Lewes finished the season in style with a 5-1 thrashing of Leiston, writes Barry Collins.
Leiston scrapped for every ball when the two sides fought out a 2-2 draw in Suffolk in January. This time round, Leiston’s defence weren’t so much fighting them on the beaches, as on the beach already.
The entire back line went AWOL after only six minutes, when Joel Ledgister sprang what we’ll generously describe as an “offside trap” and had enough time to watch a Kevin Costner box set before unleashing a shot. It was parried by goalkeeper Rossis, but straight into the path of captain Luke Blewden. 1-0.
It took the ruthless Rooks just another six minutes to double the lead. Nicky Wheeler tormented the Leiston right-back with a jinking run, unleashed a long-range drive, and Rossis once again handed Blewden a gift.
The third was another act of generosity from the Leiston back four. A crossed ball from the right was allowed to go right across the box before a Leiston defender finally decided to intervene. He dallied just long enough for Wheeler to nip the ball off his toe, and the winger teed up Jack Dixon to score his 19th goal of the season with a powerful half-volley.
Blewden completed a first-half hat-trick on 41 minutes. This time the Leiston defence made him work for his goal, bustling past two defenders before driving a low shot past Rossis. 4-0, and even Rooks fans wary of a poultry head-count after this season’s reversal at Canvey Island were sure nothing could go wrong now.
The fifth arrived just a minute into the second half. The hapless Rossis shanked a clearance into Nicky Wheeler, who took his time before slipping the ball beneath the keeper.
Leiston’s defence weren’t the only ones hanging up their boots. Matt Crabb came on to a warm ovation on 65 minutes, the combative midfielder having announced his plans to retire the day before. Rhys Murrell-Williamson and Steve Brinkhurst were also handed cameo appearances, as Lewes ran down the clock.
They briefly lost concentration on 81 minutes, as Emmanuel Osei nipped the ball off Lovett, rounded Banks and beat Brinkhurst’s swan-dive on the line to give Leiston scant consolation. But this was, despite their opponents’ ineptitude, a resounding Rooks appearance, not least from man-of-the-match Luke Blewden.Blewden took another gong before the day was over, claiming third place in the Supporters Club Player of the Season award, despite only arriving midway through the season. Second place went to midfield goal-machine, Jack Dixon, but the trophy itself remains in the Crabb family, passing from Nathan to brother Sam.