Friendly comes at a cost

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LEWES manager Tim O’Shea is hoping his side’s league fixture at Hampton & Richmond won’t fall foul of the wintry weather this weekend, writes Martyn Fisher.

The Rooks last played a Blue Square Bet South game on November 27 when they lost to fellow strugglers Thurrock.

O’Shea and his side, who are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference, have seen recent fixtures cancelled due to the snow (Bromley), and last weekend’s Round 1 FA Trophy schedule (a competition Lewes exited in the 3rd qualifying round).

However, the Dripping Pan did play host to a friendly last Saturday as a strong Lewes XI were defeated 1-0 by Isthmian League Premier Division side Margate.

Margate scored the only goal of the game two minutes before the half time break when Curtis Robinson broke well on the left and was given the time and space to send a great cross to the far post from where Shaun Welford was on hand to head the ball beyond Chris Winterton in the Lewes goal.

O’ Shea said: “No manager is ever happy to lose, and I was disappointed with the performance.

“But the fact these players hadn’t played a game in such a long time definitely showed.”

Although the fixture was vital in putting some money in the club coffers, and keeping the playing squad sharp, it came at a cost.

Lewis Hamilton received a red card moments after going into the book for dissent, and Lewis Ide suffered a serious injury.

On the red card, O’Shea said: “Lewis [Hamilton] was sent off for persistent abuse – something I don’t condone.

“He’s been dealt with internally, although we’re still waiting to see how long he’ll now be banned for.”

And on the unfortunate Lewis Ide, he said: “There was no one around him at the time and he got his foot stuck in the ground.

“He’s been in and had an MRI scan, and it looks like he’s done his cruciate ligaments.

“It’s such a shame, and everyone at the club is gutted for him.”

Two more players will also be missing at the weekend having left the Dripping Pan for pastures new.

Club legend Simon Wormull ended his second spell with Lewes after completing a move to Three Bridges at the end of last week.

‘Worms’ was part of the Rooks side which won the Conference South championship in 2008.

The team broke up after manager Steve King’s departure, and Wormull left Lewes to go to Eastbourne Borough in the summer of 2008.

The 33-year-old midfielder failed to get a regular place at Borough, however, and rejoined Lewes in the summer after another spell with King at Farnborough.

Former Republic of Ireland youth international O’Shea was full of praise for Wormull, who’d bagged 3 goals for the Rooks this season.

He said: “Simon has been fantastic for this club, and the supporters love him.

“At his age he felt it was time explore other avenues, and when the opportunity at Three Bridges came up, the move was the right one for his career.”

The other player to leave the club in the last fortnight was striker Tim Rivers, who made the move to Isthmian League Division One South side Eastbourne Town.

Although Lewes retain a stake in the youngster as the transfer was a dual registration deal, Rivers is leaving the UK next year anyway to undertake a scholarship in the US.

With more frosty weather forecast this weekend, Lewes FC are praying for some Californian sun rather than the anticipated Alaskan cold.

Hampton & Richmond might be just three league spots ahead of 19th-placed Lewes, but they boast seven more points and a game in hand. On top of that, they go into Saturday’s clash on the back of a triumphant 4-1 win away at AFC Sudbury in the first round of the FA Trophy.

O’Shea said: “We’re just hoping to play a league game to be honest, but the forecast isn’t looking good.

“It’s a hard place to get a win from at the best of times, and especially this week after their success in the cup.

“We’re far from full strength at the moment either – Jermaine Wright is suspended, and Chris Breach faces a late fitness test.

“I’ll have to fiddle about a bit with the team, but we’ll be going there to give Hampton a game.”

n HASTINGS United have appointed Jason Hopkinson as their new manager. Hopkinson, who earned himself legendary status while worked alongside Steve Ibbitson at Lewes, replaces Tony Dolby, who stepped down at the Pilot Field on Sunday.

Ibbitson, now Lewes FC chairman, paid tribute to Hopkinson in a special piece written this week on the club website.

Ibbo said: “I know as much as anybody about the running of Lewes FC over the past two years. Believe me, without Jason, we wouldn’t be here today.

“He’s given up hours and hours of his own time and unbelievable commitment for the club.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Jason and the club has properly recognised the debt it owes him by making him a Life Member.

“I hope that we’re only lending him to Hastings and that, following success there, some day he’ll be back working for Lewes again.”