A disappointing first-half performance saw Lewes suffer a 2-1 defeat to Wingate & Finchley in torrential rain at the Pan, reports Tom Harper.
The visitors started the game brightly and were ahead after just three minutes through Charlie Ruff, who was given time and space to drive forward before beating Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke with a low effort from 20 yards.
Lewes were forced into an early substitution, with Tegan Freeman being introduced in place of the injured Michael Onovwigun.
The Rooks were struggling to get into the game and were fortunate to avoid falling further behind minutes later, as Stroomberg-Clarke made a smart save to deny Henry Ochieng.
Wingate weren’t to be denied for long though, and doubled their lead after 32 minutes, with the unmarked Ochieng heading a Luke Ifil cross from the right past Stroomberg-Clarke and into the bottom corner.
Lewes’ attacks were few and far between and after a rare foray forward, they were caught out by an incisive Wingate counter-attack which ended with Stroomberg-Clarke denying Ruff and Alex Malins making a superb last-ditch block to keep out Oluwaseun Akinsanya’s effort on the rebound.
Ross Standen and Tony Coade made a double substitution ten minutes into the second half to try to get the Rooks back into the game, with Stefan Ilic and Dayshonne Golding entering the fray.
The visitors should have put the game to bed themselves though, as Stroomberg-Clarke raced off his line to save bravely at the feet of Akinsanya.
Lewes nearly made the most of this let-off immediately, with Golding seeing a powerful strike saved by Shane Gore and Jordy Mongoy curling his effort on the rebound just wide, before a Leon Redwood cross from the right somehow evaded three onrushing Rooks players in front of an open goal just minutes later.
The Rooks did pull a goal back just after the hour through Charlie Coppola, who reacted quickest to finish from close range after Gore had only been able to parry a shot from Ilic.
Lewes were enjoying their best spell of the game at this stage and saw Mongoy go close twice in quick succession, seeing a close-range strike blocked before glancing a header just wide of the far post from a Redwood cross.
The Rooks found it more difficult to create chances in the closing stages as Wingate kept more players behind the ball, but arguably had their best chance to equalise during this period, with Coppola scuffing a close-range volley straight at Gore after Ilic had inadvertently picked him out with a header in front of goal.
Lewes saw plenty of the ball late on but were unable to create any chances of note, and were left to reflect on a poor first-half performance which ultimately cost them the chance of making it three league wins in a row.
Post-match a sodden Ross Standen spoke to Barry Collins about the game.
You can read today’s progcast here.
Next up for the Rooks is a trip to Corinthian Casuals FC to take on Kingstonian next Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Dawson, Redwood, Dome-Bemwin, Chappell, Malins, Mongoy, Diedrick-Roberts, Gregory (Ilic 55), Onovwigun (Freeman 7) (Golding 55), Coppola.
Unused Subs: Gifford, Popham.
Wingate & Finchley: Gore, Ifil, O’Keefe, Rifat (Dupray 81), Forino-Joseph, Grace, Ruff (Tejan-Sie 63), Oluwatimilehin, Akinsanya, Read (Kennedy 63), Ochieng.
Unused Subs: Fleming, Platt.
Booked: Gore, Forino-Joseph, Grace.
Referee: Barrie Small