Lewes secured promotion back to the Bostik Premier with a comfortable 4-2 victory over Sussex rivals Horsham on a brilliant night at the Pan reports Tom Harper.
Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that had won 3-1 at Corinthian Casuals in their previous game, with Chris Winterton returning in goal in place of Max Huxter and Harry Reed replacing the injured Charlie Coppola down the right.
Knowing that a win would be enough to clinch automatic promotion with three games to spare, Lewes made a bright start and took the lead after just four minutes through Jonte Smith, who converted an excellent Harry Reed cross from the right.
The Rooks were playing with plenty of confidence and doubled their lead after 15 minutes. Gus Sow was the scorer, as his deflected strike beat Joe Taylor in the Horsham goal after the visitors had been unable to clear a mis-hit Leon Redwood free-kick.
Lewes were looking dangerous every time they went forward, with Reed enjoying a particularly impressive game down the right and having the beating of his opponent whenever he had the ball.
Only a fine save from Taylor prevented the Rooks from going 3-0 up midway through the half, as he got down well to keep out a close-range effort from Smith after good work by Omarr Lawson to dispossess a Horsham defender.
It was therefore against the run of play when Horsham halved the deficit after 27 minutes, with former Lewes striker Dean Bown latching onto a Shane Cojocarel through-ball and finishing calmly past Chris Winterton from close range to bring the visitors back into the game.
The game became slightly disjointed at this stage, with challenges flying in from both sides in what was becoming a very competitive Sussex derby.
Lewes continued to look more like scoring though and regained their two-goal advantage four minutes before the break, as Reed finished from inside the six-yard box after Taylor had only been able to parry a close-range Smith strike.
The visitors responded well however, and nearly hit back immediately as Bown hit the bar with a powerful long-range effort.
The final chance of the half fell to Lewes, with Taylor forced into another smart save to keep out a well-hit Redwood strike after good football around the edge of the Horsham area.
After a first half full of goalmouth action, the second saw fewer chances for both sides until the closing stages.
Despite this, Taylor was still called into action to deny Ronnie Conlon, before making a superb save to push a Redwood free-kick onto the post just minutes later as Lewes looked to move further ahead.
The Rooks scored a fourth goal to ease any tension in the ground after 79 minutes through Frankie Chappell, who met a Redwood corner with a thumping header into the roof of the net.
As the Lewes fans began to celebrate what seemed like a certain three points, the visitors did their best to ensure a nervy last few minutes, as Cojocarel capitalised on uncertain defending to lob Winterton and two covering defenders from a difficult angle with three minutes remaining.
The closing stages passed without incident, and the Rooks were able to celebrate a derby win and more importantly, promotion back to the Bostik Premier after just two seasons at step four.
There is still plenty to play for during the remaining three games though, as Lewes look to try and beat nearest rivals Carshalton Athletic to the title.
Understandably, the manager was quite pleased when he spoke to Barry Collins post-match.
Next up for Lewes is the visit of East Grinstead Town to the Pan on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Lawson, Chappell, Cotton, Bosma (Hammond 78), Sow, Smith (Elliott 63), Conlon (Medlock 81), Reed.
Unused Subs: George, Hurley.
Booked: Bosma, Smith.
Horsham: Taylor, Farmer, Shelley, Watson, Boswell (House 52), Kirkwood, Axell (Street 80), Adelakun, Bown (Whiteley 84), Gaylor, Cojocarel.
Unused Sub: Walsh.
Booked: Shelley, Kirkwood.