In terms of great days, few can beat the combination of beautiful sunshine, a win against the league leaders and winning some money out of the blue. Oh, and a choice of 20 different guest ales. So perhaps I should have simply called it a day at 5.30pm on Saturday in terms of supporting Lewes. But football just keeps sucking you back doesn’t it? So here I am, pint in hand watching us take on Maidstone United, currently second place in the Ryman Premier League on a chilly Tuesday evening.
Thanks to the weather it is Saturday-Tuesday for Lewes until the end of the season, with nearly twice as many games still to play at home than away. Only Wealdstone have lost fewer games than Lewes this season, leaving us to think about the “what-ifs” from earlier in the season when we drew games we could have won (other the other hand we were drawing games than last season we would have lost). The re-arranged fixtures meant that the top four teams in the Ryman Premier League had to visit The Pan in the space of four weeks in March. Dulwich Hamlet opened the festivities on Saturday with Maidstone United following quickly behind.
Today had been another good day even before I reached the Lansdowne for the pre-match warm up. Being Pancake Day I headed up to Borough Market in my lunch hour to see if I could grab a sweet treat. As I walked around the market I saw a familiar face albeit one that was a lot thinner than usual. Television is supposed to make people look fatter but Man versus Food’s Adam Richmann looked as if he had shed his twin brother. Thanks to Luge Pravda’s eagle-eyed twitter search he had discovered Richmann was in town to do some pancake judging and lo-and-behold he just happened to be standing next to me.
Richmann is a big Spurs fan, although he admitted he had always had a soft-spot for the Hammers. “Oh, my God. Frankie McAvennie. Now he was the Brad Pitt of the 1980’s. I loved his Capri Sport”. A few tourists came up and WE, yes WE posed for photos. As I walked away someone even asked me who WE were. Of course five minutes later when my mobile rang and I had to field another question about DPML exceptions (one for the real techies) I was brought back to earth with an almighty bump. Head down, work finished, it was finally time for some football.
Lewes 1 Maidstone United 0 – The Dripping Pan – Tuesday 4th March 2014
If Saturday was a day up there with my wedding day then today wasn’t too far off. Perhaps on a par with the day I found my brother’s secret stash of Fiesta and Razzle? Or perhaps the first time I drove my Dad’s car without him knowing? Just three days after we brought the league leaders down to earth with a firm bump, Lewes humbled another top side with a dogged performance at Fortress Pan.
Maidstone may be at home on their synthetic utopia at The Gallagher Stadium, but on the patched up Lewes pitch they struggled to impose their physical superiority against another hard-working Rooks side. And for the second time in a row it was thanks to a goalkeeping blunder than gave us all three points. The first half of the game was pretty even, with Lewes trying to use the flanks to create an opening, As we approached the half-hour mark Lewes were awarded a free kick around 40 yards out on the right hand side. With the box packed with players from both teams, Fraser Logan sent in a high free-kick towards the back post. Defenders waited for forward to run in, forwards waited for defenders to make the first move. The stalemate meant nobody attacked the ball and the Maidstone keeper Worgan was helplessly out of position rooted to this goal line and the ball sailed into the net. Not quite the forty yarder that you’d tell your grandkids about but it was good enough to give Lewes the lead.
We all stood on the Philcox in the second half expecting an onslaught from Maidstone. They huffed and puffed but didn’t seem to realise that they were attacking against two centre-backs with a combined age of nearly 80 and having both played 90 minutes on Saturday. Someone hadn’t done their homework on Lewes. But on the flip-side the high tempo performance of the Rooks side, especially the five man midfield who hunted in packs ensured that they not only won the battle but also created chances for the tireless Blewden and tricky Wheeler. It could have ended up more than just the single goal, but not one of the 570 fans, well at least the Lewes portion, will bemoan a nervous last few minutes to secure another clean sheet and more importantly another three points.
After the game the teams stood arm in arm in the middle of the pitch (pictured above by the lovely James Boyes) and let the victory sink in. They had given their all, as too had we the fans. Even the two-hour train ride home was that much sweeter with three more points and another inspirational performance. Roll on Saturday when those party-poopers from last week, Grays Athletic, make the trip down to the Pan.