Lewes Men's 1s in bottom of the table clash
Lewes won a crucial relegation battle with fellow strugglers Ashford at the Southdown Club...
...to leave them four points ahead of them and bottom side Holcombe but still three points from safety with the likelihood that four sides might go down. Lewes have also played more games than their rivals having not lost any matches to the weather in recent weeks.
In bitterly cold conditions with snow flurries throughout Lewes struggled to get any foothold in the first half. Too often passes went astray as Ashford settled the better. Only some strong tackling by defender Matt Rickson and good saves from goalkeeper Jack Edgerton kept it goalless in the opening fifteen minutes. Successive penalty corners were missed by Ashford and with ten minutes to go to half time another penalty corner was deflected round the post by the alert Tom Voller on the goal line as Lewes's goal led a charmed life. But with five minutes remaining Ashford deservedly took the lead from their fifth penalty corner which went into the goal off a defenders stick running out. All Lewes had to show for a poor first half was one penalty corner which came to nothing.
Whatever was said at half time worked for the hosts. They were more determined and dominated midfield moving the ball around quicker and more accurately to stretch the Ashford defence. After ten minutes a well worked penalty corner routine saw Toby Price score from close range to equalise. Lewes did not have it all their own way and were twice caught upfield as Ashford broke away and but for some profligate finishing and more good saves from Edgerton could have been behind again. Both sides discipline let them down in the closing stages as poor tackles and frustration with Umpires decisions saw at one stage Ashford only having nine players on the pitch and Lewes ten due to temporary suspensions. It was Lewes that finally got the winner with ten minutes remaining when Rickson dribbled into the circle from the right and slipped the ball to skipper Matt Clark who scored with a thunderous reverse stick shot over the goalkeepers head into the roof of the net. Lewes could have added to this lead in the closing minutes as Rory Jervis played in Sam Heinzl whose shot was blocked on the goal line and a final penalty corner shot in overtime was then blocked.
Lewes will need another performance like the second half tomorrow on Saturday when they travel to fourth placed West Hampstead. They have six matches remaining, to get out of the probable relegation places.
Report by Paul Spruce