A disappointing second-half performance saw Lewes fall to a 3-0 defeat against local rivals Burgess Hill Town in front of a superb crowd of 1,110 at the Pan, reports Tom Harper.
Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Bognor on Boxing Day, with new signing Olumide Oluwatimilehin and Leon Redwood replacing Michael Dome-Bemwin and Henri Wilder in the starting line-up.
There were few chances of note for either side during a cagey first half but the best of those created fell to Lewes, who saw Frankie Chappell just miss the target with a far-post header from a Kieron Pamment corner, and Oluwatimilehin send a powerful shot from the edge of the area over the bar as they looked to open the scoring.
The Rooks arguably should have taken the lead just before the break, as a short corner taken quickly by Redwood found Dayshonne Golding in space in the area, but Josh James in the Burgess Hill goal was equal to Golding’s effort.
Lewes remained on the front foot during the opening minutes of the second half, with Omarr Lawson and Pamment both going close.
The visitors took the lead in unusual circumstances after 51 minutes, as a long throw from the left by Ben Pope appeared to hit Oluwatimilehin in front of goal before ending up in the back of the net.
Burgess Hill nearly doubled their lead immediately, but saw a linesman’s flag deny them a second goal as Michael Wilson was adjudged to have been in an offside position when deflecting a long-range Pat Harding strike past Lewis Carey.
The visitors weren’t to be denied for long though, and did go 2-0 up just before the hour, as Pope beat Carey from the edge of the area after Lawson had been dispossessed deep inside his own half.
Darren Freeman introduced Luke Blewden, Charlie Coppola and Marcus Elliott with just over 20 minutes remaining in a bid to salvage something from the game, but the Rooks were finding it difficult to create any chances of note against their resolute visitors.
Burgess Hill scored their third goal after 72 minutes through Harding, who sent a superb 25-yard half-volley past Carey and into the back of the net to send the visiting supporters into raptures.
Lewes were unable to find a route back into the game during the closing stages, and were left to reflect on a below-par second-half performance and disappointing result in their first game of 2019.
After the game, Darren gave his frank assessment of the game when he spoke to Barry Collins.
Today’s E-Prog can be read here.
The Rooks will hope to bounce back from this when they travel to Enfield Town on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Carey, Oluwatimilehin, Redwood, Day, Chappell, Freeman, Lawson, Hammond, Smith (Coppola 68), Pamment (Blewden 68), Golding (Elliott 68).
Unused Subs: Reed, Overton.
Burgess Hill Town: James, Kipeya-Bonno (Choules 46), Cadman, Wilson, Elphick, Richmond, McCollin (Cavelo 46), Harding, Pope, Beck, Smith-Joseph (Ryder 63).
Unused Subs: Bennett, Tolulope.
Booked: McCollin, Smith-Joseph.
Referee: Barrie Small