It’s not the hope that kills you, it’s the draws.
Our second successive draw at home, our seventh of the season – if we look back and wonder why we didn’t make the play-offs, the answer will lie in that D column.
Much is made of our unbeaten home record this season, but it’s a vanity statistic. Going undefeated doesn’t win you leagues, winning games does. We’ve lost fewer games than Aveley, but they’re joint top, 13 points ahead of us.
Our home form isn’t great, despite that unbeaten tag. In the Home Performance table across the entire season we’re 9th:
Despite losing seven on the road, our position in the Away Performance table isn’t much worse than at home:
This game was almost a photocopy of the Horsham match. We were 1-0 up at half-time, despite surviving a couple of hairy scrapes.
Anthony Jeffrey was handed the freedom of Lewes to run straight through our midfield in the opening minutes, but Lew Carey managed to tip his shot on to the post. And a hospital pass from Alfie Young to Ayo Olukoga set Bradley Stevenson clean through, with enough time to write his memoirs, but he picked his spot wide of the far post.
That’s not to say we didn’t have chances too. A Ryan Gondoh shot from the edge of the box was awkwardly pushed on to the post by the Billericay keeper, and then Hyde hit the post too, his shot from the edge of the box deflecting off a defender on to the upright.
When you want finishing done properly, you call on The Bastard. New-boy left-back Jaydn Mundle-Smith popped a lovely deep cross on to Taylor’s toes, and The Bastard took his time before slamming a low shot goalward that went in off the boot of the towering Michael Chambers.
Much like Horsham, we didn’t really get going in the second half. There was lots of possession, lots of shunting the ball from side to side, but about as much menace as a Songs of Praise Christmas special.
As the half wore on, you could feel the nervousness rippling through the well-attended Pan and on the pitch. Simple passes were going astray, and it was a careless Gondoh pass that gave Billericay the opportunity to equalise. The ball was quickly shoved down the right wing, crossed into the middle, and Isiaka got there ahead of Champion to tap in from close range on the hour.
Razz coming on for the final 15 minutes added a bit of pep, a much needed shot of Red Bull in our lukewarm Vodka (c’mon Pulitzer, this is good stuff). He immediately created a chance by shrugging off the close attentions of the left-back, before dancing past a defender or two, and letting fly, but a deflection took the sting out of the shot. It was sickening to read a couple of local yobs robbed Razz of his boots on the way out of the ground, though…
Other half chances and a succession of poorly taken corners followed, but we couldn’t find the second.
In fact, it was Billericay who came closest to grabbing a winner. Johnville Renee auditioned for the England cricket squad, taking a beautiful catch before it actually crossed the boundary rope and literally handing Billericay a free-kick in a danger area. They flung it into the box where both of their 6ft 6in giants were lurking and it was bundled in, but the lino brilliantly spotted an offside in the six-yard-box melee.
So we’re down in tenth, five points adrift of the play-off berths and with some distinctly tricky fixtures to come, not least Hornchurch away next Saturday. We probably need another 20-25 points from our remaining 11 games to have a sniff of the play-offs. Draws won’t cut it. Let the dogs of war loose and let’s just go for it in the remaining games of the season. It might not be enough, but it will be fun to watch.
Lewes: Carey, Renee, Champion, Young, Mundle-Smith, Olukoga, Pritchard, Hyde, Gondoh, Moore, Taylor
Subs: Tamplin, Hall, Salmon, Coleman De-Graft, Murrell-Williamson
Supporters club man of the match: The new left-back Jaydn Mundle-Smith. What’s prompted the excellent Jamie Mascoll to depart isn’t clear from the club comms, but he wasn’t badly missed after a strong debut from the Wealdstone loanee, including that lovely cross for Taylor’s goal.
Video highlights from Your Instant Replay:
Danny Last’s lovely video of a Lewes day out:
Boyesy’s brilliant photos: