Remarkable late Lewes comeback sees Crabb pinch a point

Lewes v Witham. Pictures by Angela Brinkkhurst
Lewes v Witham. Pictures by Angela Brinkkhurst

A remarkable late comeback saw Lewes pick up an unlikely point against Witham Town after being second-best for much of the game reports Tom Harper.

Garry Wilson included two new signings in the starting line-up, with former Rooks captain Chris Breach returning for his third spell at the club and midfielder Dean Lovegrove coming into the side having recently been playing in America. Wilson was also able to call upon Phil Appiah, who returned to the side after missing the midweek FA Trophy draw with Heybridge Swifts through suspension.

There were few chances of note in the opening stages, with both sides struggling to test the opposition’s defence. It took almost half an hour for there to be any goalmouth action, as Rikki Banks had to be alert to parry a long-range effort from Lewis Godbold.

Moments later, Lewes came close to taking the lead as Nathan Crabb glanced an in-swinging Leroy Griffiths cross towards the bottom corner, only to be denied the opening goal by a fine save from Witham goalkeeper Martyn Guest.

The visitors were looking the more dangerous side though, and saw Banks deny Ryan Charles with a smart save at his near post before Godbold sent a diving header from a Luke Callander cross against the post. This pressure told three minutes before half-time, as Witham took the lead. Callander was the scorer, sending a close-range strike past Banks after good work down the right from Ellis Brown.

Banks was called into action against just minutes after the break, as he made a superb save to keep out a header from point-blank range after Lewes had been unable to deal with a corner. Witham deservedly doubled their lead after 57 minutes, as an in-swinging Tom Wraight free-kick was headed past Banks from close-range by Joshua Banton.

The visitors were controlling the game at this stage, and should have extended their lead when Brown forced another fine save from Banks after cutting inside following a quickly-taken free-kick. Lewes looked short of confidence, and it seemed like only a matter of time before Witham would add another goal to their lead.

The introduction of attacking trio Henry Muggeridge, Elliott Romain and Luke Blewden from the bench gave the visiting defence a bit more to think about but they still didn’t look like conceding.

That was until seven minutes from time, as Guest dropped an effort from Wheeler, allowing Blewden to roll the ball home from almost on the line to make it three goals in three games against Witham this season.

The visitors understandably tried to run the clock down at this stage, whilst continuing to look dangerous on the counter-attack. The Rooks were given one last chance to find an equaliser three minutes into injury-time as they won a corner.

Banks was sent forward and with Witham unable to pick up every Lewes player in the box, Nathan Crabb was able to head Davis’ excellent delivery into the bottom corner from close range and earn the Rooks a point which had seemed almost impossible just ten minutes earlier.

Next up for Lewes is a trip to Heybridge Swifts for an FA Trophy replay on Tuesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.

Lewes: Banks, S. Crabb, Lovegrove (Muggeridge 64), Rowe, Breach, Badger (Blewden 77), Wheeler, Davis, Griffiths (Romain 64), N. Crabb, Appiah.

Unused Subs: Fergany, Logan.

Booked: S. Crabb, Lovegrove, Breach, Griffiths.

Witham Town: Guest, Mead, Wraight, Banton, King, Blackman, Brown, Paxman, Callander (Smith 81), Godbold, Charles (Emmanuel 49).

Unused Subs: Maxwell, Pedulu, Regis.

Booked: Wraight, Banton, King, Smith, Emmanuel.

Referee: Ben Knight

Attendance: 404