“Not good enough,” was the verdict of Lewes assistant manager Danny Bloor, as Lewes ended their season-opening Essex trilogy with a 2-0 home defeat to Billericay, writes Barry Collins.
Two goals in the opening 18 minutes was enough for the visitors to put an end to Lewes’s unbeaten start to the season on a disappointing afternoon at the Pan.
Lewes certainly set out with the intention of claiming all three points. Elliot Romain, who was instrumental in turning around Wednesday’s match against Hornchurch, was given his first competitive start for the club on the right wing, with Luke Blewden moved back up front alongside Terry Dodd.
It was Billericay’s attack that dominated the opening period, however. The Blues took the lead on eight minutes, after the hulking Ricky Sappleton was fouled on the edge of the box. The former QPR and Leicester City striker picked himself up and took the free-kick, planting the ball in the top left-hand corner of Rikki Banks’ goal.
The visitors’ lead was doubled ten minutes later, when a shanked clearance from Lewes’s new left-back Jerome Jibodu found former Rook Callum Dunne. The midfielder took full advantage of the space that opened up in front of him, placing the ball low into the bottom-right corner.
Terry Dodd had a chance to halve the deficit just before half-time. He trapped a long ball over the top like a seagull catching a chip off the edge of the pier, but his finishing couldn’t match his exquisite control, as he dragged the shot wide of the far post.
With the Lewes management team reappearing for the second half five minutes before the players did, the tone of the dressing room conversation was abundantly clear, but there was to be no rousing second-half revival for the second time in four days.
Only a smart double save from Banks and the post prevented Billericay from extending their lead, as the visitors continued to out-muscle the Rooks, whilst using every available opportunity to run down the clock.
Brinkhurst, Branford and Nathan Crabb were all hauled from the bench to give Lewes more attacking options, and Crabb should have had a penalty with ten minutes left on the electronic scoreboard, when he was tripped in the box. The referee and his better-placed linesman exchanged lingering glances, but neither seemed willing to consummate the decision.
Lewes: Banks, Malins (Brinkhurst ,59), Jibodu, Rowe, Elphick, Logan (Branford, 50), Wheeler, Napper, Dodd, Blewden, Romain (Crabb, 70)
Unused subs: Sanderson, Marshall
Photographer Angela Brinkhurst was there.