Grey day at Cray: No happy return for Lewes' new bosses
There was no happy return to Cray Wanderers for Tony Russell and Joe Vines as the Rooks went down 3-1 at Hayes Lane in their Isthmian premier opener, writes Tom Harper.
There were plenty of competitive debutants in Tony Russell's new-look side, as well as Fintan Walsh and Nic D'Arienzo, who both featured for the Rooks last season.
The hosts started brightly and saw Adam Coombes go close twice early on, hitting the foot of the post after beating Mitchell Nelson to a long ball forward, before lifting another effort just over the bar minutes later.
Lewes began to pose more of a threat going forward after these early scares though, with Ollie Tanner hitting the side-netting from inside the area after Joe Taylor had seen a close-range strike blocked.
The hosts made the most of this by taking the lead on 16 minutes, as Coombes headed a corner from the left back across goal for the unmarked Anthony Cook to volley past Lewis Carey. Cray doubled their lead nine minutes later, as Cook capitalised on hesitant defending to run through and finish across Carey and into the bottom corner.
Lewes were seeing plenty of the ball but found it difficult to turn this possession into clear-cut opportunities as the half progressed. The Rooks were able to halve the deficit eight minutes before the break through Tanner, who cut in from the left before unleashing a powerful strike across Jack Turner and into the far corner.
Cray continued to look a threat going forward though, and Carey had to be alert to deny Jamie Yila and Cook to keep the score at 2-1 heading into half-time.
Lewes started the second half brightly and began to stretch the Cray defence with their movement in the final third. Despite this, the closest the Rooks came to levelling the scores during this spell saw Taylor just fail to connect with a low Killian Colombie cross in front of goal.
Cray restored their two-goal advantage midway through the half, as Coombes was picked out with time and space in the area and he was able to draw Carey off his line before squaring for Yila to finish into the empty net.
The hosts continued to push for more goals in the closing stages and saw both Yila and Sadik Balarabe denied by Carey either side of an Annis Nuur strike, which went just over the bar at the end of an incisive counter-attack.
Lewes were unable to find a way back into the game late on and were left to reflect on a frustrating start to the season against an impressive Cray side.
The Rooks take on Cheshunt in their first home game of the season at the Pan next Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.
Lewes: Carey, Walsh (D'Arienzo 46), Colombie, Nelson, Weaire, Klass, Tanner, Pritchard (Olukoga 56), Taylor, Parker, Allen (De-Graft 57).
Unused Subs: Dent, Richards.
Attendance: 305 - approximately 90 Rooks
Report courtesy of lewesfc.com