos once again.
The Rooks introduced Billy Medlock in place of the injured Charlie Coppola, who was taken to hospital with a nasty gash on his shin, eight minutes after the restart and immediately enjoyed their best spell of the game, playing the ball quickly through midfield and stretching the Folkestone back four.
They very nearly took the lead during this period, as Dayshonne Golding cut in from the left and sent a superb curling effort from a difficult angle just wide of the far post.
Medlock was the next player to go close for Lewes, heading a Leon Redwood corner over the bar at the near post.
The visitors nearly made the most of this let-off, as Jackson capitalised on some hesitant defending by Malins and rounded Stroomberg-Clarke before seeing his attempt blocked by a combination of Redwood and Malins.
Lewes continued to look dangerous themselves though, and saw substitute Peter Gregory denied by a smart save from Newcombe low down to his right after Folkestone had been unable to clear a Redwood corner.
The final ten minutes saw Folkestone see more of the ball and they came close to a winner when a dangerous corner ended with a goalbound effort being blocked and the rebound being deflected wide by some heroic Lewes defending.
The visitors finished the game with ten men as Scott Heard was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time, but it was too late for the Rooks to look to capitalise on their numerical advantage, and both sides were left to settle for a point.
This was an impressive performance from Lewes, who more than matched Folkestone for long periods and could even have won the game themselves in the second half.
After the game, Ross Standen spoke to Barry Collins about the game.
Next up for the Rooks is a trip to Chichester City in the third round of the Sussex Senior Cup on Wednesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Day, Redwood, Freeman (Diedrick-Roberts 46mins), Chappell, Malins, Golding, Hammond, Mongoy (Gregory 46mins), Coppola (Medlock 53mins), Ilic.
Unused Sub: Yeboah.
Booked: Hammond, Ilic, Medlock.
Folkestone Invicta: Newcombe, Vincent, Paxman, Newman, Davies, Hasler (Ter Horst 61mins), Heard, Dolan, Jackson, Dos Santos, McCann.
Unused Subs: O’Mara, Everitt, Blanks, Roberts.
Booked: Jacskon, Heard.
Sent off: Heard.
Referee: Sean Jenkins
Attendance: 565 (Approx. 30 Folkestone Invicta fans)