A hard earned win against Eastbourne lifts Lewes
With an end of season relegation battle looming, Lewes Men's 2s visited Eastbourne, keen to convert recent form into points.
Coming from behind twice to snatch 3-points from a decent Eastbourne team provides proof that any spirit and goal-scoring ability the team may have lacked in the first half of the season is very much there.
Early exchanges on a tricky Eastbourne pitch showed that the sides were as evenly matched as the home fixture in November that Lewes won 3-2. Without that game’s hat trick hero, Pete Fuller, Lewes might have worried where goals were going to come from. And with good interplay from each sides’ midfield early on, the game again looked like it had a score in it. Both keepers were busy in the first half and a series of smart saves each end kept things level.
It was, however, Eastbourne who converted first - a nicely crafted attack after a Lewes defensive error, followed by a mis-trapped penalty corner flicked fast through Bullmore’s regretful legs.
Lewes kept working hard, and knowing that they’d come from behind in previous games, created a couple of close chances. But with a gusting wind behind them, and a few more D penetrations and penalty corners, Eastbourne might have been justified in feeling they deserved the half-time lead.
Re-energised by a spirited team talk (and Jelly Babies), Lewes bounced into the second half, knowing they’d been playing good hockey. With Thomas marshalling the defence, decent distribution from Cooke, Rideout and Blackwell, and some lovely mazey runs from Yeats, Rae, Devonport and Wain, Eastbourne were increasingly on the back foot. Martin looked threatening and was unlucky to pull a crisply taken shot wide.
Lewes haven’t always converted pressure into goals so it was with a cheer (and a sigh of relief from Bullmore) that the game was evened up when Daniels sent the Eastbourne keeper the wrong way with his penalty flick, earned from a well-worked penalty corner. Were the umpires influenced by Thomas’s howl of existential angst when the Eastbourne keeper kicked him to concede the flick? We’ll never know, but the performing arts’ loss is certainly Lewes’ gain. And actually it was a clear cut decision. 1-1. Game on.
The goal was the reward for more menace in their attacking play, but Lewes didn’t have time to kick-on. Eastbourne’s hard working midfield, led by their talented number 13, started to threaten again, quickly retaking the lead with a nicely placed flick, albeit from a dubious penalty corner.
Eastbourne, revitalised, redoubled their attacks in the following period, but Lewes’ defence held fast. Bullmore denying their 13 another sharp drag flick from a penalty corner. Rae, Rideout, and Thomas clearing the lines with crucial last ditch tackles.
Cards on both sides reflected a game getting lively. Eastbourne pushed hard. But Lewes 2s are more streetwise these days and quickly evened up the score when Tapping tipped in a finely placed, powerful pass from Daniels.
This critical goal was followed just minutes later by a fast transfer between Lewes’s defence and midfield, and a crafty, bobbling pass from Devonport, that “right place, right time” Pewter pounced on, and coolly slotted in. 3-2 Lewes.
With the game slipping from their grasp Eastbourne continued to attack but couldn’t create any clear-cut chances against a well-organised, tough and hard-working Lewes team. Lewes headed into the changing rooms with a well-earned victory, but credit should go to both teams for a hard-fought game played in good spirits, and with quality, attacking hockey.
The win means Lewes climb out of the relegation zone, and now look forward with relish to hosting relegation rivals Mid-Sussex next week. The away fixture, played in atrocious conditions, was a rather flaccid draw, reflecting Lewes’s previous lack of teeth. On Saturday’s performance Lewes look sharp enough to give the game a bit more bite.
SCORERS: Daniels, Tapping, Pewter.
TEAM: Bullmore (GK), Rea, Thomas, Rideout, Cooke J., Daniels (capt), Blackwell, Yeats, Pewter, Wain, Devonport, Tapping, Martin.
Report by Simon Bullmore