Lewes were on the wrong end of a nine-goal thriller, as they fell to a 5-4 defeat in an incredible game at Worthing, reports Tom Harper.
The Rooks started brightly and were ahead after just eight minutes through Joe Taylor, who beat Harrison Male from the penalty spot after Ollie Tanner had been tripped by Reece Myles-Meekums in the area.
Lewes doubled their lead four minutes later, Tanner sending in a free-kick from the right which was headed past Male by Matt Weaire at the far post.
Worthing responded well and pulled a goal back on 16 minutes, as Ollie Pearce finished into the roof of the net from close range after hesitant Lewes defending.
Despite this, the Rooks remained on the front foot and saw Taylor denied by Male after latching onto a Tanner through-ball, before having another effort blocked almost on the line just minutes later and then just failing to get on the end of a low cross-shot from Razzaq Coleman De-Graft which was also cleared off the line.
Lewes continued to look a threat whenever they went forward, with Tom Carlse the next player to go close by shooting straight at Male after a good run down the left.
The hosts made the most of these let-offs by levelling the scores on the half-hour, Pearce scoring from the spot after being fouled by Michael Klass as he attempted to latch onto a long kick forward by Male.
Worthing completed the turnaround by going 3-2 up just four minutes later, as former Rook Dayshonne Golding was given time to take a touch on the edge of the area before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Lewis Carey and into the bottom corner.
The hosts were understandably playing with confidence at this stage, and Mitchell Nelson had to be alert to turn a Marvin Armstrong cross-shot behind under pressure from Golding.
The Rooks then very nearly levelled the scores, as Tanner capitalised on a lapse in concentration in the Worthing defence and ran through on goal, but saw his strike kept out by Male.
Worthing nearly doubled their lead just before half-time, but found Carey in inspired form to tip a powerful Pearce effort round the post.
The hosts started the second half brightly and were able to make it 4-2 within a minute of the restart, as a Golding cross from the left was headed in at the far post by the unmarked Jasper Pattenden.
The next 20 minutes or so were the least eventful of the game, as Worthing kept possession and prevented Lewes from building up any pressure as they looked to find a route back into the game.
It was 5-2 on 72 minutes, Golding finishing into the roof of the net from close range after Lewes had been unable to clear a Jesse Starkey free-kick.
This should have led to a comfortable last 20 minutes for the hosts but Lewes had other ideas, and were handed a lifeline with 15 minutes remaining as Tanner saw a cross from the left handled in the area by Joel Colbran.
Taylor dispatched the penalty confidently to make it 5-3 and give the Rooks a glimmer of hope.
The Rooks had more than a glimmer of hope after 78 minutes, as Tanner sent an unstoppable 25-yard half-volley past Male and into the top corner to set up the grandstand finish such an incredible game arguably deserved.
Lewes pushed for an equaliser in the closing stages and the closest they came saw Tanner force a smart save from Male after an impressive run down the left.
The Rooks remained on the front foot late on but were unable to create another chance of note late on, and were left to reflect on the part they had played in an enthralling local derby that ultimately saw them return to East Sussex with only their third league defeat of the season.
Highlights of the game can be watched here.
Lewes travel to Bishop’s Stortford in the FA Trophy next Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Worthing: Male, Colbran, Tutt, Barker, Racine, Myles-Meekums, Armstrong (Diallo 71), Golding (Chalaye 85), Pearce (Cocorrachio 81), Starkey, Pattenden.
Unused Subs: Webber, Bartlett.
Booked: Tutt, Racine, Myles-Meekums, Pattenden.
Lewes: Carey, Yao, Carlse, Weaire, Nelson, Pritchard (Parker 76), Maloney, Klass (Olukoga 53), De-Graft (Moore 62), Tanner, Taylor.
Unused Subs: Colombie, D’Arienzo.
Booked: Yao, Nelson, Klass, Taylor.