A strong second half performance saw The Rooks force a FA Cup replay after sloppy defending saw them trail 2-0 at half-time, reports Stuart Fuller.
With Frankie Chappell starting his three game suspension and Charlie Coppola injured, Peter Gregory was able to make his debut after finally gaining international clearance, whilst Kane Diedrick-Roberts was promoted from the bench to start the game.
It was a fairly uneventful opening with the home side having learnt some harsh lessons from last week’s 4-1 defeat and trying to feed the ball into Tommy Wood, signed on loan from AFC Wimbledon on Friday. It was Wood who had the first real chance of the game on 10 minutes, forcing Nathan Stroomberg into a smart save.
At the other end Michael Dome-Bemwin’s strike from the edge of the box just flew over the bar, sending the ranked Rooks masses behind the goal scrambling for cover.
In the 16th minute Leatherhead took the lead. A corner from the left-hand side found centre-back Jerry Nnamani and he headed home unchallenged.
The Rooks response was to try to work an opening down the right-hand side. Dayshonne Golding had the beating of his markers time after time, and it resulted in Hester-Cook becoming the first player to go into the referee’s book for one too many fouls on the Lewes wide man.
Lewes didn’t heed a warning in the 36th minute with Martyn Box hacking the ball of the line only for the ball to be in the back of the net within 90 seconds as once again that man Nnamani rose unmarked to nod in a free-kick from the Lewes left hand side. Two nil down at half-time and starring at an early FA Cup exit.
Boss Freeman obviously delivered a masterful half-time team talk as within 90 seconds the Rooks had a goal back. Kayne Diedrick-Roberts shot from 25 yards squeezed under the Leatherhead keeper and into the net. Game on!
The Rooks were controlling the game but couldn’t create the same number of chances as they did last week. The home side continued to provide a threat, with some last-gasp defending, notably from Thomas Day, keeping the deficit to just one goal.
In the 65th minute Alex Malins came on as a substitute, his first game back for the Rooks in 18 months after injury and he played a major part in getting the Rooks back in the game, delivering a superb ball to the back post where Dayshonne Golding smashed the ball home to equalise.
In the 75th minute the card-happy referee could have easily reduced the Rooks to ten men after a melee near the halfway line that saw four players issued yellow cards. The stakes were high for the winners and so there was nervousness at each end as we approached the 90th minute. A last-gasp challenge by Salmon denied Jordy Mongoy a clear shot on goal and from the resulting corner, James Hammond smashed the ball against the upright from 6 yards.
It was to be the last action of the game and whilst the Rooks came within a whisker of grabbing an injury time winner, it would have been slightly harsh on the home side who played their part in an entertaining game.
Post match Darren spoke to Barry Collins, very happy with the second half performance.
The Rooks will host Leatherhead, for the third consecutive game, on Wednesday 11th September at The Dripping Pan in the replay, kick off 7:45pm. As a reminder to season-ticket holders, it will be all pay.
Leatherhead: Oualah, Driver, Ikebuasi, McGee, Salmon, Nnamani, Gregory, Hester-Cook, Wood, Dsane, Olusemo (Blake 60mins)
Subs: Sardinha, Dawkins
Booked: Oualah, Ikebuasi, Hester-Cook, Blake
Lewes: Stroomberg, Day, Box, Dome-Bemwin, Gregory (Ilic 76mins), Freeman, Golding, Hammond, Mongoy, Onovwigan (Malins 65mins), Diedrick-Roberts
Subs not used: Adeyemo, Seymour, Jourdan, Barclay, Reed
Booked: Golding, Hammond, Onovwigan, Ilic
Attendance: 305 (Approx. 60 Rooks fans)