A late goal saw Lewes fall to their first defeat of pre-season, despite an impressive performance against the Chelsea development squad in front of a crowd of 808 at the Pan reports Tom Harper.
Chelsea saw a lot of the ball early on, but were unable to get in behind the well-organised Lewes back four and test Chris Winterton. The Rooks had the first half-chance of the game, as Ronnie Conlon sent a curling effort from the edge of the area over the bar after the visitor’s defence had been unable to clear a George McCarthy corner.
Chelsea soon began testing the Lewes defence though, and nearly opened the scoring in unusual fashion when Matt Hurley was forced to hook the ball off the line after Matthew George had inadvertently turned a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross from the left past Winterton. Hudson-Odoi was involved in most of the visitor’s best openings and came close to opening the scoring himself with a close-range effort after a smart turn in the area, but saw the impressive Lloyd Cotton make a superb block to keep out his goal-bound strike.
The visitors continued to push for an opening goal in the lead-up to half-time, with Luke McCormick forcing a fine save from Winterton after latching onto a perfectly-weighted through-ball, before somehow scooping an effort from just a few yards out over the bar after the Lewes defence had been unable to clear a corner minutes later. There were few chances of note for either side during the second half, with both managers making several changes as the half progressed.
Lewes continued to keep their defensive shape and always looked capable of winning the ball in midfield, with Gus Sow making several important challenges in front of the back four. The visitors always posed a threat with their pace and movement up front though, and eventually took the lead after 75 minutes through Martel Taylor-Crossdale, who found the back of the net with a close-range header after a Charlie Wakefield cross had picked him out in the six-yard box.
Taylor-Crossdale nearly doubled his account and his side’s lead minutes later, but saw his powerful strike from the edge of the area rise over the bar after clever build-up play in midfield.
Despite their best efforts, Lewes were unable to find a way back into the game late on. However, the Rooks can take plenty of positives from an encouraging display against some of the best young players in the country.
Lewes continue their pre-season preparations at Worthing on Tuesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.
Lewes: Winterton, McCarthy, George, Hammond, Cotton, Hurley, A Trialist, Sow, Smith, Bosma, Conlon.
Subs: Robinson, Stroomberg, Kealy, Landais, Gunn, Tuck, MacDevitt, Reed.
Chelsea Development Squad: Blackman, James, Suljic, Ampadu, Castillo, Sammut, St. Clair, McCormick, Ashley-Seal, Christie-Davies, Hudson-Odoi.
Subs: Cumming, Dasilva, Colley, Maddox, Muheim, Taylor-Crossdale, Wakefield.
Referee: Craig Simpson