The road to Wembley is closed for another year

Lewes’s dreams of a trip to Wembley were broken in cruel fashion on Saturday when Conference North side Oxford City put six past the Rooks, reports Stuart Fuller.

On a chilly afternoon in Oxfordshire, any hopes of a cup upset were dashed within the first 15 minutes of the FA Trophy tie against Oxford City as they home side scored three times from their opening three attacks.

Garry Wilson was able to welcome back Matt Crabb from injury, replacing Joss Marshall in the starting line up from the win at Heybridge Swifts and Leroy Griffiths coming in for Nathan Crabb.  The attacking 3-5-2 formation looked to be a good move as The Rooks started very brightly with both Blewden and Wheeler having early chances, forcing Oxford’s Spanish keeper into good saves.

However, with what seemed like their first attack of the game Oxford broke swiftly and took the lead when the Brazilian striker Barcelos scored from close range.  Lewes hardly had time to catch their breath before the home side doubled the lead in the 11th minute when Yussuf reacted quickest to a ball into the box to make it two-nil.  Two became three just 150 seconds later when the Spaniard Santiago slotted home, effectively ending the tie with 75 minutes still to play.

Lewes could have panicked but they stuck to their formation and started taking to game back to the home side.  Wheeler and Crabb started getting past their men and causing all sorts of issues for the Oxford defence.  Just after the half hour mark Nicky Wheeler pulled a goal back with a well taken shot after a positive run inside his marker.  Wheeler almost grabbed a second a few minutes later when his smart lob was tipped over by De La Cruz.

Lewes certainly went into the half-time break with confidence, hoping that the second period would see a Witham-esque comeback. Alas it was not to be.  Oxford scored a fourth a few minutes into the half when Santiago scored his second.

Lewes continued to attack and Wilson brought on Romain and Brinkhurst to add more pace and width to proceedings.  Once again the Rooks dominated play for long periods but couldn’t find a way back into the game.  With players committed at the wrong end of the field, they were made to pay as twice in two minutes Oxford broke quickly and scored, firstly through Isaac and then by Benjamin.

Whilst Oxford City showed their Conference North credentials at times, the Rooks could leave the City of Spires with their heads held high.  Conceding five goals in a little over 10 minutes of play was harsh for a performance that in the Ryman Premier League would have seen them pushing for a win.

An excellent turn-out of 40 plus Lewes fans in a crowd of just 162 clapped the team off at the end, knowing that all the attention must now be on Wednesday’s must-win game at The Pan against Bury Town.

Oxford City: De La Cruz, Henderson, Stonehouse, Del Alamo, Lapoujade, Santiago, Barcelos, Fofana, Yussuf, Rodriguez, Winters

Subs: Isaac, Wilson, Benjamin, Pond, Scott

Lewes: Banks, S Crabb, Cole, Rowe, Logan, M Crabb, Wheeler, Davis, Blewden (Romain 55), Griffiths (Brinkhurst55), Appiah (Lovegrove 52)

Subs not used: Badger, Lightwood

Attn: 162


DS too strong for Bridges

The Lewes Development Squad returned to the summit of the Ryman U21 South table after a strong performance and a 3-1 victory against a resilient Three Bridges side.

It was a strong Rooks side which took to the field with game time given to new signings Chris Breach and Dean Lovegrove while Elliott Romain and James Fergany were also given a chance to impress after limited first team minutes recently. Academy goalkeeper Matthew Martin-Cramp continued between the sticks, Jerome Jibodu returned from injury at right back, Liam Wilson slotted into centre back along side Breach while there were also places in the starting XI for DS regulars Harry Millar, Harry Wilkins, Callum Connor and Max Howell.

Lewes took an early lead when Fergany showed his class and calmly slotted home after 22 minutes but the lead only lasted 9 minutes when the home defence failed to clear and Tom Gannon took the opportunity to level the scores. The home side came at their West Sussex rivals again and it was an easy decision by referee Nigel Bullen to point to the spot when frontman Connor was wiped out by the visitors ‘keeper. Connor himself stepped up to restore the lead and score his fifth goal in seven starts.

The three points were secured in the 65th minute when Elliott Romain’s speculative efforts made it into the net despite the best efforts from the Bridge’s goalkeeper.

The win gives Gary Croydon’s Development Squad their sixth win in eight matches and means they leapfrog Maidstone United back to the top of the table.

Team: Martin-Cramp, Jibodu, Millar, Breach, Wilson, Wilkins (Richardson 65), Romain, Lovegrove, Connor, Fergany (Stevenson 85), Howell (Conlon 80). Subs not used: Laughlin, Kelly.

Goals: Fergany 22, Connor (pen) 34, Romain 65.

Caution: Lovegrove

Rooks Christmas Catalogue 2014

The Rooks Christmas Catalogue on-line is available right here!

Christmas Catalogue

A great opportunity to stock up on all your essential gifts this Christmas! From ownership packs to hats, scarves, first team shirts and much more, the 2014 Lewes FC Christmas catalogue has it all…

And, If you’re already an owner, before you go Christmas shopping in Lewes, check out the comprehensive list of all our ‘Support & Save’ stores, for superb festive discounts of up to 50% when you show your Owner’s card.

Lewes FC Club Shop Manager Barry Haffenden said last night (or recently anyway):

“I’ve put together some fantastic Christmas offers this year, and the new owners Polo shirts are already selling like hot cakes. If fans get their orders in by December 10th, we’ll do our best to make sure they’re sitting underneath the tree on Christmas Day!”

Rooks swoop past the Swifts

FA trophy picLewes put on one of their best displays of the season as they overcame Heybridge Swifts at the second attempt in the FA Trophy, writes Barry Collins.

Both Leroy Griffiths and Jordan Badger bagged their first goals for the club as the Rooks secured a 3-2 win to make an arduous journey around the M25 worthwhile for the hardcore support.

Griffiths grabbed the first goal, even though he didn’t start the game, coming on as a 36th minute substitute for Nathan Crabb, who was mowed down by a late challenge in midfield. Before Crabby retired clutching his ribs, he narrowly failed to connect with the best chance of the opening half hour, just the breadth of his fringe away from converting a delightful cross from Nicky Wheeler.

No matter. The effervescent Griffiths may have taken five games to get on the scoresheet, but he took just five minutes to make an impact in this game, getting his head to a whipped cross from Sam Cole to make it 1-0. Josh Marshall didn’t join the celebrations, having been left in a crumpled heap by a late challenge in the build up to Leroy’s goal, and the youngster didn’t re-appear for the second half.

Before that, Lewes suffered another blow. A poor cross-field ball from Tom Davis was latched onto by the Swifts strikeforce, and despite two point-blank saves from Rikki Banks, Reece Morgan had time to get a third effort away to give the Swifts an underserved equaliser.

Henry Muggeridge replaced the crocked Marshall at half-time and Lewes began the second half with the same attacking verve they showed in the first, with Wheeler and Cole both terrorising the Heybridge defence down either flank.

Tom Davis’ dead-ball delivery has been a highlight of recent weeks, and he was spot on again as a second successive Lewes corner found its way to Leroy Griffiths, who lashed in a shot that bounced off a defender and into the path of Jordan Badger, who headed his first goal since graduating from Gary Croydon’s Development Squad and the Lewes FC Academy.

By now, Lewes were rampant. Badger came close again from another corner, the keeper’s fingertips just kept out a Blewden poledriver, and then Lewes put together possibly the move of the season: five crisp passes shredded the Heybridge defence, allowing Cole to gallop down the left and float a delicious ball to Nicky Wheeler at the back post. Wheeler slid in to apply the finishing touch, but the keeper’s legs prevented an early conclusion to the Goal of the Season contest.

The olé football was briefly interrupted on the 68th minute, when Heybridge were awarded a corner. The stocky Fitzgibbon somehow evaded the attention of the Lewes backline, and the Swifts were back level, if only for two minutes.

Garry Wilson implored his charges to “come again” and they did just that, another Davis free-kick finding Sam Cole unmarked at the back post for a simple tap-in.

The final 20 minutes were occasionally agonising to watch, not least when Rikki Banks had to make a splendid reaction save to prevent the Swifts taking the game into extra time. But the Rooks held out, before wandering over to celebrate with handshakes with the fans who’d made the dismal journey to Essex. A step closer to Wembley, although you may want to leave now if you’re planning to drive to the final in March. That M25 is a bugger.

Watch Danny Bloor’s reaction to the win here:

Heybridge Swifts: Sambridge, Griffin (Boswell 75), Barber, Glowacki (Gayle 81), Fitzgibbon, Beale, Morgan, Pearman, Richmond, Lopes (Spencer 64), Hunt

Unused subs: Good, Springett

Lewes: Banks, Badger, Rowe, Logan, Wheeler (Brinkhurst 88), Cole, Marshall (Muggeridge 46), Davis (c), Appiah, N Crabb (Griffiths 36), Blewden

Unused subs: Romain, Lightwood

Attendance: 119

Crabb grabs the Rooks a point in Wilson time

A remarkable late comeback saw Lewes pick up an unlikely point against Witham Town after being second-best for much of the game reports Tom Harper.

Garry Wilson included two new signings in the starting line-up, with former Rooks captain Chris Breach returning for his third spell at the club and midfielder Dean Lovegrove coming into the side having recently been playing in America.  Wilson was also able to call upon Phil Appiah, who returned to the side after missing the midweek FA Trophy draw with Heybridge Swifts through suspension.

There were few chances of note in the opening stages, with both sides struggling to test the opposition’s defence.  It took almost half an hour for there to be any goalmouth action, as Rikki Banks had to be alert to parry a long-range effort from Lewis Godbold.

Moments later, Lewes came close to taking the lead as Nathan Crabb glanced an in-swinging Leroy Griffiths cross towards the bottom corner, only to be denied the opening goal by a fine save from Witham goalkeeper Martyn Guest.

The visitors were looking the more dangerous side though, and saw Banks deny Ryan Charles with a smart save at his near post before Godbold sent a diving header from a Luke Callander cross against the post.  This pressure told three minutes before half-time, as Witham took the lead. Callander was the scorer, sending a close-range strike past Banks after good work down the right from Ellis Brown.

Banks was called into action against just minutes after the break, as he made a superb save to keep out a header from point-blank range after Lewes had been unable to deal with a corner.  Witham deservedly doubled their lead after 57 minutes, as an in-swinging Tom Wraight free-kick was headed past Banks from close-range by Joshua Banton.

The visitors were controlling the game at this stage, and should have extended their lead when Brown forced another fine save from Banks after cutting inside following a quickly-taken free-kick.  Lewes looked short of confidence, and it seemed like only a matter of time before Witham would add another goal to their lead.

The introduction of attacking trio Henry Muggeridge, Elliott Romain and Luke Blewden from the bench gave the visiting defence a bit more to think about but they still didn’t look like conceding.

That was until seven minutes from time, as Guest dropped an effort from Wheeler, allowing Blewden to roll the ball home from almost on the line to make it three goals in three games against Witham this season.

The visitors understandably tried to run the clock down at this stage, whilst continuing to look dangerous on the counter-attack.  The Rooks were given one last chance to find an equaliser three minutes into injury-time as they won a corner.

Banks was sent forward and with Witham unable to pick up every Lewes player in the box, Nathan Crabb was able to head Davis’ excellent delivery into the bottom corner from close range and earn the Rooks a point which had seemed almost impossible just ten minutes earlier.

Next up for Lewes is a trip to Heybridge Swifts for an FA Trophy replay on Tuesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.

Lewes: Banks, S. Crabb, Lovegrove (Muggeridge 64), Rowe, Breach, Badger (Blewden 77), Wheeler, Davis, Griffiths (Romain 64), N. Crabb, Appiah.

Unused Subs: Fergany, Logan.

Booked: S. Crabb, Lovegrove, Breach, Griffiths.

Witham Town: Guest, Mead, Wraight, Banton, King, Blackman, Brown, Paxman, Callander (Smith 81), Godbold, Charles (Emmanuel 49).

Unused Subs: Maxwell, Pedulu, Regis.

Booked: Wraight, Banton, King, Smith, Emmanuel.

Referee: Ben Knight

Attendance: 404



Rebels undone by Huet hat-trick

On a perfect night for football at the Dripping Pan, the young Rooks of Lewes welcomed local rivals, the Rebels from Worthing, and it again Dan Huet who scored his fourth hat-trick of the season to help his side progress to the last 16 of the Lucas Fettes (League) Cup.

There was another change to formation, reverting to a 4-3-3, and the lads adapted to the change once again and started brightly on the superb playing surface at the Pan. Fifteen year old Kyle Woolven having two of the best early chances but flashed past the upright.

As the half progressed the visitors pressed the Lewes defence further back and created various half chances but could not breakdown the Rooks back four or the impressive Nathan Stroomberg in goal. 0-0 at half time.

After a structured and detailed team talk the home side started the second half pressing the Worthing much higher up the pitch and within five minutes of the restart goal machine Dan Huet finished off a great move to give Lewes the lead. This unsettled the Rebels and it was only three minutes before Huet struck again. The frontman was dragged away from the goal and as he reached the byline he somehow looped the ball back towards goal which hit the far post and back over the line.

Hal Colmer sliced through the visitors defence and could have killed the game off but his shot missed the target by inches. Worthing made three changes in an attempt to alter the match which paid dividends in the 82 minute when they scored following a free kick.

It made for a tense final few minutes but when substitute Jacob Bassett crossed for Huet there was only one outcome as the 16 goal striker rifled the ball into the top corner to settle the game at three goals to one. Overall it was a great victory for the Young Rooks against a very well organised and impressive Worthing team.

Manager Dave Amiet along with his coaching team of Paul, Ian and Malcolm were really impressed with the boys and how they turned the match around in the second half, producing another fantastic footballing display “The way the squad has gelled and combined is a great credit to all the players. There were some fantastic performances with Ollie Stevenson slipping into a midfield trio of Jack Whitmore and Tom Caplin and producing his best performance of the season. The back five marshalled by Rabbit Kiabalenga were outstanding once again and grow stronger with every match”.

“The only negative tonight was dip in attendance, they missed out on the match of the season so far. Full credit to the Worthing players and their management team whose conduct and play tonight was exemplary and a credit their club. We’d like to wish them all the best for the season and look forward to meeting them again at Woodside Road in January. A word on James Hope and his assistant – they were first class tonight and let the game flow and we look forward to having them officiate again this season”.

The U18s return to league action next week as Horsham visit the Dripping Pan on Thursday 27th November, 7.45pm kick off.

Team: Nathan Stroomberg – Craig Avens – Jack Troak – Rabbit Kiabalenga – Adam Christian – Ollie Stevenson – Jack Whitmore – Kyle Woolven (Jacob Bassett 85) – Dan Huet (Jack Barnes 88) – Tom Caplin – Hal Colmer. Subs Not Used: Fred Ham, Ryan Gayler, Reece Markwick

Goals Scored: Dan Huet 49, 52, 86.

Breach and Lovegrove added to Rooks squad

Lewes have bolstered their squad with the signings of centre back Chris Breach and midfielder Dean Lovegrove.

Former skipper Chris Breach returns to the club from Burgess Hill Town after 18 months with the West Sussex club. This is Breach’s third spell for the Rooks since making his debut at the start of the Conference Premier season in August 2008. After three seasons at the Dripping Pan he briefly moved to Bognor Regis Town before returning for another 18 months stint and currently has 187 Lewes appearances under his belt, weighing in with 15 goals.

25 year old midfielder Lovegrove, meanwhile, joins after a spell playing for St Louis Lions in America. Crawley born Dean was a part of the Wimbledon youth set-up but after being released at 18 he subsequently joined Woking before spells at Horsham and then Worthing, under Danny Bloor, before moving to the USA to play semi-professionally.

Both players are added to tomorrow’s squad to face Witham Town, Dean’s participation is subject to the club receiving international clearance.