Lewes came from behind to avoid their second successive banana skin in the FA Cup today.
The Rooks trailed to a 14th minute Jimmy Davies goal at Sussex County League outfit Redhill before a stike from Nathan Crabb and a brace from Arron Wickham saw Simon Wormull’s men safely into the second qualifying round.
The Dripping Pan outfit were anxious to avoid last year’s humiliating exit at the first hurdle, when they were bundled out 4-1 by another lower league outfit, Chertsey Town.
Lewes’ East Surrey hosts could have scored even before they took the lead, when – on seven minutes – Anton Innocent was slipped in by Leo Atkinson, but the Redhill forward made a hash of his effort, although Rooks keeper Pawel Szelemez did well to come out and smother the shot.
But seven minutes later the hosts were indeed ahead when a route one ball forward found Jimmy Davies, who blasted a low angled shot past Szelemez.
Lewes had a chance to equalise almost immediately but saw a shot blocked from close range in a goalmouth scramble.
But Wormull’s men did draw level on 23 minutes, when a free kick taken near the halfway line was headed neatly back across the face of goal by Chris Breach, where Nathan Crabb dived forward athletically to divert the ball past Robbie Whittaker.
And the Ryman Premier side were ahead on 36 minutes, when great build up play from Lewes led to Arron Wickham turning home his first goal for the club following his arrival on a month’s loan from Crawley Town.
The second half was a quieter affair, although Lewes had to be on their toes a couple of times to prevent Redhill forcing a replay.
And at the death, Wickham killed off the hosts when he latched on to a breakaway started by Max Howell and Crabb before finishing coolly into the bottom corner.
Wormull admitted afterwards that he wasn’t happy with his team’s performance, particularly their ability to keep the ball.
But he heaped praise on his makeshift defence consisting – at the end of the match – of the likes of Layton Shaaf and Charlie Leach.
Going into the game Breach had taken the captain’s armband due to the absence of Steve Robinson due to a leg injury. But Breach himself picked up an injury during the first half and had to be replaced at half time by Schaaf.
And even during the first half, Wormull was forced into a substitution when Lee Cooper limped off, to be replaced by Leach.
Wormull was forced into a fair amount of juggling, with Lewis Hamilton coming from left back to centre half, joining in a central defence another player more used to playing at full back, Jay Conroy.
And when Breach was unable to come out for the second half Leach switched from right back to left back to allow Schaaf play on the right – a position Schaaf had never played before.
Despite the enforced musical chairs, they held out manfully and now look forward to finding out who they play in the second qualifying round.
REDHILL: Whittaker, Acheanpong, Tanton, Bernal (Anderson), Doke, Trotter, Egan (Pink), Bingham, Davies, Atkinson (Sousa), Innocent.
UNUSED SUBS: Radford, Wescott, Addo-Dankna, Greaves.
LEWES: Szelemez, Cooper (Leach), Hamilton, Walder, Conroy, Breach (Schaaf), Brinkhurst, Dalhouse (Howell), Crabb, Wickham, Thomas.
UNUSED SUBS: Kay, Hopkinson, Stubbins.