Rooks edged out by late Billericay winner

A spirited display was not enough to help Lewes win their first home game of the season, as a late goal saw the Rooks suffer a disappointing defeat to Billericay at the Pan reports Tom Harper.

Following the resignation of manager Steve Brown during the week, the interim management team of Jay Lovett, Martin Hinshelwood and Steve Eke made one change to the side that had lost 2-1 at Burgess Hill on Wednesday, with Fraser Logan replacing George Brown.  The Rooks also included new signing Phil Appiah on the bench, with the midfielder returning to the club after spending a few months at the Pan last season.

Both sides pressed early on, with Lewes looking to play through midfield and cause Billericay problems with their pace in attacking areas, while the visitors attempted a more direct style in a bid to worry the Rooks defence.

Lewes took the lead after 22 minutes, Robin Deen beating Jack Giddens in the Billericay goal at his near post after a cut-back from the right had hit Alex Laing and fallen kindly for him.  The visitors almost responded immediately though, as substitute Onome Sodje saw a goal disallowed for offside after an error from Nik Tzanev, who then redeemed himself with a fine save at the feet of Mike Fondop-Talom after Jordan Badger had misjudged a long ball.

Billericay were able to equalise just before the half-hour, as a close-range effort from Connor Hubble hit Fondop-Talom and wrong-footed Tzanev to level the scores. The Rooks spent much of the remainder of the first half under the cosh, as Hubble hit the crossbar with a long-range effort and Sodje missed the target with two headers.

Lewes made a double substitution at half-time, with Laing and Leon Redwood being replaced by Nathan Crabb and George Brown.

The visitors started the second half as they had finished the first, with Fondop-Talom being denied by Tzanev after beating the offside trap and the impressive Tom Derry then seeing his effort saved on the rebound.

The Rooks came close to taking the lead themselves minutes later, as Brown saw his effort pushed over the bar by Giddens after an excellent passing move.  Billericay were continuing to cause problems with their direct style, and saw a close-range header cleared off the line by Henry Muggeridge and Tzanev tip the follow-up from Fondop-Talom onto the crossbar and over.

The visitors took the lead after 61 minutes, as a weak Elliott Levy back-pass played Tzanev into trouble and left Fondop-Talom with a simple finish into the empty net.  They should have increased their lead almost immediately, with Hubble volleying a Derry cross over from close range.

The Rooks were showing plenty of character, however, and equalised within three minutes, as Muggeridge capitalised on uncertainty in the Billericay defence to score through a crowd of players after Lewes had been denied what looked like a stonewall penalty in the build-up for a foul on Fraser Logan.

Both sides pushed for a winner as the game moved into the final 15 minutes, with Tzanev keeping out a Fondop-Talom effort before Levy shot straight at Giddens when clean through at the other end.

Lewes were made to pay for this missed opportunity, as the visitors regained the lead with just eight minutes remaining, with Sodje sending a free header at the near post from a Teddy Nesbitt corner past Tzanev and into the back of the net.  There was still time for the Rooks to very nearly find an equaliser though, as Badger headed a Deen cross over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Despite falling to a disappointing defeat, the Lewes players were applauded off the pitch by the supporters at full-time after a much-improved display that arguably deserved a point based on chances created.

The Rooks will hope to build on the performance and pick up their first home win of the season on Wednesday when Tonbridge Angels are the visitors to the Pan, kick-off at 7.45pm.

Lewes: Tzanev, Muggeridge, Marsh-Brown, Logan, Badger, Lovett, Conlon, Redwood (Brown 46), Deen, Laing (Crabb 46), Levy.

Unused Subs: Appiah, Welch, Hutchins.

Booked: Badger.

Billericay Town: Giddens, Williams, Nesbitt, Curley, Okosieme, Ellul (Sodje 23), Derry, Hazelwood, Akurang (Edwards 54), Fondop-Talom (Bloomfield 83), Hubble.

Unused Subs: Cojocarel, Sefer.

Booked: None.

Referee: Aji Ajibola

Attendance: 351



Author: stuartnoel

Nearly prize winning author of Passport to Football, Budget Airline Football and European Football - A Fans Guide.