Lewes were left shell-shocked as ex-manager Steve King’s first return to the Dripping Pan as a manager saw him preside over a 5-1 demolition of his old team, with another former Lewes favourite bagging a hat-trick.
King, the man who led Lewes into the Conference National by winning the 2007/08 Blue Square South championship before being shown the door in dramatic and highly controversial fashion, returned with five of his title-winning side in his side. And it didn’t take long for Lewes fans to see what they may have been missing, with former Rooks striker Paul Booth scoring twice before the fifth minute was up on the way to a hat-trick against his old club.
Booth’s first goal came with just two minutes and 56 seconds gone on the scoreboard as he turned the ball home from close range. His second, a coolly-taken side-footer into the bottom corner, hit the net with four minutes and 16 seconds showing elapsed on the board. Another former 2008 championship-winning Rooks, Dale Binns, had been heavily involved in creating both goals on the way to an outstanding day on the left flank.
Fears amongst the home fans in the 798-strong crowd of a humiliating rout were averted somewhat when their under-fire side managed to avoid conceding a third in quick succession, despite chances falling to James Smith and Keizie Ibe. Then the Rooks found themselves back in a contest when, on 27 minutes, Gary Noel saw his shot dribble over the line after keeper Michael Jordan had palmed away a David Wheeler shot following an excellent turn and run into the box by the Lewes wingman.
But dreams of an unlikely comeback were soon dashed when a Jack King shot from the edge of the box took a slight deflection off a Lewes defender and looped over Chris Winterton into the back of his net. Binns was again involved in the build-up to that goal, on 35 minutes.
And the game was all but over with four minutes of the first half still to play when Booth beat his marker for both pace and strength from a long Farnborough clearance before sending a sublime chip over Winterton for his third and his side’s fourth.
Lewes showed more fight, creativity and defensive resolution after the break – although the man who captained Lewes to that 2008 title, Steve Robinson, nearly made it five for Farnborough but somehow missed an open goal from six yards 10 minutes into the second half.
The closest the home team came to scoring again was a superb 25 yard effort from half-time substitute Jamie Crellin that whizzed agonisingly past Jordan’s right post.
Tim O’Shea’s men were at least drawing the second half – until that is Kezie Ibe’s 85th minute strike that nearly burst the back of Winterton’s net after Binns had once again caused havoc down Lewes’s right hand side.
Lewes’s battle to avoid relegation wasn’t helped by Thurrock earning a point in a 0-0 draw away to Hampton & Richmond, although at least Maidenhead United and Bishop’s Stortford did both lose.
LEWES: Winterton, Evans (Green 45), Hamilton, Wright, Breach, Davies, Wheeler, Holness, Noel, Hill (Crellin 45), Welsh (Hunt 79).
F’BORO: Jordan, Sankofa, Braham-Barrett, King (Malcolm 75), Robinson, Smith, McMahon, Holloway, Ibe, Booth (McDonald 80), Binns (Price 86).