LEWES earned their third straight win in just over a week following another game of two halves from the Rooks.
Steve King’s men did enough to pick up the points against Sussex rivals Horsham at Gorings Mead on Bank Holiday Monday.
But just like their performance 48 hours earlier at home to Billericay, the Rooks followed an impressive first half display with a less than inspiring second period. The only goal of the game came on 24 minutes through a Paul Booth header from six yards out.
But the visitors to West Sussex could have added to their tally before the break through chances that fell to Jamie Cade, Michael Malcolm and Dominic Sterling.
However, after the interval, King’s men once again lacked the intensity and cohesion they had shown before the break – just as they had done in their 2-1 victory over Billericay.
King later admitted it was an issue that needed addressing, but quite rightly pointed out that it’s no bad sign if teams can win still win games where they’re not at their best.
After a quiet start, the first real chance of the game came about 10 minutes in when Malcolm, carrying over the mischievous form he’d shown on the Saturday, terrified the Horsham defence with a jinking run into the box. A panicked Hornets defender somehow arrested his otherwise inevitable path towards goal, but the ball fell to the left foot of Cade, who was unable to keep his curling effort down. But the Rooks took a deserved lead a dozen of so minutes later when Booth aimed a looping header, from a Nic Ciardini cross, perfectly past Horsham keeper Matthew Armstrong-Ford.
Horsham had a rare opportunity on the Lewes goal when the ball fell to Jahmahl King but the centre half hit a defender’s shot and the ball skewed wide from a good position.
Cade again fired high and wide when he pounced on a loose ball following more panic caused in the Horsham box from the irrepressible Malcolm. There were strong appeals from the away team that Malcolm had been brought to ground illegally but the referee failed to award the penalty.
And Malcolm was in the thick of it again moments later when a superb run resulted in a fierce shot being palmed away excellently by Armstrong-Ford.
Booth then had a chance to double his and his side’s tally when the ball was played into him in the box but the experienced striker fired wide.
Lewes left back Sterling then found himself in an unusually advanced position when he headed a cross from the right over the bar when he should have perhaps at least found the target.
Horsham at least finished the half on a high, dominating territory for the last five minutes if not creating any clear cut chances on goal. A cross-cum-shot from Tony Nwachukwu – the impressive attacking wide man on the left of Horsham’s 4-3-3 formation – flashed past the Lewes goal, drawing the biggest reaction of the half from the home fans amongst the 434-strong crowd.
The second half was, as mentioned, something of a disappointment. Ian Draycott had a good chance to score within moments of coming on for Booth but his right foot shot went wide following a delightful drag back inside the box. Malcolm then had a great chance when he got between two markers six yards out and on the end of a cross from the right by Lewis Hamilton, but the forward seemed to head the ball into his shoulder and the tame effort was collected by Armstrong-Ford.
Horsham, at the other end, did their best to press for an equaliser but their most threatening moments came when Lewes conceded a couple of free kicks in dangerous positions 30 or so yards out.
Even these failed to trouble Robinson in the away goal. Indeed, the only moment of panic for the Rooks No.1 came when a ball he seemed to have collected into his gloves somehow spilled out, but no home player was on hand to take advantage of his mistake.
King said: “First half we were very very good. We could have gone three or four to the good. They weren’t in our class, that’s not to disrespect them but they weren’t. We were in total control of the game. And we should have had a penalty. The referee said he was playing the advantage but there wasn’t an advantage.”
The Lewes boss went on: “It became scrappy second half and we let them back in it, and with a little bit of luck they could have nicked something – not that they would have deserved to. It was the same on Saturday: total control first half and second half we got sloppy. It was almost like we felt we had done enough.
“We’re scoring all our goals in the first half. But it takes time (for a team to gel). And all the time we keep winning and we’re only playing half the game well, that can’t be bad.”
Nwachukwu was Horsham’s most influential player on the day but, as King pointed out, he didn’t actually threaten the Lewes goal directly.
“He’s been their danger man in their last two games, but he didn’t do anything today. He had a couple of efforts that went across the goal, but he didn’t do anything to hurt us today. Stuart didn’t have to make a save.”
HORNETS: Matthew ARMSTRONG-FORD; Yinka SALAMI (capt); Bernard ASANTE; Tommy YOULE (Harvest OSUYA 85); Jahmahl KING; Jake JACOBS; Dane LUCHFORD; Williams PEAUROUX (Adam HUTCHINGS 64); Daniel MORRIS; Kane RICE (Conor HIDER 71); Tony Nwachukwu.
ROOKS: Stuart ROBINSON; Malvin KAMARA (Lewes HAMILTON 52); Dominic STERLING; Matt SOMNER; Steve ROBINSON (capt); Max HUSTWICK; Jamie CADE (Aaron WATSON 64); Hakeem ADELAKUN; Michael MALCOLM; Paul BOOTH (Ian DRAYCOTT 59); Nic CIARDINI.