Previously on Groundhog Season, the Rooks had kicked their play-off hopes in the shins by drawing 3-3 with Herne Bay – an exact mirror of the play-off scuppering 3-3 draw with Kingstonian at the exact same stage last season.
So, with an Easter Monday trip to Bognor Regis in prospect, the same fixture as we faced last year, you’d forgive the Rooks faithful for swerving this one. After all, last year’s 1-0 defeat was a game so bereft of incident, it would be easier to describe a black hole.
Well, not only did the Rooks turn up in massive numbers, but things happened. Lots of them. Mainly good things, too.
The Great Gondoh got us off to a flyer. There was barely two minutes on the clock when he profited from a Bognor defender’s brain fart, took the ball and slotted it low past the keeper.
Within six minutes, Gondoh had made it two. Deon Moore broke down the left and put in a wicked cross that the Bognor defence charitably diverted into the path of Gondoh, who buried it again. Two up inside eight minutes – what could possibly go wrong now?
Well, funny you should ask… Deon Moore is fouled midway inside the Bognor half, and the Bognor player pins him down on the ground for good measure. Deon doesn’t take kindly to the UFC treatment, gets up and raises his hands to the Bognor defender. He, of course, goes down like a Pound Shop lilo and Deon is invited to get a particularly early chug on the Radox after only 13 minutes. The Bognor miscreant only sees yellow.
This looked like it could be a problem, but it really wasn’t. It has to be said, Bognor were awful, but partly because we made them look bad. We reshaped the midfield, chased everything and only one side ever looked like scoring the third.
The Bastard arguably should have netted the third when he was put clean through, but he uncharacteristically dallied on the ball and was closed down. He had another close shave moments later when he nicked a ball off a centre-back and lobbed the keeper, but fired wide. Razz also had a moment when his 35-yard free-kick skimmed over the bar. Bognor, meanwhile, looked about as dangerous as a Kinder Egg.
But then the ref took the controversial decision to swap ends at half-time, and suddenly Lewes found themselves kicking into the strong wind that was ruining blue rinses all over town. And within three minutes Bognor had pulled one back. Nathan Odokonyero beat Champion to a long ball over the top and then slotted it past Carey. “Here we go,” was uttered more than once in the away end.
But The Rooks didn’t fold. Unlike Deon Moore’s sparring partner, the Rooks took the blow on the chin, regrouped and carried on playing. And within ten minutes or so, we were 3-1 up. Enter The Bastard.
It looked like he’d blown the chance when his shot at Bognor’s young stopper was palmed away, but he’s a proper Bastard. He didn’t let young Rowley have his moment, he just toe-poked a shot past the hapless young keeper at the near post to reaffirm our two-goal lead.
Cue scenes in the away end as Joe removed his shirt, laid it on the ground before him and fell to his knees in worship.
All hail the God of Goals, who had just scored his 35th of the season, a modern-day record, if not an all-time one…
There’s always some little statto twat who ruins everything, isn’t there?
Talking of ruining things, the ref had to leave the field for a couple of minutes after Joe’s record-breakingish strike, as he somehow ended up wearing a pint of the local ale.
As the incident is the subject of a live FA investigation, I can’t comment further, although I can categorically rule out the involvement of Terry Boyle, as the Bognor bar doesn’t take Wetherspoon’s vouchers.
Perhaps wary he’s now only 23 goals short of breaking a new club record, The Bastard helped himself to another when a Bognor defender tried to catch a through-ball in the slips. The penalty was converted with stereotypical ease.
So, a Lewes side that was down to ten men for the vast majority of the match, and with a makeshift defence that included a midfielder at right-back, a winger at left-back and a left-back in the middle, brilliantly swats aside Bognor with a richly deserved 4-1 win.
And what’s this as we’re making our way out of the ground? A late penalty at Enfield that suddenly makes that crucial fifth place a lot more attainable than it was looking at full-time.
It couldn’t happen. Could it?
Lewes: Carey, Olukoga, Champion, Mundle-Smith, Coleman De-Graft, Young, Pritchard, Hyde, Moore, Gondoh, Taylor
Subs: Murrell-Williamson, Huckle, Tamplin, Hall, Salmon
Supporters Club man of the match: The Great Gondoh. A couple of poacher’s strikes and his best performance in a Rooks shirt yet. Smashing.
Boyesy’s brilliant photos: