A year ago Brighton & Hove Albion arrived at the Dripping Pan for their first pre-season friendly and put on a five-star show to underline the difference in status of the two sides.
This year it was a different story altogether as an organised, well-drilled Lewes side comfortably held the Championship side to a goal-less draw.
Steve Brown was able to choose from almost full strength squad that had been in pre-season training for a few weeks, with only Jordan Badger absent. He gave starts to trialists Jordan Wilson (previously at Grays Athletic), Steve Sutherland (Met Police) and Leon Redwood (Chelmsford City) in an experienced starting line-up that included the returning Tom Vickers, Nathan Crabb and Fraser Logan.
With the sun shining and the Dripping Pan pitch looking like a carpet it was good to see Lewes start so comfortably, passing the ball neatly to feet. The Rooks probably expected Brighton to press more than they did which led to a little bit of a mdfield stalemate, with Vickers and Logan seeing a lot of the ball. After just 15 minutes James Fraser limped off with a knee injury, replaced by Josh Marshall.
Brighton had the better chances of the half although Dan Hutchings was rarely troubled. The Rooks will feel that they should have had a penalty when keeper Maenpaa and Calderon combined to wrestle Nathan Crabb to the floor as a corner was delivered.
The second half started with only a couple of changes from the away side. Hutchings pulled off the save(s) of the match, beating out a fierce drive from Monakana and then reacting quickly to smother Calderon’s follow-up with the goal gaping in front of him. On 64 minutes the exodus of players occurred, with Brighton changing 9 of their 10 outfield players to bring a more youthful appearance to their side, although Brown soon introduced the young players of his own, with Welch, Brown, Conlon and Laing all giving the Rooks line-up a taste of the future.
Brighton will feel they should have won the game in the final few minutes when Joe Ward’s effort flashed across the goal. Lewes can take immense pride from their performance against a side six leagues higher. Whilst it was only a pre-season friendly, the signs for the season ahead for the Rooks look encouraging. It was a good day on and off the pitch for the Rooks in front of a sell-out crowd.
Next up is a trip down the A27 to visit our old friends at Worthing on Tuesday night, kick off 7.30pm.
Lewes: Hutchings, Wilson, Marsh-Brown (Lovett), Logan (Brinkhurst), Breach, Sutherland (Welch), Muggeridge (Conlon), Vickers (Brown), Crabb (Laing), Fraser (Marshall), Redwood (Levy)
Sub not used: Stroomberg
Brighton & Hove Albion: Maenpaa (Ankergren), Rosenoir (Hunt), White (Barclay), Dallison, Chicksen (Barnett), Calderon (Ward), Holla (Tighe), Ince (Harris), Tilley (Monakana), O’Grady (Akindayini), Colunga (Kandi)
Sub not used: Sanchez
Referee: Nigel Lugg
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