It’s been fourteen games and nearly three years since Lewes’s first team squad won a Pre-Season Friendly. Of course we will always be told that at this stage of the season it is all about the performance and not the final score – but that’s three years, or to be precise 1,084 days of pre-season hurt. Only a very small percentage of fans turn out for the pre-season games – whether it is because of holidays, because you can’t every really gauge anything from them or simply on a day like today it is simply the chance to sit in the sunshine. Nobody would surely forsake the football for a trip to Ikea or B&Q megastore?
Once again we have a mix of opponents this season – Our headline game is the, now annual, visit of Brighton & Hove Albion next week with their full first team squad, whilst in a few weeks Alan Pardew will bring down his second string Palace side (which to a man will probably earn more in a week than we do in a year). Our home programme is completed by Eastbourne Borough in the “we play each other every year and really should get a cup but we can’t be bothered sort of way”. Away from home we visit Sussex League Hassocks, Ryman South League Worthing and today’s trip down the River Ouse and along a bit to the Sports Park at Peacehaven.
Last season the Magpies suffered the heartbreak of a last day relegation, having been two-nil up in their final game needing a win to be safe. Four second half goals, coupled with virtually every result going against them saw them relegated after just one season in the Ryman Premier League. Despite them being our nearest rivals, there’s no animosity between the two clubs and their loss will be felt by us this season in terms of two local derbies. So an opportunity for an early season local trip was more than welcome.
There’d been talk on the Lewes Forum in recent days as to whether we would be even able to raise a team. Some fans don’t seem to understand the fluid nature of pre-season and that you can announce a player as signed today and tomorrow he is off down the road for £3 more per week. Consequently, until we have 100% (or as close as we can get it) commitment, we will not announce someone as “signed”. I’m sure that frustrates some fans who are expecting news, but that’s the way we want to run things now.
The squad that traveled down the A26 then around the Newhaven one-way system before climbing up the A259 would certainly be a young one although there’s not alot that the centre-back pairing of Lovett and Breach haven’t seen in their time. Peacehaven on a sunny July afternoon is a great place to watch football. The beautiful Sussex Downs roll away in the distance, the seagulls were flying overhead and the Harvey’s was on draft. Heck, even the chips at £1.50 a pop were bringing a smile to Cynical Dave’s face.
Peacehaven & Telscombe 0 Lewes 3 – The Sports Park – Saturday 11th July 2015
“You’ll never win anything with kids” is probably one of the most famous lines ever uttered by a football pundit. Alan Hanson will forever be reminded of his words by Manchester United fans after their opening day defeat to Aston Villa back in August 1995. Those kids were the Neville brothers, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Lee Sharpe and of course David Beckham. Some kids, eh!
Nobody will get carried away with the result from the first game of Pre-season but those who did see the game will have all seen something we haven’t seen for a long time as Lewes fans. Players playing without fear. No fear of making a mistake. No fear of taking players on. No fear of trying a killer pass. One game does not make a season, but even if we saw half as much of the communication, enterprise and spirit as we did yesterday in our league campaign we would have made some significant progress.
The Rooks finished the game with seven players under the age of 21, and more importantly, playing good football. That to me is more important than the result. Short passing to feet rather than hoofing it long, especially from the back. Players talking to each other, encouraging each other.
For the record James Fraser opened the scoring on twenty minutes, slamming the ball home from ten yards after Jay Lovett’s goal-bound shot struck a Peacehaven arm. The second was a deft flick from Elliot Levy from a deep Redwood cross that the Peacehaven keeper should have grabbed and the third in the opening minutes of the second period was tapped in by Nathan Crabb after a horrible mix up between keeper and defender from a Lewes free-kick. It could have been more – the very impressive Alex Laing’s late free-kick cannoned off the bar.
Of course it will be a different story next Saturday when Chris Hughton brings his full Brighton & Hove Albion first team squad to the Pan. But once again, the result will be secondary – it will be about testing the mental strength of the squad, giving them experience of what they will come up against sometimes this season and above all learning from how the professionals do it.