The under-18s continued their fine start to the league campaign with another comprehensive victory on Thursday evening away to Bognor Regis Town, writes Craig Stevens.
Dale Hurley made four changes to the team that brushed Shoreham aside two weeks ago with Tegan Freeman, Louis Veneti, Hayden Beaconsfield and debutant Max Blencowe, signed from rivals Whitehawk a few weeks ago, all slotting in to a strong starting XI.
Hurley’s side enjoyed their games against Bognor last season, winning both corresponding fixtures comfortably on route to the league title.
The Rooks were being afforded a great deal of space in the opening moments of the game and after three minutes a cross-field pass from Callum Jenkins released full-back Shane Harper down the left and he jinked inside his maker and struck a firm side-foot effort that looked to be nestling inside the far post, but he was expertly denied by the hosts’ stopper Jake Miles.
This was a sign of things to come for the Rooks and the visitors took the lead on only five minutes.
A corner from the right was partially cleared to the edge of the area where Freeman was lurking, his drive was deflected into the path of Max Blencowe who helped it on to Jay Popham on the edge of the six-yard box and he expertly slotted in to open the scoring.
The visitors were looking to kill the game off early and were having great success down the right with Brad Santos, who was beating his full-back at will, but his delivery into the box was lacking on a couple of occasions and these were dealt with comfortably by the hosts.
On 19 minutes, Santos latched onto a route-one kick from goalkeeper Taylor Seymour and this time went by himself to lob a calm finish over the stranded Miles in the Bognor goal for 2-0.
The Rooks were dominant and an excellent 25+ pass move on 35 minutes was worked into Popham who drew a fine save from Miles.
There was nothing the hosts’ stopper could do two minutes later, however, when Louis Veneti, cutting a frustrated figure in the opening half, was gifted the ball by the Bognor defence 20 yards out. His attempted chip was saved but the rebound fell kindly for Popham who forced the ball home on the line, under pressure from a retreating defender. 3-0.
Three became four on the stroke of half-time as another fine passing move involving Santos and Harper down the right found Popham 10 yards out. His initial effort was blocked but fell kindly for Beaconsfield who tapped in for his second league goal of the campaign.
The second half continued in the same manner as the first, with the Rooks attacking the hosts almost at will with Bognor happy to play on the counter attack.
On 52 minutes, Beaconsfield added his second of the game. He was released on the left by a reverse ball by Popham and he cut inside his man on the corner of the penalty area to bend an excellent finish into the far corner.
Hurley adjusted his side on 55 and 56 minutes – Mitch Hewens replaced Santos, Sumner and Mitchell replaced D’Arienzo and Harper respectively.
Further chances came and went for Popham and Blencowe on 61 and 65, but they were unable to add the visitors’ tally.
On 70 minutes it was six. Hewens, recently on trial with Reading, beat his man down the right and fed the ball into Veneti whose dinked cross was finished off by Popham to complete his hat-trick.
Veneti finally got the goals his performance deserved on 75 and 79 to complete the scoring, turning home on both occasions from six yards for 8-0.
This was an excellent performance from the Rooks who dominated the game from start to finish. There were occasions in the second half when the visitors could have perhaps controlled the game a little better but it is difficult to be too critical following this victory.
This made it 9 points out of 9 and saw Lewes maintain top spot int he league, so far scoring 20 goals and conceding none. Following the tight finish in the league last season, this goal difference could prove to be vital.
Attention turns to the Isthmian Youth Cup next Thursday when local rivals Whitehawk visit the Pan. The visitors will arrive on the back of a 1-0 reverse to Three Bridges on Thursday evening. Kick off is at 7:45pm and all supportis gratefully received.
Lewes: Seymour, Harper (Mitchell), D’Arienzo (Sumner), Freeman,Blencowe, Whitmore, Santos (Hewens), Jenkins, Veneti, Popham, Beaconsfield.
Subs not used: Young, Allen
MOM: Hayden Beaconsfield