It was a case of battling all of the elements on Saturday as Lewes made the short journey across the County line to snatch a draw at title-favourites Maidstone United, reports Stuart Fuller.
With a number of games in the Ryman Premier League unable to start, or even end, due to the torrential rain, it was thankful that the Rooks were playing on a 3G pitch, although by the end of the game, the water was causing an issue in some parts of the artificial surface.
It seemed the odds were against Lewes, not only from the biblical weather but with Jack Walder and Nicky Wheeler both failing to recover from their respective ankle injuries. And with Nathan Crabb carrying a knock from Tuesday night and only available from the bench it was thankful that Garry Wilson could field a strong defensive line-up anchored by Ben Austin and Jay Lovett.
Lewes started positively, using the speed of the surface to spread the ball wide to Steve Brinkhurst and Fraser Logan. However, with Ade Olorunda well and truly marked in the penalty area, chances were few and far between, although Ross Treleaven had a good chance on 15 minutes which he headed wide.
Maidstone had the better chances of the first half with ex-Lewes striker Paul Booth pulling the strings and setting up Alex Fisher who fired into the side netting. Rikki Banks was then forced into making saves from Booth and Steve Watt before the break.
With no let up in the rain at the start of the second half, both teams changed their approach, opting to play the ball in the air to stop the ball running away on the lightning fast surface. Lewes came close to taking the lead in the early part of the half when Ben Austin’s header from a Logan corner appeared to be hacked off the line, whilst Logan himself saw a goal-bound shot well saved by the Maidstone keeper, Lee Worgan.
It was then Maidstone’s turn to push forward with Brown and the former Rook Ian Draycott having chances but failing to beat Rikki Banks who was having another outstanding game between the posts. However, it was Lewes who had the final chance to grab all three points when Nathan Crabb found the on-rushing Logan who shot ended up in the middle of the Rooks fans behind the goal.
The final whistle brought celebration from the Lewes players, management and fans knowing that this was a well earned point against one of the teams that will be at the top of the table come end of season time. Five games played and only one goal conceded just shows how far the Rooks have come in just a few months.
Photos from the very wet James Boyes can be found here.
Lewes only have to wait another twenty four hours before returning to action in the anticipated Sussex derby versus Bognor Regis on Monday, kick off 3pm.
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Richard Davies, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Jerrome Sobers Michael Phillips, Orlando Smith, Alex Brown, Paul Booth (Ian Draycott 76), Frannie Collin, Alex Flisher.
Subs Not Used: Danny Lye, Graeme Andrews, Rory Hill, Fabio Saraiva
Lewes: Rikki Banks, Sam Crabb, Sam Gore, Jay Lovett, Ben Austin, Matt Crabb, Steve Binkhurst, Jack Dixon, Ade Olorunda (Nathan Crabb 79), Ross Treleaven, Fraser Logan (Jacob Peake 90).
Subs not used: Ryan Fergany, Kelvin Brown, Jon Dollery