Job done. Lewes’s season ended on a high note with a comprehensive victory at Bury Town that saw the Rooks guarantee safety without having to rely on results elsewhere reports Stuart Fuller.
For the first time in his reign as manager of Lewes, Steve Brown was able to choose from a virtual full squad, including the welcome return of Henry Muggeridge, who formed a wide partnership with Nick Wheeler, whilst George Brown came into the side to play in the midfield holding role, replacing Ronnie Conlon who was forced to sit out the game due to his head injury last week.
Whilst the hosts were relegated some weeks ago, their recent form had been impressive and the Rooks started nervously. However, Lewes soon spotted a weakness in the Bury back line, using the two wide men to get in behind the defence. With Crabb and Brown breaking up the infrequent Bury attacks, the challenge for the Rooks was to convert possession into goals.
Wheeler looked to be on his best form as the sun shone and with a quarter of the game gone he recovered from being disposed on the touchline, beat the full back and hit a low ball across the six yard line. Archer could only fumble the ball into the path of Elliott Romain who got every conceivable part of his body behind the ball to ensure it went into the net to give the Rooks the lead.
Bury’s only threat came from the long throw-ins that they hurled in from each side. It was from one of these that the host’s best chance came from when Lampshire flicked one of the throw-ins on and it flashed across Rikki Banks’ goal.
Half-time saw the fans quickly calculating the permutations at the bottom of the table, with the goals flying in at almost every relevant game. However, our task remained the same – three points equalled Ryman Premier League safety. The Beer Festival ale certainly helped eased the nerves of the fantastic 70 or so Lewes fans who had made the trip north.
Whilst the Lewes fans were happy with the scores coming through in the second half from elsewhere around the bottom of the division, the Rooks continued to turn the screw of dominance. Rikki Banks became a virtual spectator as Lewes to look for the vital second goal. They didn’t have to wait long as Wheeler danced down the line and his cross was met by one of the smallest players on the pitch, Henry Muggeridge with a superb header from an improbable angle that sailed over Archer’s head and into the net. The celebrations summed up how much the goal meant not only to the team but to Henry himself who has had a torrid season full of injury.
The final half hour was played out in glorious sunshine. Bury offered no threat, seemingly happy to play out the season with a whimper, whilst Steve Brown made a few changes to look at keeping the tempo up. Archer kept Bury in the game as Fraser and Romain looked to increase the score but it wasn’t to be. Few of the Lewes fans minded. Results elsewhere started to drift through and even with some late goals in those game, our safety was secured before four minutes of injury time were signalled.
So the curtain comes down on another league campaign but of course the fun doesn’t stop here. In twenty days’ time we head for the Amex Stadium for the small matter of the Parafix Sussex Senior Cup Final against Steve King’s Whitehawk.
Bury Town: Archer, Allen (Collins), Peterson, Kennedy (Yallop), Miller, Weavers, Hall, Short, Lampshire, Garrett, Nurse (Otobo)
Lewes: Banks, Rowe (Rowe-Hurst), Badger, M Crabb, Elphick, Breach, Muggeridge, Brown, Romain (Blewden), Fraser, Wheeler (S Crabb)
Subs not used: Willock, Taylor
Goals: Romain (23’), Muggeridge (54’)