An eventful game at the Pan eventually saw Lewes progress to the third round of the Sussex Senior Cup with a 5-2 victory over Three Bridges after extra-time, reports Tom Harper.
Ross Standen and Tony Coade handed full debuts to youth team players Taylor Seymour and Callum Jenkins in a strong side, with the Rooks looking to continue their recent upturn in form.
The visitors started the game brightly and took the lead after only ten minutes through Brannon O’Neill, who met a corner from the left with a thumping near-post header into the top corner.
Lewes saw plenty of the ball throughout the first half, but were largely kept at arms length by their well-organised visitors.
The closest the Rooks came to equalising saw substitute Dayshonne Golding, introduced in place of the injured Tom Day, hit the post when through on goal after controlling a cross-field ball from Alex Malins down the right.
Lewes played with more intensity at the start of the second half and should have equalised within minutes of the restart, as Jordy Mongoy headed a Kayne Diedrick-Roberts cross wide from close range.
The introduction of Dylan Gifford just after the hour gave the Rooks more energy in the final third and he was involved almost immediately, intercepting a loose pass at the back and teeing up Stefan Ilic to shoot wide from the edge of the area.
Lewes equalised on 70 minutes and Gifford was involved again, beating several players down the right before picking out Diedrick-Roberts, who guided a low effort into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
The Rooks thought they had taken the lead just minutes later, but saw Mongoy’s header from a left-wing Golding cross ruled out for offside.
Lewes did go ahead after 75 minutes in controversial circumstances as the Bridges players put the ball out and stopped playing to allow Andrew Sesay to receive treatment, but with referee Barrie Small allowing play to continue, Ilic rounded former Rook Kieron Thorp in the visitor’s goal and slotted the ball into the empty net.
Heated discussions ensued on the pitch amongst both sets of players and after a two-minute delay, Lewes sportingly allowed Tom Tolfrey to run straight through from the restart and level the scores.
The Rooks were on the front foot for the remainder of normal time, with a powerful Malins effort deflected just over his own bar by Dean Gunner and Leon Redwood narrowly missing the target from the resulting corner.
It looked like Lewes had sealed the win deep into injury-time when Mongoy tapped in from close range after a fine save from Thorp to keep out an initial effort, but the linesman’s flag once again cut short any celebrations, meaning that extra-time would be required.
The visitors were forced to play with nine men for most of extra-time, as Sesay and substitute Andre McCollin were both forced off injured with all three substitutes having been used.
Lewes made the most of their numerical advantage just five minutes into extra-time through Golding, who latched onto a Mongoy through-ball and sent his strike across Thorp and just inside the far post.
The Rooks doubled their lead four minutes later, with the ball being worked from left to right and eventually falling to Golding to finish from close range.
Golding was forced off injured himself at half-time in extra-time, and the second period passed with little incident in the most part.
Lewes secured the victory with three minutes remaining though, as Mongoy’s shot from the edge of the area deceived the wrong-footed Thorp and nestled in the back of the net, ending the scoring on an eventful night at the Pan.
After the game co-boss Ross Standen spoke to Barry Collins about the eventful game.
The Rooks return to league action when they host Wingate & Finchley on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Seymour, Day (Golding 26), Redwood, Dome-Bemwin, Chappell, Malins, Ilic (Popham 92), Diedrick-Roberts, Gregory, Jenkins (Gifford 64), Mongoy.
Unused Subs: Stroomberg-Clarke, Onovwigun.
Three Bridges: Thorp, Williams, Hall, O’Neill (McCollin 78), Goode (Gunner 62), Price-Placid, Tolfrey, Sesay, Junior (Lansdale 63), Bromage, Gayler.
Unused Subs: Azzouz, Sabek.
Referee: Barrie Small