An impressive team performance and an early goal of the season contender from Nick Wheeler helped Lewes maintain their unbeaten home league record and consolidate their position in the play-off places with a comfortable victory over Margate at the Pan, reports Tom Harper.
Garry Wilson made one change to the side which had beaten Enfield in their previous game, with Fraser Logan replacing the unavailable Matt Crabb in the starting line-up.
Lewes started the game brightly and were ahead after just four minutes thanks to a superb strike from Wheeler, who cut inside from the left wing and sent a curling effort across Craig Holloway in the Margate goal and into the top corner. The Rooks were playing some of the best football they have played all season and went close to adding to their lead, with Logan sending an effort from the edge of the penalty area just over and Wheeler seeing a close-range effort tipped round the post by Holloway.
Things got even worse for the visitors after 26 minutes, as Joe Vines was shown a straight red card for catching Sam Crabb with his elbow while challenging for a header. Lewes spent much of the rest of the half on the front foot as they looked to make the most of playing against ten men, with Nathan Crabb having a close-range strike disallowed for offside and then seeing a cross from the right cleverly flicked just wide of the near post by Logan.
Margate were unable to create any chances of note throughout the first half, but the pace of Charles Ademeno and Matt Bodkin meant that Lewes always had to be alert to the potential of a counter-attack.
The Rooks doubled their lead just two minutes into the second half, as Jack Dixon sent a close-range volley from a superb first-time Reece Hall cross past Holloway and into the back of the net.
The tempo of the game began to drop at this stage, with Lewes not looking like adding to their lead and Margate unable to create any chances of note. The points were made safe after 79 minutes, as substitute Dan Smith deflected a powerful Wheeler cross-shot into the corner from close range for his first league goal for the Rooks. Smith could have scored again in the final few minutes, glancing a header wide from another superb Wheeler delivery when he should have hit the target.
This victory was as convincing as the score line suggests, with Lewes rarely looking troubled by a Margate side who were only three points below them heading into the game. The pace of Wheeler caused the visitors back four – particularly right-back Elliott Cox – problems all afternoon and on another day, the Rooks could easily have scored another goal or two.
Lewes have a free weekend next week, with their next game coming on Saturday 9th November at Grays Athletic.
Lewes: Banks, S. Crabb, Gore (Vickers 73), Pearson, Austin, Walder, Wheeler, Dixon, Hall (Smith 70), N. Crabb (Hendon 84), Logan.
Unused Subs: Olorunda, Treleaven.
Margate: Holloway, Cox, Dolby, Avery, Beales, J. Vines, Whitely, Sammoutis (Fakinos 53), Walsh, Ademeno (P. Vines 53), Bodkin.
Unused Subs: Kinch, Corr, Osborn.
Sent off: J. Vines.
Referee: Craig Green