The only way was Essex

Lewes suffered a humiliating home defeat at the hands of Ryman Premier League new boys Brentwood Town.

Steve Brown made three changes from the team that lost at Phoenix Sports last weekend with new on-loan keeper Nik Tzanev coming into the side, Chris Breach replacing the injured Alex Welsh, whilst George Brown returned in the centre of midfield, meaning Jay Lovett went into the back four to replace Jordan Badger.

Brentwood Town set the tone for the afternoon by scoring a goal from nothing in the 5th minute when a hopeful punt into the box was left by goalkeeper and defenders alike for fullback Anderson to head home unchallenged.  The goal seemed to spark Lewes into action and they began to pass the ball around nicely without ever causing Brentwood’s keeper any problems.  The turning point of the game came midway through the first period when Guest was adjudged to have punched the man (Logan) not the ball when coming for a cross.  Penalty to Lewes and a chance to get on even terms.  Redwood stepped up and hit his spot kick against the outside of the post.

The game was still relatively even until Jamie Guy waltzed through the home defence before picking his spot in the 42nd minute.  Half-time couldn’t come soon enough for Lewes to regroup.

The second half started relatively evenly before Liam Hope scored a third from a defensive lapse in the 51st minute which effectively killed off the game.  Brown threw on Conlon and Laing which upped the tempo but on 66 minutes a mix up between Breach and Tzanev saw substitute Richardson head home with his first touch.  More worryingly was the sight of Chris Breach having to leave the field on a stretcher with a head and an ankle injury.

With 90 minutes on the club, Alex Laing then showed what he can do, cutting inside the defender before he was hauled down in the box.  He immediately grabbed the ball and smashed home the penalty kick. Any consolation Lewes had from the goal evaporated a few seconds later when Robbie Rees’s strike from just inside the penalty area made it five for Brentwood Town, even though they only had seven shots on goal in the whole game.

It was a painful lesson for Lewes against a team who sat just above The Rooks in the table, and who showed very little in the way of enterprise.  Defensive errors, however, were ruthlessly punished by the visitors and now the process of picking the team up for the local derby away to Burgess Hill Town on Wednesday is the important focus for the management team.

Lewes: Tzanev, Wilson, Muggeridge, Brown, Breach (Badger), Lovett, Williams (Conlon), Logan (Laing), Crabb, Redwood, Levy

Subs not used: Coppola, Hutchins

Booked: None

Brentwood Town: Guest, Gordon, Anderson, Symons (Rees), O’Rawe, Stokes, Mahn, Ngandu, Hope (Richardson), Guy, Fisher (Holdsworth)

Subs not used: Banton, Robson

Booked: Guest, Symons

Referee: Bonneywell

Attendance: 441

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Brentwood Town preview

After nearly three weeks on the road The Rooks return to The Dripping Pan on Saturday for what promises to be a Squeeze-tastic day.  It will be the first time that the two teams will have met in a Ryman Premier league game, the previous two meetings coming three years ago in the FA Trophy where we drew 3-3 in a topsy-turvey game in Essex, then suffered a 3-0 reverse in the replay at The Dripping Pan.  The thorn in our side back then was striker Alex Read who is now plying his trade at Harlow Town.

Brentwood’s boss Dean Holdsworth has been busy strengthening his coaching squad this week as the team adjust to live in the Ryman Premier, bringing in Non-League legend Steve Portway and former Enfield Town manager Goerge Borg.  The club struggled in the first few games of the season but has found their feet in spectacular style, beating Leatherhead 4-1 and Staines Town 7-0 in recent weeks with goals coming from Jamie Guy and Liam Hope.  Keeper Martyn Guest joined in the summer from Witham Town and will be familiar to the Rooks fans who traveled there to watch us last season.

The Rooks welcome back keeper Nik Tzanev into the squad for the game after his home club Brentford didn’t want him cup-tied last weekend.  James Fraser’s rehabilitation continues and he is a few weeks away from a full return to action.  Steve Brown has been looking at a number of new additions to the squad over the past week, so there may be a new face or two in the squad tomorrow.

Kick off is 3pm – bear in mind with the Rugby World Cup match taking place at the Amex, kicking of at 4:45pm public transport and local roads may be busier than usual.

DS hit Bay for six

The DS continued their unbeaten start to the season with an emphatic 6-2 victory over Herne Bay at The Dripping Pan on Monday which lifted them to second in the Ryman U21 South table.

Lewes, starting with a strong wind in their favour, got off to a flyer when good work from Alex Laing put Iuean Strong clear into the penalty area and he finished well from a tight angle, 1-0 after 5 minutes. Crosses from Ian Robinson, George Laughlin and Harry Millar threatened to increase the lead but the visitors responded when Lewes failed to deal with a goal kick and were caught square, allowing the Delcan Wale to race clear and finish past the on rushing Nathan Stroomberg in the Lewes goal. Stroomberg then had to punch a couple of crosses away and James Kemp made a good recovering tackle to prevent further damage.

This seemed to focus the team and a through ball from Strong put Millar (pictured) clearHarry Millar on the left and he chipped the ‘keeper with aplomb from 25 yards to restore the lead on the half hour. Robinson then broke through but the Bay saved well and with Ronnie Conlon and young Charlie Coppola seeing more of the ball Lewes looked very threatening, so it was no surprise that Coppola made it 3-1 just before half time with an excellent finish from 15 yards after incisive pace from Robinson and Laing.

For the second half the Lewes defence had the wind in their faces but a high line compacted the game allowing little room for Herne Bay to settle into any rhythm. A fine run from Laing was stopped with a foul 25 yards from goal, this gave a free shooting opportunity which Millar drove against the post with the keeper beaten, Coppola showed a strikers instinct to follow up and net the rebound, 4-1 after 50 minutes.

Just when it was looking done and dusted Lewes conceded again, after Adam Christian had cleared a ball the defence failed to stop the resulting cross and poor marking gave Codie Dean the chance to score Herne Bay’s second goal.

Again the Rooks came forward and after Christian’s powerful header had been disallowed for a push, Lewes controlled the remainder of the contest. Laing, Robinson and Coppola were too much for Herne Bay with their pace and control and Robinson, and then Laing completed the scoring. Again all three subs were used to good effect and competition for places is keeping the quality of performance high, especially with first team players coming into the side for useful game time.

The next test for the Steve Eke’s DS is a trip to Kent on Thursday 24th September and a tough match against Whitstable Town U21s.

Team: Stroomberg, Avers, Laughlin, Conlon, Kemp, Christian, Laing (Simpson 80), Coppola, Robinson (Kavanagh 73), Strong, Millar (Stevenson 60). Subs not used: Mbiriviri, Haines.

Goals: Strong 5, Millar 26, Coppola 42, 50, Robinson 71, Laing 80.

Pompey Edge Thriller At The Pan

Perry Northeast’s Portsmouth were happy – and perhaps fortunate – to leave the Dripping Pan with all three points after a thrilling encounter. The crowd of 102 were treated to a feast of attacking football and robust defending, Pompey’s ability to convert separating two well-match sides.

The visitors started brightly, edging the first half thanks to incisive work from Quinn, Hillier and Umotong. On ten minutes Quinn latched onto a clearance, stepping inside to lash a fierce drive against Dolbear’s crossbar. The ball bounced on the line before Palmer hooked to safety.

Quinn had further chances, firing over after good work by Umotong before lunging between two defenders to poke the ball straight at Dolbear. Umotong had a chance of her own, leaning back to spoon high over the bar. Wells and Capon covered Pompey’s probes into the corners, Cheedy and Palmer backing up as Lewes got the measure of their opponents.

After a tough opening twenty five minutes Lewes started to create chances of their own. Walder played in Spice who executed a perfect Cruyff turn before shooting straight at Blakely. On the half-hour Palmer intercepted before picking out Lane. Lane slipped her marker and raced in on goal, Blakely rushing out to block as the Lewes eleven pulled the trigger.

Rookettes skipper Kelly Newton had picked up the tricky Umotong. On 32 minutes the two came together outside left of the Lewes area, the referee clearly unimpressed with Newton’s early attempt to swap shirts. Dolbear appered to have Quinn’s curled free-kick covered until Rutherford’s deft flick sent the ball past her left hand to nestle into the bottom corner. 0-1.

Lewes pressed for a leveller, Dani Lane again clean through but nudged off the ball. Confusion reigned as the referee blew, only to pull play back outside the area, apparently for an earlier foul on Lane. Umotong and Quinn had half-chances, both snuffed out by the excellent Cheedy, before Spice had the best chance of the half. Slipping her marker inside left, she spied Blakely off her line. Her lob beat the Pompey stopper and looked to be heading in. The home fans rose to celebrate, only for Blakely to calmly pick the ball out from behind the goal. HT 0-1.

Lewes started the second half as they’d finished the first. Wells went on a mazy run but fell as she pulled the trigger before Taylor made a heroic block on Walder. Moments later a fine, low Walder strike flew just wide of the left post. Spice was blocked out by Atkinson’s last-ditch challenge. It was all Lewes, but as so often happens, the home side were cruelly punished for their failure to finish. Portsmouth cleared to Wilson who raced away before lashing a fine finish past the diving Dolbear. 0-2 (52).

Portsmouth dropped deep, inviting their hosts forward, looking to counter-attack. One such break saw Dolbear again at full stretch, this time to palm away a stinging long-range strike. Just after the hour Lewes brought Nikki Payne on for Heather, Portsmouth Simmons for Umotong. Payne added instant mobility to the Lewes midfield, creating space and holding the ball up well against Atkinson and Sievwright.

For the third time in the match Lane got clear. Yet again Blakely made the save, this time with her feet. From the corner Wells volleyed just over. On 75 minutes Lewes had their best chance of the match. The tireless McIntyre rode several challenges, dancing in from the left. She might have gone down under the one of several lunges in the box but stayed on her feet to find Spice. For once Blakley was out of position. Spice swung, the ball skewed off her boot to spin agonisingly wide.

Capon made a perfectly-timed, goal-saving challenge as Pompey countered. Spice saw another close-range effort blocked for a corner. Lane took the ball in, her low cross cleared off the near post. On 76 minutes Baldock replaced Walder as Lewes kept the pressure on. Portsmouth soaked it up, bringing Bloomfield on for Sievwright. Lane had two more chances, both blocked, before McIntyre again found Spice in space, the Lewes striker shooting just over as a crowd of Portsmouth bodies closed her down.

FT 0-2. A terrific match, played in a good spirit. Lewes showed great heart and a never-say-die attitude. Both teams were outstanding in defence, Lewes lead by MvP Sian Cheedy, the visitors by the ever-impressive, none-shall-pass Blakely. Portsmouth delivered a harsh lesson in how to take chances in a tight contest, the difference today between two very good sides.

Lewes: Dolbear, Capon, Cheedy, Palmer, Wells, Newton, Walder, McIntyre, Lane, Heather, Spice
Lewes bench: Johnson, Baldock, Louis-Joseph, Payne

MvP as chosen by match sponsor Gerry Street: Sian Cheedy

Pompey: Blakely, Bazan, Rutherford, Atkinson, Taylor, Sievwright, Kempson, Quinn, Hillier, Wilson, Umotong
Pompey bench: Benson, Bloomfield, Simmons, Tewkesbury

Attendance: 102

DS and U18s make cup progress

Lewes DS entertained Rotherfield from the Mid Sussex League in the Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup on Friday evening on the Rookery. The team went into the game unbeaten including pre season, although tonight’s opponents would offer a different challenge coming from a senior league.

The game started with caution from both sides, sparring but no notable chances for either side. Then Iuean Strong’s excellent through ball set Ian Robinson clear, Robbo rounded the goalkeeper but pulled his shot across the goal and inches wide. Harry Millar then found space to deliver a perfect cross onto Tom Haines head but the chance was missed. Rotherfield responded with a sweeping move down the left that pulled the Lewes defence apart, it ended with a well struck shot that Graham Leach diving low to his right did well to save.

Lewes settled down and gained more possession and territory, a shot from Gary Mbiriviri was blocked then Zach Kavanagh produced a brilliant double dragback, this resulted in a defender fouling him on the edge of the penalty area. Robinson stepped forward and drilled the free kick into the net off the cross bar, his second goal in as many games, for Lewes to lead 1-0 at half time.

The home side started the second half with lots of the ball without creating very much in Rotherfield’s final third, a second goal would have probably settled the game but the away team pushed Lewes back and Matt Simpson, James Kemp, Adam Christian and Hal Comer had to work hard to repel a number of attacks. Then Lewes broke forward on a counter attack but gave the ball away allowing Rotherfield to attack quickly as tired legs failed to recover, resulting in a fine lobbed finish from 25 yards by Elliot Wilkins, 1-1 with 10 minutes left.

The Lewes players looked shattered and vulnerable but responded well and gained a corner, Kavanagh found Christian at the back post, he headed down into the corner but the GK saved well. Somehow Lewes had regained the initiative and when another incisive attack down the right created panic in Rotherfield’s defence George Laughlin took clinical advantage. Strong, Avers and Simpson combined and when a defender failed to clear Laughlin lashed a 15 yard volley into the roof of the net with 3 minutes remaining. Leach in the Lewes goal had to deal with one more attack, punching a cross under pressure to ensure victory against a spirited Rotherfield.

Victory brought relief rather than joy but winning whilst below par is a good experience for the team, it also brings them credit. The DS entertain Herne Bay U21s on Monday 14th September at the Dripping Pan, 7.45pm kick off.

Lewes DS: Leach, Simpson, Kemp, Christian, Comer, Mbiriviri, Kavanagh, Strong, Millar (Laughlin 72), Haines (Avers 77), Robinson.

On Sunday, the U18s also successfully negotiated the first round of the Sussex Bluefin Dennis Probee Youth Cup. Last season’s finalist swept aside Ferring with a convincing 7-1 home win. Four goals from second half substitute Sam Bentley was added to by strikes by Pat Gracethorne, Alex Plummer and Louis Smart. Next up for the U18s is the challenge of Tonbridge Angels on Thursday 17th September at the Pan. 7.45pm kick off.

Rooks burnt by Phoenix and the flames

Lewes exited the FA Cup on Saturday with barely a whimper after a disappointing defeat to Ryman North new boys Phoenix Sports.

After the impressive victory away at Hampton & Richmond Borough on Wednesday night, the hopes of the Rooks fans were high coming into the game in Barnehurst against a side that only made their Ryman League debut last month.

With new goalkeeper Nik Tzanev unable to play due to the conditions of his loan deal and Steve Sutherland back at Met Police, Steve Brown brought back Dan Hutchins between the sticks and Jordan Badger to centre-back for the start of our 2015/16 FA Cup campaign.  Unfortunately, it was to be the shortest campaign since The Rooks lost to Chertsey Town back in September 2011, with the hosts scoring a goal in each half and rarely looking troubled.

Phoenix Sports looked far more comfortable in the early stages with the central midfield pairing of Bedford and Goodchild seeing a lot of the ball, whilst our young centre-back pairing of Badger and Welch seemed to panic when they had the ball in possession.  The Rooks failed to create a chance in the opening forty minutes whilst the hosts edged ever closer to Hutchings goal.  The opening goal came in the 41st minute when Carnegie got past Muggeridge on the right and fired in a low cross that Goodchild got on the end of at the near post.

Lewes came out for the second half brighter but it took a change on the hour with Ronnie Conlon replacing Jordan Badger to spark Lewes into life.  Phoenix had a goal chalked off due to offside but then it was all Lewes with Redwood, Crabb and Conlon all having decent chances.  The hosts keeper Phillips then made a couple of oustanding saves from Welch and Lovett which had the away fans believing we could pull ourselves back into the game.

With twenty minutes to go Laing and Brown came on, with The Rooks switching to 4-4-2.  Laing immediately started to prove a handful for the Phoenix defence but an injury to Welch that saw him limping badly was always likely to see Lewes exposed at the back and sure enough after a counter attack the second Phoenix goal came from Ricky Freeman, moments after Nathan Crabb appeared to have been tripped in the box at the other end.

Lewes continued to try and create something but that second goal kicked most of the wind out of the team and the final whistle was greeted with disconsolation.  The Rooks had been beaten by a team who simply wanted to win more than them.

One final note relating to the “flames” in the title.  About 45 minutes post final whistle a fire on the allotments next to the ground spread to the trees and fence that bordered the ground on the side where the cars were parked.  We hope that there was no major damage to the club’s property.

Steve Brown now has a week to lift the team and potentially strengthen the squad before Brentwood Town come to the Dripping Pan next Saturday for an important Ryman League game, kick off 3pm.

Phoenix Sports: Phillips, Andrews, King, Bedford, Springett, Hill, Carnegie, Goodchild, Freeman, Mingle, Ramadan

Subs: Gnahore, McKenzie, Pattison, Woodward, Kemp

Bookings: King

Lewes: Hutchings, Wilson, Muggeridge, Lovett, Welch, Badger (Conlon 55), Williams (Brown 65), Logan (Laing 65), Crabb, Redwood, Levy

Subs not used: Strong, Stroomberg

Bookings: Redwood, Muggeridge

Referee: Marcus Carmichael

Attendance: 136

Phoenix Sports Preview

So here we are again – the start of our Road to Wembley.  Whilst we can all dream of walking down Wembley Way in the late May sunshine, the chances are we will have put our tin foil cups and rosettes back in the cupboard before the turn of the year.  Of course, every year we hope this year is our year and in the early rounds every game is winnable, especially with a nice cash incentive.  So on Saturday we travel for the second time in a week to the London/Kent borders.  Those who attended the game at VCD Athletic last Saturday will have heard the “oohs” and “ahhs” coming from The Phoenix Sports Ground, around 300 yards as the crow flies from VCD’s Oakwood Ground.

Last year’s Southern Counties East League winners, Phoenix Sports certainly aren’t rising from any ashes.  They are soaring like an eagle.  Their debut in the Ryman League North (a bit of a sore subject at the club due to the significant distances they have to cover) has so far been steady.  Their greatest achievement however, was beating Guernsey in the FA Cup Preliminary Round after a reply at The Pan.  They left it very late in the first meeting to secure a draw thanks to a last gasp goal from Yaccine Gnahore, then came out of the blocks like a greyhound in the replay with goals in the first few minutes from that man Gnahore again and winger George King.

Their recent form in the league has been:-

9th Sept – Romford (A) 0-0
5th Sept – Cheshunt (H) 1-2
25th Aug – Romford (H) 0-0
22nd Aug – Soham Town Rangers (H) 2-0
15th Aug – Witham Town (A) 2-1

They currently sit in 11th place in the Ryman League North with 11 points from their seven games.

Their talisman is captain and central midfielder Russell Bradford who also has a decent long throw on him.  Centre-back Scott Whibley, sent off last week at The Pan is likely to play whilst keep an eye on George King on the wing.

For those planning on heading to the game, you may want to have a look at our travel guide.

After The Rooks impressive 4-0 win at Hampton & Richmond Borough, Chris Breach is likely to return to the squad after missing out on Wednesday due to injury. Whilst there could be some late additions to the squad, few clubs would be prepared to allow any loan players to play in the FA Cup and thus cup-tie them.