An impressive display from league leaders Maidstone United saw Lewes’ five-match unbeaten run come to an end at the Pan reports Tom Harper.
With the visitors having won all but one of their league games so far this season, it was unsurprising that they started on the front foot. A goal-bound effort was blocked by Sam Cole, and Rikki Banks was forced into a fine-save to keep out a close-range effort from Frannie Collin after a Matt Bodkin corner had been headed back into the danger area inside the opening minutes.
Lewes gradually found their feet though, and the pace of Elliott Romain, presented with the Supporters’ Player of the Month award for August pre-match, was unsettling a Maidstone defence who were otherwise comfortable for long periods. The visitors could have taken the lead approaching half-time, as Collin stopped a long ball from going behind and teed up Jack Parkinson to shoot just wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Maidstone started the second half brightly, with both Parkinson and Bodkin seeing close-range efforts comfortably saved by Banks within minutes of the restart. The visitors got the breakthrough their pressure deserved after 61 minutes, as a long throw from the left wasn’t cleared and the ball eventually fell to Alex Flisher who sent a low shot across Banks and into the bottom corner.
The Rooks nearly equalised immediately, as a Nick Wheeler cross-shot from the left-hand side of the penalty area came back off the inside of the far post. This lucky escape for the visitors turned into an opportunity to launch a counter-attack, as Jay May saw an acrobatic volley from point-blank range superbly saved by Banks after an impressive cross from the right from Aaron Simpson.
May was continuing to look the most likely to double Maidstone’s lead, as he showed good anticipation to latch onto a mis-timed clearance from Ollie Rowe but volleyed just over when clean through. The visitors made the game safe with five minutes remaining, as substitute Michael Phillips exchanged passes with May before finishing past Banks from close range at the end of an impressive passing move.
Things got even worse for the Rooks, as they had to finish the game with ten men due to Fraser Logan having to go off injured after Lewes had made all three substitutions. The final minutes passed without incident, as Lewes fell to their first defeat in three weeks against a side who are bound to be competing for the title at the end of the season.
This was not a poor display from the Rooks, who looked relatively organised defensively after a shaky first ten minutes and looked capable of causing the Maidstone defence problems at times during the first half. However, the visitors took control after going ahead and apart from Wheeler’s effort hitting the post, Lewes never really looked like getting back into the game.
The Rooks have an opportunity to put this result behind them when they face VCD Athletic at the Pan on Wednesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.
Lewes: Banks, Brinkhurst, Cole (Dodd 66), Rowe, John, Appiah (Stinson 74), Wheeler, Dixon, Romain (Fergany 83), Crabb, Logan.
Unused Subs: Blewden, Treleaven.
Maidstone United: Worgan, Simpson, Mills, Coyne, Miles, Rogers, Bodkin (Brown 68), Parkinson, May (Miller 88), Collin (Phillips 82), Flisher.
Unused Subs: Greenhalgh, Godmon.
Booked: Simpson, Coyne.
Referee: Aji Ajibola