Lewes dropped two points again thanks to another late goal at the Dripping Pan in this entertaining 1-1 draw against Kingstonian today (Saturday).
Simon Wormull had taken the step up from running the Lewes U18s to share first team management duties with striker Paul Booth following Steve King’s shock suspension by the club earlier in the week.
But Wormull could not stop the result ending in similar fashion to the Rooks’ last home game, when, on New Year Bank Holiday Monday, King watched as Horsham snatched a last gasp equaliser to secure the same 1-1 scorline.
The K’s leveller didn’t come quite as late as the fourth minute of stoppage time (as the Hornets’ equaliser had) but to concede from a sloppy piece of defensive play with nine minutes to go will feel just as sickening.
The Rooks were leading 1-0 thanks to a 17th minute penalty, coolly taken by Booth after Harry Harding had been tripped in the box by Aaron Goode.
Ironically, the home team were only just starting to look the value for their lead when their opponents scored.
If anything, Kingstonian were the more impressive team in the first half and it took Lewes until the second before they started to really dominate the play – and the hosts had just been enjoying their best spell of pressure when Kingstonian equalised.
In the 81st minut, a throw-in was awarded to the K’s down their left, and Alan Dowson’s men stole a few yards in taking it and the Rooks defence was slow to react as striker Stuart Duff stole in to slide the ball under goalkeeper Rikki Banks.
A draw was probably a fair result but Lewes need to keep winning if they are to stay in the hunt for the Ryman Premier title. Billericay Town, the only one of the three teams above Lewes that were playing in the league today, won 2-0 at home to Wingate & Finchley.
The first real chance of the game came on eight minutes when Duff outpaced the two Lewes centre halves to get to the ball first. But the K’s No.9 inexplicably shot high and wide when just eight yards out.
Former Rook Tom Hutchinson then headed wide from a Kingstonian free kick.
Banks had just made a good save from Matthew Pattison when Lewes struck at the other end. Referee Nolan Wilde adjudged Goode to have fouled Harding in the box and Booth showed his experience to step up and send Rob Tolfrey the wrong way.
The K’s manager later admitted he had no problem with the official giving the penalty. But he did have a beef with a call from Mr Wilde minutes later, when the K’s boss was sent from the dug-out for complaining about a decision from Wilde not to give Kingstonian an indirect free kick in the Lewes box for a possible back pass picked up by Banks.
And another early finish to the match saw Hutchinson’s return to the Dripping Pan ended early when the defender was forced off with injury on 34 minutes and replaced by Ian Gayle.
Kingstonian’s top scorer from open play this season, surpisingly centre half Gary McDonald, nearly added to his tally of six goals when he flashed a Pattison cross just wide from 12 yards.
Christian Nanetti was booked for simulation 12 minutes into the second half when he went flying in the K’s box. It had followed a lovely flowing move involving Booth and Michael Malcolm which had set Nanetti free on the left. Nanetti was arguably lucky not to have already been on a yellow for a first half tackle on Tom Bird that took both defenders’ legs clean away.
Things could have changed at either end midway through the second half, first Banks pulling off a superb saved to deny Pattison on 62 minutes before, a minute later, Malcolm firing over from 12 yards at the other end when the Lewes striker should have done better. Malcolm surged into the box from a Rooks counter attack long ball but lacked composure when he cut inside his marker and sliced a wild right foot shot over the bar.
Then came that concerted spell of pressure from Lewes, a spell which ended with Kingstonian scoring against the run of way.
There was still time for both teams to threaten to take all the spoils: first Matt Somner attempted a spectacular overhead shot in injury time that induced probably the biggest noise of the afternoon from the Philcox stand (the penalty having gone in at the other end). And at the other end, substitute Bobby Traynor (top K’s goalscorer in all play this season, with 10 goals including penalties) nearly turned the ball in on the swivel at the edge of the six yard box, his effort instead going over.
It was a decent effort from both teams, in front of a decent crowd of 711.
LEWES: Rikki BANKS, Malvin KAMARA , Lewis HAMILTON, Matt SOMNER, Steve ROBINSON, Max HUSTWICK, Christian NANETTI, Harry HARDING, Michael MALCOLM, Paul BOOTH (Ian DRAYCOTT 64), Nic CIARDINI.
Subs not used: Albert JARRETT, Alex STAVRINOU, Charlie LEACH, Max Howell.
Booked: Hamilton 53, Nanetti 57.