An outstanding team performance saw Lewes continue their unbeaten start to 2016 with an impressive 3-1 win over second-placed Dulwich Hamlet at the Pan reports Tom Harper.
Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that had drawn 0-0 with Needham Market in their previous game, with Ronnie Conlon and Alex Laing replacing Lloyd Cotton and Henry Muggeridge in the starting line-up.
The visitors got off to a bright start and missed two presentable opportunities to take the lead early on, as Nyren Clunis headed an Albert Jarrett cross onto the roof of the net before Damian Scannell could only shoot wide from close range after a free-kick had not been cleared.
After weathering this early storm, Lewes came into the game and began to enjoy a lot of possession, with Conlon looking dangerous every time he got the ball in midfield and Dee Okojie causing Duwich right-back Mitchell Nelson plenty of problems with his pace down the left.
It was Conlon who had the Rooks’ first chance of the game, as he did well to evade two challenges on the edge of the area before seeing his goal-bound effort blocked by covering defender Osei Sankofa.
Dulwich were always going to pose a threat going forward with the quality they had in their side and they nearly took the lead just before the half-hour, when former Lewes midfielder Jack Dixon saw his effort from the edge of the area pushed wide by the previously untroubled Chris Winterton.
The Rooks looked dangerous every time they went forward as well though, and took the lead after 36 minutes. Jonte Smith was the scorer, heading past Phil Wilson from close range after Leon Redwood had acrobatically helped a James Hammond free-kick back into the danger area.
Lewes were now playing with plenty of confidence and came close to doubling their lead within minutes, as Wilson had to be alert to push a sliced clearance from Sankofa round the post after an excellent free-kick from Hammond.
The Rooks found the second goal their pressure had threatened just before the break, as Alex Laing capitalised on an under-hit back-pass from Jordan Brown, rounded Wilson and finished into the empty net to send the home fans into raptures.
Dulwich showed their intentions for the second half by bringing on striker Ryan Moss for centre-back Sankofa at the break, but it failed to prevent Lewes continuing where they left off before half-time.
Redwood was having arguably one of his best games for the club at left-back and almost claimed a second assist, as his cross-shot from the left was flicked just wide of the far post by Hammond within minutes of the restart.
The visitors found a route back into the game just after 62 minutes though, as Clunis cut the ball back from the right byline for Danny Waldren to volley home from close range and halve the deficit.
It would have been easy for Lewes to sit back at this stage and try to stand up to the expected spell of pressure from Dulwich, but they continued to play on the front foot and were rewarded in style within six minutes.
There seemed little on when Hammond picked the ball up 25 yards from goal at the end of an incisive passing move in midfield, but he steadied himself before sending a superb effort over Wilson and into the back of the net to restore the Rooks’ two-goal advantage.
Dulwich tried a more direct approach to try and salvage something from the game during the last 20 minutes, but were unable to seriously trouble a Lewes defence superbly marshalled by Stacey Freeman and Alex Malins.
The Rooks continued to pose a threat on the break with their pace in attacking areas and were able to use this to see the game out comfortably and make it five games unbeaten since the turn of the year.
This was one of Lewes’ best performances of the season, with the Rooks weathering an early storm before out-playing one of the best sides in the league and deservedly picking up a vital three points in the battle to avoid relegation.
Lewes will hope to build on this result when they travel to Enfield Town on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Carey, Freeman, Malins, Conlon (Coppola 87), Hammond, Smith (McCreadie 84), Laing (Muggeridge 79), Okojie.
Unused Subs: Badger, Robinson.
Dulwich Hamlet: Wilson, Nelson, Brown, Waldren, Drage, Sankofa (Moss 46), Clunis, Dixon, Erskine (Carew 79), Scannell, Jarrett (Murrell-Williamson 77).
Unused Subs: Sow, Hibbert.
Booked: Nelson, Erskine.
Referee: A. Anastasiou