An impressive display from Lewes saw them comfortably beat Loxwood and set up a trip to the Amex for their first Sussex Senior Cup final since 2006 reports Tom Harper.
With interim manager Martin Hinshelwood unavailable, Steve Eke took charge and made three changes to the side from the 1-0 win against Dulwich Hamlet last week. Two of the changes were enforced, with the cup-tied Jordan Badger and James Fraser being replaced by Gary Elphick and Tom Davis. Ollie Rowe replaced Sam Cole at left-back in the other change to the side.
The Rooks started the game brightly and controlled the opening stages, with the pace of Arron Hopkinson and Nick Wheeler out wide causing the Loxwood defence plenty of problems early on. Davis forced Billy Bishop in the Loxwood goal into a smart save to tip over a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the area, before Rowe headed a Matt Crabb corner over from close range.
Matt Crabb went close himself minutes later, seeing a curling effort clip the top of the bar before Rowe went close again with a header from a Wheeler corner. Lewes finally got the goal their first-half pressure had deserved after 37 minutes, as Wheeler met a Matt Crabb free-kick at the far post with an acrobatic volley back across Bishop and into the corner.
The Rooks started the second half well and doubled their lead within seconds of the restart, as Hopkinson cut in from the right and sent a low effort across Bishop and into the bottom corner to put Lewes in control. Loxwood were angry at the manner of the goal though, as they had been unable to bring on a substitute at half-time meaning they started the second half with only ten players on the pitch.
The game became more even at this stage, with Loxwood continuing to work hard and restricting Lewes to fewer opportunities than during the first half. The Rooks continued to look like adding to their lead however, as Elliott Romain forced a fine save from Bishop as he deflected a low cross from Rowe towards goal.
Lewes enjoyed another good spell in the closing stages, with Matt Crabb seeing a corner headed off the line by Tom Summerfield, and Davis hitting the post with the rebound. The pressure told as the Rooks added a third goal with nine minutes remaining, Rowe heading home a Matt Crabb cross from the right after a short corner had caught out the Loxwood defence.
There was still time for Lewes to almost score again, as Wheeler broke clear only to see his effort well saved by Bishop. The final chance of the game fell to Loxwood, with Mark Cave seeing a close-range header deflected just wide after good build-up play down the right.
This was a dominant display from Lewes, who always looked in control of the game after going ahead and could have scored more had it not been for some impressive defending from Loxwood and several fine saves from Bishop.
The Rooks can now look forward to a trip to the Amex for the final on the 16th May whilst continuing to try and pull clear of Ryman Premier relegation zone.
Next up for Lewes is a league trip to Canvey Island on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Hall, S. Crabb, Rowe, Marshall, Elphick (Malins 78), Breach, Hopkinson, Davis (Willock 81), Romain, M. Crabb, Wheeler.
Unused Subs: Blewden, Robinson, Burbridge.
Loxwood: Bishop, Holvey (Hoyte 29), Summerfield, French, Familton, Swaine, Wood, Gill, Martin (Wright 74), Cave, Findlay (Elkana 47).
Unused Subs: Pritchard, Scally.
Booked: French, Swaine, Findlay.
Referee: Leigh Crowhurst