Despite the news that Lewes were mathematically relegated last Saturday, there are three more games left in the season to focus on and attempt to extend the longest unbeaten run in the Ryman League Premier Division even further. The first of those games comes on Saturday when a resurgent Staines Town come to the Dripping Pan.
The threat of relegation had hung over Staines for a period before the appointment of new manager Johnson Hippolyte earlier this year. Whilst we left Kingstonian despondent with the fact we had been relegated last Saturday, Staines 2-2 draw with Leiston ensured that they were safe from the drop. Before their 1-0 defeat at Harrow Borough on Tuesday night, they had gone five games unbeaten themselves. Their main danger man remains striker Pat Cox who has 22 goals so far this season, almost half of the total Town have scored in the league. Hippolyte has changed the faces in the squad since his arrival with the likes of 22-year old Ryan Case at centre-back and the manager’s son, Jonathan who had been at Hampton & Richmond Borough earlier in the season.
Staines have taken 25 points on the road so far this season. Our last game against Staines Town resulted in a painful 3-0 reverse back in November 2015 with Michael Kalu, Ahmed Abdulla and Ashley Lodge getting on the score sheet.
Darren hopes to welcome back Charlie Coppola from his trial this week at Leicester City, and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni from his spell training with Chelsea. Lloyd Cotton and Josh Street remain doubts with their recent injuries, whilst Jimmy Muitt and George Landais continue their rehabilitation away from first team action. His thoughts ahead of the game are as follows:
“Last Saturday was a tough game at Kingstonian. Under any other circumstances, we’d be thinking what a great result that was. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, and despite holding the play-off challengers to a 2-2 draw, we were mathematically relegated.
It does seem quite harsh, after only losing three games in 17 and being unbeaten for the past seven. That shows how far we’ve come since the squad gelled. Alas, the gap has been too big for us to breach, although we’ll keep pushing right until the end of the season. You never know if there might be a reprieve, so we just need to concentrate on getting above Brentwood and giving ourselves the best possible chance of that ‘get out of jail’ card.
Of course, the squad and management are disappointed, but we’ve got to take it on the chin and stay positive. I fell that I’ve got a great bunch of lads and we have already signed Hammo, Ronnie and Laingy on contracts for next season. If we can keep the majority of the squad together, get a good, hard pre-season and some new additions, then I think that there’s a positive future ahead for Lewes FC.
I also want to acknowledge the great work being done by our youth coaches. We’ve got players coming through who look promising and I’m not afraid to use young players if they’re good enough, as you’ve seen with Charlie Coppola in recent weeks, who’s not even old enough to buy a drink at the bar after a game!
When you look around the club and see Yasin has been down at Chelsea on trial, Charlie’s been out to Leicester this week and Alfie Rogers had a trial game with Crystal Palace, you can see we’re getting a good reputation for developing young players, and that we’re moving in right direction. Producing quality players will put us in good stead.”