Wormull: Rooks’ New Year’s Day clash with Hastings has added spice

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Simon Wormull described Lewes’ New Year Day’s game with Hastings United on Tuesday as having “added spice” because the players are so familiar with one another it will “be like mates playing each other”.

With ex-Rooks players Jamie Crellin, Lee Carey and Scott Manning all in the Hastings camp, and ex-Arrow Jack Walder now playing for Lewes, both sides will know a lot about the other team.

And that will only add to the desire to gain bragging rights in what Wormull described as a “massive game” between “arch rivals”.

The Lewes boss, speaking directly after the disappointing 2-1 loss to Thurrock yesterday, said his young Rooks side, having played back-to-back games on a heavy Dripping Pan surface, suffered a “blip” against a Thurrock team who enjoyed an extended break due to their Boxing Day with local rivals East Thurrock being called off.

“It’s difficult because Thurrock haven’t played a game for 10, 14 days,” said Wormull. “So they’re fresh and gagging to play.

“I think after the game on Boxing Day (a 1-0 win over West Sussex rivals Bognor Regis Town) there was so much emotion. I mean, we did have to work hard - even though we won 1-0, it was a tough tough game.

“And I think it was just a little bit of a hangover from that today. We’re all disappointed but the beauty of it is we’ve got a game in three days time to put that right.”

One of the few positive notes from yesterday’s game was a goal on debut from Callum Donaghey, signed the previous evening from Crawley Down Gatwick.

“Yes, Callum’s done great,” said Wormull. “Obviously he’s been playing regularly anyway for Crawley Down and we managed to get him signed on last night, and it was great for him to get a goal.

“And he done well; it was a bit of a baptism of fire throwing him in - I thought the forwards that he was playing against were decent forwards today. But he acquitted himself well, I though he did really well today for a debut. And he’ll get better and better.

“I think second half we didn’t really create anything , there wasn’t too much to shout about. And then the football goes and you start throwing it long and we played into their hands a little bit, which was a bit frustrating.

“But like I said to them, for me in the last six games we turned a corner; we’ve had some fantastic performances. And obviously we had the last two wins (against Concord and Bognor) and all we’ve got to now is to turn that back into wins, (starting) on Tuesday against Hastings.

“It’s disappointing but I think if we’re realistic enough we’ve got to accept those performances are going to happen. Because if you look at the amount of football these boys are playing, and they’re young footballers, they’re going to have off days - they’re going to feel heavy-legged every now and then.

“And I think if you’re honest, if we’d come away with a 1-1 today we’d have been happy with that. But obviously the own goal has given them the win and we’re chasing it.

“But I’m not going to get too hung up on it. Like I just said to them, the reaction (that matters) is what I see on Tuesday now. So the boys have got to look after themselves and prepare ready for that.

“There’ll be changes again (for the Hastings game) but we’re not going to change too much, again, because it’s these boys who have got us in the position we’re in with those good performances.

“I’m looking at it like it’s a little blip. It’s not a major problem, it’s a little blip. I don’t think it warranted that (asked if voices were raised or tea cups thrown in the dressing room afterwards), the boys were disappointed in themselves enough anyway.

“But we’ve now got a massive game against our arch-rivals, with 11 players that we all know.

“It’s going to be like mates playing, and that gives added spice to it as well. And obviously Jack Walder has played for Hastings, so there’s a player who will want to go back there and play well.

“So it’s important we make sure we’re ready for that. It’s a massive game for us and it’ll be on a decent pitch which will help us, because it was very heavy out there today. So we’re looking forward to it.”

Asked if he thought Hastings’ players or staff might have one eye on their big FA Cup third round tie at Middlesbrough just four days later, Wormull said: “Realistically they have to be looking at their league form, which isn’t good. So if they’re willing to rest players for their day out the week after then that’s great for us.

“But I think Sean (Ray, the Arrows’ player/manager) will know that this is a big game between us and obviously there are bragging rights to be had, and we want to go there and win it.”

The game between Hastings United and Lewes kicks off at the Pilot Field, Hastings, at 3pm on Tuesday, January 1.