Lewes finished the season with a 0-0 draw against Chipstead in a game of few chances at the Pan in front of a superb crowd of 1,134, a result which meant the Rooks finished second in the league after Carshalton Athletic’s emphatic 7-0 victory over VCD Athletic reports Tom Harper.
Darren Freeman made one change to the side that lost 2-0 at Faversham in their previous game, with Ronnie Conlon replacing Billy Medlock in the starting line-up.
The visitors started the game brightly, and saw Andrew Mensah denied by Chris Winterton before Dean Lodge missed the target with an effort from the edge of the area shortly after during the opening stages.
Lewes grew into the game as the half progressed, with Omarr Lawson missing the target twice in quick succession as they looked to take the lead and put pressure on Carshalton in the race for the title.
Chipstead always looked dangerous going forward themselves though, and Winterton had to be alert to keep out a powerful Sam Bell volley.
The Rooks started to see more of the ball in the closing stages of the half, as Lawson drew a smart save from Michael Sibley in the Chipstead goal after good work by Ronnie Conlon, before Jonte Smith saw a header from a Leon Redwood cross disallowed for offside minutes later.
The final chance of the half fell to Lewes, but Conlon could only head a dangerous James Hammond cross wide.
Chipstead started the second half with plenty of confidence and came close to taking the lead within minutes of the restart, as Mensah latched onto a Dylan Cascoe through-ball but put his effort wide of the upright under pressure from Lloyd Cotton.
Despite the lack of clear-cut opportunities, there was a party atmosphere in the ground as Lewes fans celebrated the club’s first promotion for ten years.
The Rooks were being restricted to half-chances by the hardworking visitors, with Jonte Smith heading a Jamie Brotherton cross straight at Sibley as they pushed for a breakthrough.
Lewes had arguably their best chance to finish the season with a win with just over ten minutes remaining, as Frankie Chappell attacked an excellent Leon Redwood corner but could only guide his header just over the bar from close range.
The final chance of the game fell to the visitors in stoppage-time, with Winterton helping a 25-yard free-kick from Chris O’Flaherty over the bar.
Whilst Lewes may have been slightly disappointed not to finish the season with a win, this was a brilliant campaign for the Rooks, who deservedly secured promotion with three games to spare and can now look ahead to a return to the Bostik Premier next season.
Post-match saw Ronnie Conlon named Supporters’ Young Player of the Season and Frankie Chappell crowned the Supporters’ Player of the Season, before players and supporters celebrated promotion together on the pitch.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Hammond, Chappell, Cotton, Lawson (Medlock 55), Sow, Smith (Elliott 61), Conlon, Coppola (Brotherton 51).
Unused Subs: Reed, Bosma.
Chipstead: Sibley, Warren, Gunner, Cumber, Page (Boakye 46), Males, Lodge (Cascoe 46), Khan, Mensah (Adaje 68), Bell, O’Flaherty.
Unused Subs: Twum, Smith.
Referee: Benjamin Knight