Lewes more than held their own against a full-strength Brighton side in front of a full house at the Dripping Pan last night (Tuesday).
The Rooks lost 3-0 in the end but matched their Championship neighbours for most of a very evenly-contested first half, when the Seagulls were fielding their first choice side.
It took until the very final seconds of the half before Albion broke the deadline, Ashley Barnes turning home a left-foot shot from close range following good build-up work from Romain Vincelot and former Rook Solly March.
The second half saw Lewes lose much of the shape that had impressed in the first period, not wholly surprisingly given the many changes both sides made. Indeed, Brighton sent out a completely different XI to start the second half of the game.
And goals from Will Hoskins, from the penalty spot, and Torbjorn Agestein gave the scoreline a more convincing hue for the visitors but in truth it was a beneficial night for both sides. As always it was a useful workout for both sets of players – but for Lewes Community Football Club it was a night to earn a few vital extra pennies for the coffers and attract some new faces through the Dripping Pan turnstiles, while for the Albion it was an opportunity to create greater links in the wider Sussex footballing community.
The spectators in the capacity 2,000-strong crowd were treated to most of the stellar names that the near neighbours from the Amex had to offer – although not former England, Chelsea and Manchester City star Wayne Bridge, who was nursing a groin injury.
But stars such as Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua graced the Dripping Pan turf, while significant summer Albion signings such as former Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and Spanish star Bruno, signed last month from Valencia, also played a full 45 minues each.
See this Friday’s Sussex Express for a match report, plus pictures and reaction from both camps.
LEWES: Kieron THORP (Pavel SZELEMEJ 51), Jay CONROY (Dan Bolwell 41), Lewis HAMILTON (Charlie LEACH 63), Jack WALDER (Layton SCHAAF 72), Steve ROBINSON (Lee COOPER 80), Chris BREACH (Kelvin BROWN 87), Jack LYONS, Karl BECKFORD, Nathan CRABB (Ryan FERGANY 80), Steve BRINKHURST (Arron HOPKINSON 63), Max HOWELL (Trevor MCCREADIE 58).
ALBION first half: Tomasz Kuszczak, Inigo CALDERON, Gordon GREER, Adam EL-ABD, Romain VINCELOT, Liam BRIDCUTT, Ashley BARNES, Anton RODGERS, Will BUCKLEY, Craig MACKAIL-SMITH, Solly MARCH.
ALBION second half: Peter BREZOVAN; BRUNO, Tommy ELPHICK, Lewis DUNK, Ben SAMPAYO; Torbjorn AGESTEIN, Gary DICKER, Ryan HARLEY, Matt SPARROW, Will HOSKINS, Kazenga LUALUA.
Lewes’ pre-season preparations continued at Worthing on Saturday, with a Steve Robinson header 13 minutes from time helping the Rooks to a hard-fought 1-1 draw. Steve Metcalfe had given the hosts the lead just past the hour mark.