After six months of waiting, the new season started with a harsh lesson for Lewes as they were well beaten by Enfield Town, reports Stuart Fuller.
Six of the team that started the last Rooks game back in March against Haringey Borough were in manager Hugo Langton’s starting XI with debuts for new signings Fintan Walsh, Merrick James-Lewis, James Beresford and Jaden Owusu-Nepaul whilst having to sit out due to injury were Kiran Khinda-John and Gary Noel.
The opening exchanges were fairly even with teenager Tegan Freeman impressing in the middle of the park whilst fellow former Under18s player Nic D’Arienzo getting the better of the experienced front pairing of Okojie and Bricknell on most occasions.
However, the deadlock was broken in the 24th minute when the Rooks lost the ball in the Enfield half and a swift break from Della-Verde and then Bricknell the ball played dangerously across the area and Okojie was on hand to stab the ball home.
The Rooks rallied and pressed for an equaliser, forcing a string of corners and free-kicks on dangerous positions but against the run of play the home side scored a fortuitous goal when a long throw in from the right was back-headed by Fintan Walsh, which flew over Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke’s head and into the net.
Lewes replied immediately when Tegan Freeman somehow kept a loose ball in play, laid it back for Leon Redwood and his deep cross was turned in by Aaron Cosgrave.
The second half was barely a few minutes old when Enfield extended their lead. Ryan Blackman was given far too much space on the right hand side of the area before he played a one-two with Okojie and then shot, the ball cannoning off the inside of the post and into the net.
The home side grew in confidence whilst the Rooks lacked any rhythm going forward and gave possession away cheaply, putting themselves under undue pressure without any outlet up front.
It came as no surprise when the home side scored a fourth, Lyle Della-Verde netting after being put in on goal by Billy Bricknell and giving Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke no chance.
This was a disappointing result for the travelling Rooks fans after so long without a competitive game. The hard work and effort in the first half was undone with a lacklustre second forty five as Hugo Langton admitted in his post match interview.
James Boyes’ photos from Saturday can be viewed here.
Manager Hugo Langton will be looking for an immediate response from the side when they travel to Bedfont Sports Club in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Tuesday night, kick off 7:45pm.
Enfield Town: McDonald, Kiangebeni, Chappell (Weatherstone 62mins), Thomas, McLeod-Uquhart, Gyebi, Della-Verde, Youngs, Bricknell, Okojie (Small 79mins), Blackman (Muleba 73 mins)
Subs not used: Pepera, Mubiayi
Lewes: Stroomberg-Clarke, Walsh, Redwood, James-Lewis, Frimpong, D’Arienzo, Beresford (Santos 63mins), Freeman, Cosgrave, Owusu-Nepaul (Blewden 73mins), Conlon (Martin 83 mins)
Subs not used: Barclay, Ferreira
Attendance: 250 (32 Rooks fans)
Goals: Okojie 24 mins (1-0), Walsh OG 42 mins (2-0), Cosgrave 43 mins (2-1), Blackman 50 mins (3-1), Della-Verde 79 mins (4-1)