U18s Management duo Dave Amiet and Darren Teague would like to wish all those associated with Lewes FC a Happy New Year and to remind the U18s that training will resume on Monday 6th January 2014 at Uckfield Leisure Centre on the new 3G starting at 1900 and finishing at 2100.
A first half accurately described as “shocking” by manager Garry Wilson, a second half that earned the players a lengthy ovation at the end – the second game of Lewes’s Christmas programme was the stereotypical game of two halves, writes Barry Collins.
Whether the consequence of two games on two heavy pitches in two days, or something else entirely, Lewes were, frankly, abysmal in the first half.
The first goal for East Thurrock was calamitous. Ben Austin appeared to be paralysed by indecision as a waist-high ball was swung into the box. He stooped to head the ball, but it bounced clear over his head, and fell to David Bryant, who gratefully accepted the 11th minute gift. Austin’s afternoon ended barely 20 minutes later, perhaps suggesting he was carrying an injury.
Before Austin was replaced by Jay Lovett, East Thurrock were two goals to the good, however. This time the defence left John Easterford unmarked at a corner, and goalkeeper Denzel Gerrar was left flapping at thin air as the Thurrock centre-back collected his present. 2-0, and without a single Lewes shot on target in the first half.
Danny Bloor later revealed that “one or two players were told some home truths” during the interval, and whatever was said – or, more likely, barked at them – certainly did the trick. Only three minutes of the second half had ticked by before a break down the right-hand side saw Charlie Penny released, the Millwall-loanee calmly placing his shot beneath Hughes in the Thurrock goal.
The goal reinvigorated the 650-strong crowd, and for the next 15 minutes Lewes laid siege to the Thurrock goal. Andy Pearson goals from outside the box can be counted on the fingers of one mittened hand, but he was denied only by an astounding fingertips save from Hughes, who tipped the centre-back’s piledriver on to the bar and over. From the resulting corner, Jack Dixon got himself back on the scoresheet with a powerful near-post header.
Two all, and with half an hour still left to play, Lewes looked destined to complete the turnaround. Alas, that third goal never came, although Lewes could barely have come any closer to snatching a winner. Joel Ledgister’s driven shot was deflected on to the inside of Hughes’ post, and the young goalkeeper was the picture of relief as the ball bounced safely back into his arms. Nathan Crabb should have sealed victory when substitute Treleaven’s free-kick found him unmarked at the back post, but his shot was sliced so badly it trickled out for a throw-in.
East Thurrock had their chances to take all three points, too. A scuffed clearance from Gerrar was followed by an equally suicidal ball across the box from Lovett, but with only the out-of-position Gerrar to beat, the Rocks’ striker seemingly took pity and dribbled a weak shot straight at the relieved keeper. A succession of late corners and free-kicks had the massed ranks of the Philcox Stand nervously sipping their pints in the closing minutes, too.
Yet, 2-2 it ended, and the Lewes players were generously rewarded by the crowd for their second-half efforts. They can’t afford another first-half hangover if they want to get anything out of the New Year’s Day clash with Maidstone, however.
Lewes: Gerrar, S Crabb, Pearson, Austin (Lovett), Gore, Walder, Dixon, Wheeler (Treleaven), Penny, Ledgister (Keita), N Crabb.
Unused subs: Hall, Hendon
The match was evenly poised up until the 32nd minute, with Lewes beginning to counter Bognor’s early dominance. Then followed an incident that left a worst taste in the mouths of Lewes fans than the preceding day’s Brussels sprouts.
Bognor keeper Mark Zawadski had the ball in his hands after a corner, and spotted Jack Dixon behind him, trotting back towards the centre circle. Zawadski stuck out a leg, tripping Dixon, who gave the Bognor keeper the gift he wanted by reacting aggressively.
Neither referee nor linesman seemingly saw Zawadski’s trip, but after a brief consultation with his flag-waver, the referee saw fit to dismiss Dixon for violent conduct. Zawadski, who of course made the most of Dixon’s body check and returned to his goalmouth with a grin wider than Santa’s backside, escaped without even a word of censure from the officials.
The sending off necessitated a tactical switch from manager Garry Wilson, who until that point had unusually deployed two strikers: recent signings Joel Ledgister and Luke Blewdon. Ledgister dropped back into midfield alongside Matt Crabb, and for the remainder of the first half, Lewes matched their opponents, despite the one-man deficit.
That soon changed only seven minutes into the second half. The Rooks were caught napping by a break down the right-hand side, and Gerrar could only parry a shot into the path of ex-Rook Ben Godfrey, adding to the misery of the large travelling support.
Wilson soon replaced the puffing Blewdon with centre-back Pearson in an attempt to shore up the back line, but that failed to have the desired effect as Bognor doubled their lead on 62 minutes. Scott Chamberlain met a cross from another ex-Rook, Arron Hopkinson, and slammed it in off the post.
If that wasn’t quite game over, it was on 78 minutes, as Ollie Pearce gave Denzel Gerrar no chance with a low drive into the bottom-left corner.
With only pride to play for, Lewes at least salvaged a little of that. Nathan Crabb bulleted a ball across the six-yard box, and substitute Charlie Penny profited from the easiest of tap-ins to score his first goal in a Lewes shirt.
It wasn’t enough to wipe the smile off the shameless Zawadski’s face at the final whistle, but the Bognor keeper’s antics spoiled what might otherwise have been a decent match between two teams nibbling at the play-off spots.
Lewes: Gerrar, Brinkhurst, Gore, Lovett, Austin, M Crabb, Wheeler (Penny 68), Dixon, Blewdon (Pearson 58), N Crabb, Ledgister (S Crabb 73)
Unsused subs: Keita, Hendon
Sent off: Dixon
For those who saw Soccer AM on Sky Sports on Saturday you may have seen a segment featuring some of the crew of HMS Illustrious in Singapore featuring one of the crew wearing a Lewes shirt. That man was Matthew Crees. His son, Tom, got in touch and told us the background to the feature:-
“My Dad, Matthew Crees, is a steward currently serving on board HMS Illustrious. The picture of him was taken when he was in Dubai when his ship was deployed on operation Cougar, but because of the terrible cyclone in the Philippines, HMS Illustrious got diverted to the Philippines to deliver aid there. Whilst my Dad was there he helped to put a roof onto a school. After that they went to Singapore where they appeared on Soccer AM. Now they are currently enroute to Goa in India where they are going to spend Christmas, then after that they are going to head back to England for the 10th of January which will mean he has been away for 5 months.”
We raise a glass to Matthew and hope he returns home safely and look forward to welcoming him at the Pan in the New Year.
Following the postponement of the Men’s team game (21 Dec) v Hornchurch, the fixture will now be played on Tuesday 4th February, 7:45pm KO. Additionally, the postponed game away at Grays Athletic will now take place on Wednesday 26th February, kick off 7:45pm.
Next home fixture: Ryman Premier League v East Thurrock, Sat 28 Dec, 3pm KO.
The Lewes FC Board, players and management would like to wish all supporters, owners and sponsors a very Happy Christmas and a dry New Year.
The Rooks have today boosted their striking options by signing 22 year old Tonbridge Angels forward Luke Blewden on dual registration with the Kent club. Luke scored 19 goals for Crawley Down Gatwick last season but has struggled to hold down a permanent striking berth since moving to the Skrill South side in the summer.
Manager Garry Wilson hopes he could prove to be a “big signing for the club” and added that “We’re very happy to have signed Luke as he’s a player we’ve admired for a while now. Everyone is after a 20 goal a season striker and you’ve only got to look at Luke’s goal record over the previous couple of seasons to realise he’s a natural goal-getter. He’ll bring more to the team than just goals though and we appreciate Tommy (Warrilow) letting Luke dual sign with us”
Another new face in the Lewes squad on Saturday was Sierra Leonean-born striker Omarie Keita who signed after impressing in training over the previous week. Danny Bloor has already been excited by the 21 year old “Omarie’s got a great attitude and an infectious enthusiasm which we’ve all loved immediately. He’s was very unlucky with a bad injury while trialing with Brighton a couple of years ago but it’s clear he’s got bags of ability and hopefully he’ll be one for the fans to also get excited about”.
One striker moving in the opposite direction is Dan Smith who, after 4 goals in 14 matches, returns to Hassocks. We thank Dan for his efforts this season and hope he continues to hit the back of the net for The Robins.