It was a bad day at the office for Darren Freeman’s men as despite dominating possession, they fell to a 2-1 defeat at lowly Harlow Town, reports Stuart Fuller.
The Lewes boss was forced to shuffle his side, with Stacey Freeman unavailable, bringing back Dayshonne Golding into the starting line-up, with Tom Day moving across to partner Frankie Chappell in the centre of the defence against a team that had beaten lead-leaders Haringey Borough two weeks ago.
The 3G pitch caused the Rooks problems in the opening exchanges, with passes being over-hit as they looked to spread the ball wide. The first real opportunity fell to the Rooks as Omarr Lawson burst through the middle of the home defence, holding off the challenges of the defence. His shot from 12 yards was parried by Bexon into the path of Dayshonne Golding but his shot hit the outside of the post and bounced behind.
Harlow were forced into an early change when full-back Paul Rodgers couldn’t continue and his replacement Bill Plumpton was immediately left on his back-side as Leon Redwood went on a mazy run into the area but his cross-cum-shot was deflected behind for a corner.
The Rooks struggled to really dominate the midfield that has been our strength this season, with passes going astray, whilst the home side looked to play the ball long behind the Lewes full-backs. However, Lawson had another golden chance on the 25 minute mark when he outpaced the defence again but pulled his shot wide when he was one on one with the keeper.
In injury-time at the end of the half both sides had golden chances to take the lead. Firstly Harlow’s Koranteng blasted over the bar from six yards out after the ball had flown over the Rooks defence and then at the other end Dayshonne’s superb run and cross eluded everyone at the near post but Lawson mistimed his jump and the ball skidded off the top of his head.
Darren Freeman made a change at half-time, replacing Olu Oluwatimilehin with Michael Dome-Bemwin and was then forced to make a second substitution within five minutes as Luke Blewden limped off, replaced by Jonte Smith, although Blewden had the opportunity seconds before to opening the scoring after another surging Dayshonne Golding run which ended up with the ball in the side netting.
Just after the hour mark the talking point of the game arrived. A Harlow player broke free of Tom Day and the Rooks defender appeared to pull his man to the ground. The Referee wasn’t sure whether it was inside the box or out and after a long consultation with his assistant, he awarded a penalty although Day could count himself lucky that the card he saw was yellow rather than red as he was the covering defender. Nathan Koranteng stepped up and sent Lewis Carey the wrong way to open the scoring.
The Rooks response was immediate as Leon Redwood’s scorching shot could only be parried by the Harlow keeper into the path of Golding and he made no mistake from the rebound. The positivity of the goal was tempered a few minutes later when Redwood went down, appearing to catching his studs on the turf as he turned, and he limped off the pitch.
With only attacking options left on the bench, Darren Freeman had to further reshuffle the left-hand side but it was down the right that the Harlow winner came as the Rooks allowed the hosts far too much time on the ball and when it was delivered to the far post Richardson was on hand to guide the ball into the corner of the net.
With the game deep into injury time it looked as if the Rooks had grabbed a point, when Jonte Smith’s toe-poke looked to be heading into the corner but somehow Harlow’s keeper Bexon clawed at the ball and diverted around the post. The resulting corner saw Lewis Carey in the mix and the ball was headed goal-wards but again the keeper was alive to it, pushing the ball onto an on-rushing Jonte Smith but he didn’t have time to divert the ball goal-wards, instead cannoning off him and over the bar.
Full-time saw the home team celebrate as they rose out of the bottom three, having taken six points from their last three games, against the top three in the Bostik Premier League. For the Rooks it was the end of a disappointing week with just one point from three games but more importantly, losing a third influential player to what looked like a serious knee injury.
After the game a very disappointed Darren Freeman spoke to Barry Collins.
The Rooks have a week to prepare for next Saturday’s home game against Potters Bar Town, kick off at The Pan at 3pm.
Harlow Town: Bexon, Rodgers (Plumpton – 12mins), Kissi, Hastings, Ujah, Simms, Price-Placid (Adaje – 80 mins), Richardson, Hitchcock, Watkins (Vaughan – 73 mins), Koranteng
Subs not used: Da Cruz, Clarke
Lewes: Carey, Reed, Redwood (Overton – 71 mins), Oluwatimilehin (Dome-Bemwin – 46 mins), Chappell, Day, Golding, Lawson, Blewden (Smith – 49 mins), Hammond, Pamment
Subs not used: Karl
Bookings: Day, Lawson
Attendance: 175 – 33 Rooks