An impressive comeback from Newhaven saw Lewes throw away a three-goal lead in the FA Cup Preliminary Round at the Pan, with a hat-trick from Lee Robinson earning the visitors a well-deserved replay reports Tom Harper.
Darren Freeman made four changes to the side that had beaten Guernsey on Wednesday, with Chris Winterton, Steve Brinkhurst, Jamie Brotherton and Liam MacDevitt all coming into the side.
The Rooks made the best possible start by taking the lead inside the first minute, as Ronnie Conlon latched onto a long ball forward and calmly finished past Jake Buss from the edge of the area. This goal didn’t dent Newhaven’s confidence, and they saw Kyle Woolven and Lee Robinson force Chris Winterton into smart saves as they chased an equaliser.
Despite this, Lewes doubled their lead after 32 minutes. Gus Sow was the scorer, as he placed a curling effort from just inside the area into the bottom corner after good build-up play down the right. The Rooks went further ahead just three minutes later, as a James Hammond free-kick was headed towards goal and Buss could only push the ball onto Alex Malins and into the back of the net.
Lewes were playing their best football of the game at this point, with Jamie Brotherton seeing a close-range effort from a Malins cross well saved by Buss.
The visitors refused to let their heads drop though, and deservedly pulled a goal back five minutes before half-time through Robinson, who capitalised on some hesitant defending to run through and finish past Winterton.
This goal galvanised Newhaven, and they made it 3-2 just four minutes in the second half, as Robinson latched onto a weak attempted header back to goal by Matt Hurley, rounded Winterton and finished into the empty net.
Lewes were seeing very little of the ball in the final third, but were preventing Newhaven from creating any clear-cut opportunities as the half progressed.
The visitors continued to look dangerous going forward, however, with Robinson forcing Winterton into a smart save with a powerful effort from a tight angle, before Matthew George eventually cleared the ball from inside the six-yard box.
Newhaven continued to push for an equaliser and found it after 89 minutes, as Robinson made the most of some indecisive defending by sending a half-volley from inside the area past Winterton and in off the post.
The visitors thought they should have been given a chance to complete an even more remarkable comeback in stoppage time, as Robinson went down under a challenge from Hurley when he was through on goal, only for referee Matthew Goldsmith to wave play on.
This was a disappointing result for Lewes, who looked in control at 3-0 up. However, conceding two goals either side of half-time gave Newhaven the impetus to go on and earn a replay their performance arguably deserved.
The Rooks will hope to put this result behind them when they travel to Newhaven for the replay on Tuesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George, Hammond, Hurley, Malins, Williams-Bowers, Sow (Bosma 58), MacDevitt (Landais 70), Brotherton (McCarthy 73), Conlon.
Unused Subs: W. Robinson, Reed, I. Robinson, Gunn.
Newhaven: Buss, Beale, Daly (Earle 87), Jarvis, Sowter, Knight, Batchelor, Jallow, L. Robinson, Woolven (Walton 87), Connor (Dartnall 79).
Unused Subs: Wood, Winser, Breach, Hildersley.
Booked: Beale, Sowter.
Referee: Matthew Goldsmith