Lewes staged a late fight back to grab a deserved point against Thamesmead Town at The Pan on Saturday, thanks to two second-half goals from substitute Jonte Smith, reports Stuart Fuller.
The Rooks went into the game unchanged for the fourth consecutive Bostik League South game, with plenty of fire-power on the bench. However, it was the visitors, fresh from their 5-2 midweek victory over Phoenix Sports that started the brighter and forced birthday-boy Chris Winterton into action early when Parish created space for himself but shot straight at the Lewes keeper who had gone three games without conceding a goal.
That record ended in the 10th minute when a cross from Duyile on the left-hand side wasn't cleared and former Rooks Richard Pacquette rolled back the years and smashed the ball home. The goal stirred Lewes into life and both Coppola and Conlon started to get some joy in the space behind the five-man Thamesmead midfield. In the 15th minute Gus Sow has the best chance of the game for Lewes as his shot is well stopped by Carey.
The Rooks dominated the remainder of the half but couldn't find that final ball into the danger area. They won a number of free-kicks in dangerous areas but the delivery seemed to elude everyone in a red and black shirt. On the half-hour the best Lewes move of the half sees Conlon and Coppola involved and the final ball finds the deadly Billy Medlock but his effort flies just wide.
With half-time approaching Thamesmead broke through the Lewes midfield and the ball found its way to the impressive Danny Parish just inside the area and he made no mistake from 10 yards to give the visitors a 2-0 lead at the break.
Unsurprisingly, the Rooks team were out early for the second period and immediately started on the front foot. Conlon had his dancing boots on and skipped past a number of challenges but his final ball couldn't find Medlock. On 54 minutes Bosma was caught late by Leon Smith, who had already been booked but the referee deemed it to be not worthy of a second yellow but it was enough to end the afternoon of the Lewes number 7, replaced by Jonte Smith as the Rooks went 4-4-2.
Three minutes after coming on Jonte scored. Thamesmead lost possession near the Lewes corner flag and Hammond played the ball wide to Ronnie Conlon, who cut inside and played a superb ball in between the centre-backs for Jonte to run on, keep his composure and roll the ball past Carey into the net.
Five minutes later the Rooks should have been level as Medlock led a three against one but decided to shoot, Carey saving easily, rather than squaring to Jonte who was unmarked and would have had an open goal.
The Rooks were certainly on the ascendency and Carey had to be on his best form to keep out efforts from Medlock, Smith and a superb curling effort from Ronnie Conlon. Jamie Brotherton entered the fray with fifteen minutes left and immediately looked to take on the weary McIntyre.
With the clock ticking into the 90th minute, Lewes forced another corner. Sow's ball rebounds around the area before Jonte turns and pokes the ball into the net to send the Philcox Stand into jubilations. The Rooks had got out of jail to rescue a point but it could have been so different if they had taken their chances in the first half. All credit to Thamesmead who played their part in an entertaining second half.
After the game Barry Collins spoke to Ross Standen about the afternoon.
Pictures from the game can be found, thanks to James Boyes, here.
The Rooks are next in action on Tuesday night when they head to South Park for another Bostik League South fixture, kick off 7:45pm.
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, George (Grimaud - 90 mins), Hammond, Chappell, Cotton, Bosma (Smith - 54 mins), Sow, Medlock, Conlon, Coppola (Brotherton - 73 mins)
Subs not used: Hurley, Reed
Thamesmead Town: Carey, Duyile (Green - 62 mins), McIntyre, Avery, Smith, Denny, Anidugbe, O'Connor, Pacquette (Vines - 79mins), Parish, Mendy
Subs not used: Adeniran, Ovenden
Booked: Smith, Anidugbe