So, to Cheshunt, a club with lofty ambitions. Not only have they got a Fanzone™ (a massive tent with two big TVs set to a brightness of -2, where a 6ft lion pulls pints), they also have a manager with the best facial hair in the entire Non-League pyramid.
Alas, Cheshunt have seemingly spunked the budget on marquees and beard balm, leaving nothing spare for video replays, so you’ll have to make do with another Lewes FC Supporters Club innovation to illustrate the key points from this match – The BarryPen™ – which we’ll come to shortly.
Cheshunt’s lofty ambitions extend to robbing us of a play-off spot, with the home side sitting only two points behind us but with a game in hand before kick-off. If not a must-win for Lewes, it was certainly a must-not-lose.
The Rooks started the game brightly and really should have been ahead inside the opening ten minutes. Razz had a good effort saved, before a corner saw the ball drop at the feet of Casey Pettit on the edge of the six-yard box, but the Luton loanee walloped it over the bar.
Pettit had another chance from a corner a few moments later, this time finding him at a tight angle and only able to hammer the post.
Then came the first of a series of baffling refereeing decisions that proved critical to the outcome. Kenny Yao was chasing a ball down the right-hand flank, running from behind a Cheshunt defender. The defender cuts across to clear the ball, swings and misses, and ends up clattering Kenny. If you’re struggling to picture this in your mind’s eye, here’s The BarryPen™ reconstruction:
After a little chat with his lino, the referee decides that getting in the way of the Cheshunt clogger’s boot was a bookable offence, making Kenny Yao the first player I’ve ever seen yellow carded for getting kicked.
A minute or two later, the ref was at it again. Tom Carlse was jockeying a player on the edge of the box, put his hands on the player’s back, and he tumbled harder than the Rouble exchange rate. Can’t quite picture it? Here’s the The BarryPen™:
The penalty was softer than a 40-tog duvet, but converted.
Cometh the hour, cometh The Bastard. Joe Taylor had been having a fairly quiet game up until now, spending most of it trying to swat away Cheshunt’s industrial no.6, who had so many handfuls of Joe’s shirt that it’s a minor miracle Joe wasn’t butt naked after 20 minutes.
Joe’s first goal came from some great build-up work involving Michael Klass and Razz, before the ball was slipped into the area and Joe shot low beyond the Cheshunt keeper.
Three minutes later, we were ahead. Deshane Dalling blasted past the Cheshunt defence and had a clear run on goal, before he was legged up by Amadou Kassarate. It was a blatant trip, no attempt made to get the ball, and yet Kassarate somehow escaped even a yellow card. Maybe if he’d kicked Dalling a bit harder, Deshane would have taken a booking.
Still, when Joe Taylor has the ball on the penalty spot, there’s only ever one outcome. Goal number 30 of the season, thank you very much. Supporters Club stalwart PJ’s video work spares you from another dose of The BarryPen™:
So, 2-1 up at half-time and we’re good value for that lead too. What could possibly go wrong now?
Yes, it’s our old friend the referee. First, he finally books Kassarate, after he once again brings Dalling down on the edge of the area. He should, by rights, be warming up the showers by now and Cheshunt know it, subbing him off two minutes later.
Then comes the game-changer. Now, fair play to the ref, the second foul by Kenny Yao was probably a yellow. Cheshunt had a break down our right, Kenny cuts across the lad and he tumbles to the ground. It’s a daft challenge to make when you’re on a booking, but he should never have been on that booking in the first place.
Thankfully, we have another very decent right-back on the bench, Juevan Spencer, who replaces the very hard-done-by Deshane Dalling – who’d been running his Wotsits off all afternoon – and now we’re in for 35 minutes of agony, trying to hold on to our lead.
We hold out for 15 of them. Cheshunt once again got away down our left, and despite getting plenty of numbers behind the ball, Mo Camara’s low shot nestled low into the corner of Carey’s net.
At this point there’s a lot of chuntering in the away end, much checking of the scores on FootballWebPages, pints being ordered from the 6ft lion to settle our nerves for the final push.
We defend heroically. Cheshunt have their moments, but Lou Carey doesn’t have another serious save to make, and we could have nicked it ourselves right at the death, had Spencer taken a better touch when played through by Maloney.
With better luck it could have been three, but it’s a very good point in the end. And with Folkestone throwing away a lead at home to The Casuals, the day ends as it begun. What a perfect waste of time.
Lewes: Carey, Yao, Salmon, Nelson, Carlse, Klass, Pritchard, Pettit, Dalling, Coleman De-Graft, Taylor
Subs: Spencer, Phipp, Maloney, Addy, Tanner
Main image: Danny Last
Boyesy’s brilliant photos: