STEVE KING hailed his Lewes side’s Boxing Day domination of Hastings United as “the most one-sided game I’ve ever been involved in”.
The Rooks completely outplayed their hosts at the Pilot Field on Monday but required an 86th minute goal from Michael Malcolm to settle the outcome.
The 1-0 scoreline does not do justice to the outstanding performance of the men in blue and white (the Rooks were in their change colours for the day), and they could have been ahead after just 47 seconds when Ian Draycott inexplicably sliced wide from just three yards out.
The Rooks also saw Harry Harding hit the post from a first half header, and there were other near misses from Harding, Christian Nanetti and Malcolm. They also had appeals for a penalty for a foul on Harding turned down, while Malcolm had a goal chalked off for offside.
But Lewes’ utter dominance was ultimately rewarded when Albert Jarrett burst to the byline and clipped a sublime cross for Malcolm to head home from close range.
The outstanding Jarrett was – along with fellow wide man Christian Nanetti – a worthy candidate for man of the match as the Rooks tormented the U’s from the wings.
King said afterwards: “For me it was the most one-sided game I’ve ever been involved in: it was one-way traffic, chance after chance after chance.
“We hit the post, had a goal disallowed and should have had a penalty on Harry Harding.
“But we’ve dominated the whole game. We let them back in a little in the last 10 minutes, with a couple of scrappy chances, but that was our own doing.
“I thought our two wide men were outstanding. Albert Jarrett was outstanding, he’s way above this level but we’ll take advantage of that (having him at the club) at the moment.”
“And Nanetti was unbelievable. But I’ve seen him even better than that, last week against Tooting & Mitcham he was two or three times better than that – he was just unplayable last week.
“I thought that we controlled the game from start to finish. I thought our two centre halves were outstanding: Robbo (Steve Robinson), nothing went past him, and Max Hustwick was different class as well.
“We were so far ahead but the scoreline didn’t reflect that. We were thinking was it going to be one of those days when you dominate the game for 90 per cent of the time and it’s a 0-0?
“But we thoroughly deserved the game, no one can question that – (Sean Ray), their manager was just saying that to me – that they only got back into it in the last 15-20 minutes and had a little bit of a go.
“But I think it would have been a travesty if we didn’t win that game. It was like the most one-sided game I’ve been involved in. Draycott should have scored in the first minute – he’s inside the six-yard box with no one with him, easiest chance of the game.”
Of the Rooks’ failure to take their chances, the Lewes boss admitted: “We’ve got to kill off teams. All the approach play, all the quality, we do what we ask them to do, we get into good goalscoring positions and we’ve got to finish them off.
“We always say, league tables don’t lie; our for record is about 29/30 goals now and our against is fine, about 18 or 20, which is fine; but we need to score more. It’s not that we don’t create chances – we create chances. And when you think about the players that we’ve got... you know, Draycott’s scored 25 goals a year every single year for the last four years, Boothy’s (Paul Booth) always scored goals, Michael’s double figures this year, but we should be getting more.”
The deciding goal did come just minutes after Hastings’ Zac Attwood was shown a second yellow card for an innocuous-looking challenge in the centre of the park. But if the U’s man was unfortunate to receive a yellow for that challenge, then he was at least as fortunate, if not more so, to receive only a caution for an earlier crunching challenge on Nanetti that sent an echo of boot against shin pad vibrating through the main stand.
Of the dismissal, King said: “The first one, for me, his first tackle, he should have been sent off, because he just forgot the ball and booted the player! And I just think you can’t just boot people on a football pitch(!)
“When he gets a yellow for that he’s got off lightly. The second one was six-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-the-other, and he does have his eye on the ball, but I think he could have gone for the first tackle alone. You can’t just leave the ball and boot someone because they’ve nutmegged you.”
But of the all-round performance of his side, King reflected: “I’m pleased with the three points. The main objective of any football match is get the three points, how you get them doesn’t matter – play well and get your three points, it’s even better. And we have played well today: we’ve got another clean sheet and we’ve dominated a football match.
“The first half I can’t remember them in our box, they had a free kick that went out of the ground. They didn’t come in our box until the last 15 minutes, really.”
See this Friday’s Sussex Express for a full match report and more reaction from King.
HASTINGS: Matt ARMSTRONG-FORD, Jack DIXON, Ross SUTTON, Lee CAREY, Scott MANNING, Josh JIRBANDEY, Joe BARHAM, Jamie CRELLIN, Billy MEDLOCK (Pogue 73), Zac ATTWOOD, Ben DAVISSON. Subs not used: Matt WHITEHEAD; Arron HOPKINSON, Nick GONSALVES, Ryan THOMSON. Yellow cards: Attwood 60 mins; Attwood 83 mins; Crellin 90 mins.
LEWES; Rikki BANKS, Lewis HAMILTON, Nic CIARDINI, Matt SOMNER (Paul BOOTH 73), Max HUSTWICK, Alex STAVRINOU, Harry HARDING, Ian DRAYCOTT (Michael MALCOLM 59), Albert JARRETT, Christian NANETTI. Subs not used: Malvin KAMARA. Yellow cards: none.
REFEREE: Matt Eva. ATTENDANCE: 689.