A massive day in the Isthmian Premier then, as second took on third, fifth took on sixth, and we took on Carshalton – a team we seem to beat roughly once a decade. If Sky Sports’ tentacles stretched as far down as the Isthmian Premier, it would be ‘Super Saturday’ and Roy Keane would have had a shave for the occasion.
The fans clearly sensed it was a big day, too. The pre-match pub was buzzing with Rooks, and well over a hundred (by my iffy count) stretched out on the single greatest expanse of concrete outside of 1980s Berlin.
Even the Youth Wing made the trip, and how pleasing it is to see how they’ve gelled as a squad over the course of the season. Just look at this photo here, with Youth Wing Member A, slamming the barriers in celebration, whilst not spilling a drop of his pint, while his teammate has his back, watching closely to make sure there’s no Pilsner on the pitch. It’s heart-warming stuff. It’s Band of Brothers.
The teamwork on the pitch was pretty damned good too. The Rooks have clocked up some superb away performances this season. The 6-2 at Margate and the 4-1 at Enfield are the obvious standouts, but this performance would be a comfortable third.
It didn’t get off to the best of starts. Taylor Maloney had dinked the post from long-range in the opening minutes as the Rooks made an encouraging start, but the game was only 12 minutes old when Carshalton took the lead. The ball fell to Daniel Bassett about 25 yards from goal and he leathered it past Lou Carey. No complaints about the defending, it was just a sweet strike.
It didn’t knock Lewes out of their stride. Razz and Taylor were combining as well as they have all season; Michael Klass was running the midfield; Deshane Dalling was running his testicles off down the right-hand side. It felt like a matter of a time before we got the equaliser, even though thoughts of it being one of those days were heightened slightly when Razz smacked the post again on the half hour.
Nevermind, because we were about to witness 90 seconds of unbridled joy. And that was largely down to the most improved player of this season: Michael Klass.
Klassy had a wobble at Worthing and a daft red card at Bishop’s Stortford, but he’s been getting better and better ever since. Yesterday, was the pinnacle. He was different gravy.
The first goal was both odd and sublime. The action seemed to lapse into slow motion, as Klass found himself on the edge of the box surrounded by a gaggle of Carshalton defenders. He danced his way around them before trickling a low shot into the bottom corner that was going so slowly I was worried the ref was going to blow for half-time before it got there. It was an astounding piece of skill. The concrete jungle erupted.
A minute or so later, we were in the lead. Klass nicked the ball in midfield and set Razz away down the left with a lovely pass, the kind of ball you’d take home to meet your parents. Razz raced onto it, cut inside and slammed a low shot at the keeper, who could only bundle it into the roof of the net
The delirium was such that a few of the middle-aged Rooks contingent lost all control of their facial muscles.
We’re happy to report they’re recovering well in hospital.
The second half was much like the first. The Rooks well in control and continuing to pepper the Carshalton woodwork. Taylor hit the post after Razz fed him a sweet ball on the left, and more good Razz work on the byline saw a fierce cross into the middle that Dalling could only head just wide.
There were a few nervous moments towards the end of the game as Carshalton piled players forward, but a superb block by Matt Weaire, a decent save from Carey and a bit of sloppy finishing saw us bag a deserved three points.
It was all too much for gaffer Tony, who sat on his cool box, a tear running down his cheek, remembering when all this was just green PVC and chewed up car tyres:
A plastic pitch on The Pan? Better shake that raffle tin a bit harder next week, Barbara…
Lewes: Carey, Spencer, Salmon, Weaire, Carlse, Klass, Maloney, Pettit, Coleman De-Graft, Dalling, Taylor
Subs: Hall, Parker, Yao, Gillies
Boyesy’s brilliant photos: