Trepidation was the watch word as we drove into darkest Essex for this one. Trepidation on the pitch, after last week’s shellacking against Potters Bar; trepidation off it as we drove through the town centre to find the local police station boarded up and deserted.
The perceived threat to life and limb didn’t recede at the club bar, as Big Deaksy ordered a pre-match pint. I’ve never seen a pint of Guinness look so ill. “I’ll have a Bulmers instead,” Deasky quickly instructed the bar man, while a fella in a hazmat suit arrived to deal with the Guinness.
Deaksy wasn’t the only one suffering from a dodgy draught. “Does that lager taste a bit eggy to you, Dave?” asked the bloke at the next table, who having received confirmation that his pint of Foster’s was indeed the wrong side of iffy, took it back to the bar. The chastened-looking punter came back to his seat moments later, same beer in hand. “The bloke at the bar said there’s nothing wrong with it,” and he continued to sup away at his Foster’s omelette. They don’t like wasting pints in Pitsea.
Meanwhile, over at the ‘Bowers Burgers’ stall, a faulty deep-fat fryer was causing carnage.
“I’ll have a hot dog and chips, please, love.”
“There’s your hot dog. Your chips will be 15 minutes, that bloody thing’s on the blink again,” said the harassed woman serving.
“Can I have a bacon cheeseburger with onions and chips?” asked the next bloke.
“We haven’t got any cheese or onions and the chips will be 20 minutes.”
No wonder the Old Bill have shut up shop. The poor sods probably died of starvation.
On the pitch, Lewes had a new signing pulling on the black and white. Tom Phipp had arrived to bulk up our midfield, and not a moment too soon, as the Bowers & Pitsea boys didn’t look like the kind of fellas used to waiting 20 minutes for a burger and chips. They were units. They’d have devoured little Brad Pritchard like a Christmas canapé.
Phipp made himself straight at home, providing some much needed protection in front of our back four, and the Rooks started to impose themselves on the game, the pristine 3G pitch suiting our passing game perfectly.
We’d had a couple of reasonable long-range efforts before Joe Taylor made the breakthrough in the 17th minute. The Bastard turned into The Cunning Bastard when he had the ball close to the byline, not really going anywhere, when he pivoted his body between the ball and the onrushing defender and won a penalty out of nothing.
Joe Taylor doesn’t decide which way he’s going to take a penalty kick. He lets the keeper dive and make the decision for him, and so it was as Joe netted his 17th goal of the season.
A 1-0 lead has become a dangerous commodity in recent weeks, with points surrendered to both Corinthian Casuals and at windy Wingate, and there was much muttering of “need a second goal” in the away end as the game progressed.
Bowers came close to a first-half equaliser when a whipped ball from the right was headed just wide, and Michael Klass churned the stomach more than the under-cooked chips when he made a late lunge at a Bowers’ midfielder and was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow.
Moments later, Phipp was wiped out by a near-identical challenge, prompting Will Salmon to scream “that’s the worst tackle I’ve ever seen!”, with a massive grin all over his face.
The second half was edgy, not least after Phipp succumbed to injury from that first-half challenge, but Bowers never really put a serious threat on our goal. Still, it was something of a relief when we wrapped the game up in the 80th minute with a piece of real quality.
A neat passing move saw the ball threaded out wide to Maloney. He put in a low cross that Joe ‘Cunning Bastard’ Taylor stepped over and sub Brad Pritchard managed to shake off the hungry Bowers pack to slot the ball low into the net.
The game was properly put to bed four minutes later with a near identical passing move and finish, except this time it was Pritchard putting it on a plate for Maloney.
Bowers did raise the blood pressure slightly, when James White thwacked an unstoppable drive into the top corner in the 86th minute, but the Rooks left Pitsea with the points, even if we left the pints behind.
Lewes: Carey, Colombie, Nelson, Salmon, Carlse, Maloney, Phipp, Klass, Coleman De-Graft, Allen, Taylor
Subs: Weaire, Olukoga, Parker, Dalling, Pritchard
(Main photo by Danny Last)