A late strike from new signing Stefan Ilic from the edge of the box was enough to give the Rooks a deserved share of the points against a strong Enfield Town side, reports Stuart Fuller.
There was a familiar look to the starting Xi with Darren Freeman relying on nine of the squad who ended last season in the home game against Hornchurch lining up against Enfield Town. Nathan Stroomberg starting his first game in goal for Darren since the 3-0 win in Guernsey almost two years ago, whilst Jordy Mongoy made his league debut after joining the Rooks from Hastings United in the Summer. New signings Dean Bown, Kayne Diedrick-Roberts, Stefan Ilic and Zach Fagan took their places on the bench.
Last season Lewes and Enfield Town were quite fairly matched, sharing two draws and separated in the final Isthmian Premier League table by just one point. The opening period suggested that this season may not be any different as the two sides traded shots from distance, trying to make the most of the strong, swirling wind. Michael Dome-Bemwin had the Rooks best early chance in the 14th minute when he surged through the midfield but his shot was pushed away for a corner by Nathan McDonald in the visitor’s goal.
Filling in at full-back in the absence of Steve Brinkhurst, Kieron Pamment saw a lot of the ball in the opening twenty five minutes and had two efforts that were mighty close, the first skimming the bar after a smart dummy from Charlie Coppola whilst his second was a half-volley well saved by the Enfield keeper. Stroomberg had to be alert to save a powerful header from Charles and then again a few minutes when the same player tested him from the edge of the box.
Just after the half-hour mark the Rooks should have been ahead. A long Stroomberg clearance was wind-assisted and caught the Enfield Town backline out and Jordy Mongoy was through on goal but his lofted effort ended up on the roof of the net.
In the 38th minute the visitors took the lead against the run of play. Pamment controlled a difficult ball well but his attempted pass back to Freeman was intercepted by Ken Charles and he held off a challenge from the Rooks centre-back before smashing his shot into the net despite Stroomberg getting a hand to it.
Two minutes before the break the Rooks should have been level when some smart play down the right by Dayshonne Golding saw him leave his marker for dust and a smart ball across the six-yard box cried out for a Lewes player’s final touch but unfortunately neither Ola Adeyemo or Jordy Mongoy could get on the end of it.
The second half saw the wind change direction again and cause issues for the Rooks defence. In the 56th minute a Sam Youngs free-kick from the left-hand side had Stroomberg back-peddling to tip the ball over, whilst Taafe and Bricknall both saw efforts from distance gain wind assist but fortunately not enough to trouble Nathan.
The turning point for Lewes was the introduction of the three substitutes. In the 83rd minute former Tooting & Mitcham United striker Ilic was fouled by Youngs 25 yards out. James Hammond’s powerful free-kick ripped through the wall but the McDonald held onto it at the second attempt. However, less than a minute later the Rooks had their deserved equaliser. Ilic picked the ball up 25 yards out, shuffled past a defender and then sent an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner (video thanks to @SofaRooks).
Now we had a grandstand finish as the Rooks sensed there was time for a winner. Pamment’s overlapping run and shot was well saved by McDonald at his near post whilst the subsequent corner caused some desperate defending by the visitors as Bown, Freeman and Mongoy all looked to stab the bouncing ball home.
Alas, there was to be no winner and the Rooks had to make do with a point.
The Rooks make the short trip to Worthing on Tuesday night for their second BetVictor Isthmian League game of the season with the kick-off at Woodside being 7:45pm.
Lewes: Stroomberg, Pamment, Day, Dome-Bemwin, Chappell, Freeman, Coppola (Diedrick-Roberts 73 mins), Hammond, Mongoy, Golding (Ilic 61 mins), Adeyemo (Bown 67 mins)
Subs not used: Fagan, Barcaly
Enfield Town: McDonald, Muleba, Payne, Thomas, Weatherstone, Wilson (Rumens 46 mins), Taafe (Livings 79 mins), Youngs, Bricknell, Charles (Cathline 73 mins), Potton
Subs not used: Musaiyi, Hatton
Referee: Daniel Austin
Attendance: 593 (47ish from Enfield Town)