“Give me a carpet and I’ll give you sexy football.” That was Tony Russell’s promise, or words to that effect. And if the opening night of Tony’s Carpet Warehouse is anything to go by, he’s a man of his word.
This was a proper Lewes performance. The video highlights (embedded down below) don’t do the Rooks’ dominance justice. We scored two, but should have bagged at least a couple more. All Carshalton left with were carpet burns.
Let’s start by talking about the pitch. The thick end of a million quid should get you a surface you could play snooker on, and this one looked flatter than a Wetherspoon’s bitter. It is a glorious pitch and full credit to everyone at the club who made it happen.
The pitch is so good, some bloke turned up thinking it was The Emirates:
The first goal – popped in after 19 minutes – definitely took advantage of the new surface.
New boy Ronan Silva stroked a delicious ball into the path of Razz Coleman De-Graft, who put a first-time cross on a plate for Deon Moore. Joe Taylor’s understudy couldn’t miss as he tapped the ball in from close range to give the Rooks a deserved lead.
Lewes dominated the rest of the half and came out swinging in the second. For a while it looked like being one of those nights where we don’t get the deserved second and end up conceding a scrawny equaliser, not least when we had four shots in quick succession, all just about repelled or whacked into the side netting.
But the second goal came, and it was the industrious Moore who nabbed it again. The ball broke down the right, seemingly prodded through by Silva and Moore set off like a greyhound after it. He beat the defender, rounded the keeper, and slotted it low into the empty net, but the linesman’s flag went up. Fortunately the eagle-eyed ref spotted the through ball actually came from a tackle on Silva, not Silva himself, and the goal stood. It was a night for carpets, not lino.
In fairness, the Rooks are going to face tougher nights than this. Carshalton are in transition from a tiki-taki manager to Steve McKimm, renowned for building a robust Tonbridge Angels side. Carshalton kept hitting it long, but to a striker – Walter Figueira – who might struggle to get on the rollercoasters at Thorpe Park. Gus Sow had an early effort that skimmed over the bar and the overlapping left-back caused us a few problems in the first half, but Bishop’s Stortford will surely provide a sterner physical test at the weekend. No fans of carpets are they.
That’s not to take anything away from our lads, who were immense. Salmon and Champion looked like they’d played together for years; Alfie Young minded the shop brilliantly in holding midfield; Jack Skinner looks an awesome find, working his testicles off in the middle for the second successive match; Rhys Murrel-Williamson had his best game in a Lewes shirt; Razz was unplayable; and Moore proved that we’re far from toothless when The Bastard needs a breather.
However, my (and Badgeman Brian’s) Man-of-the-Match was new right-back Marcel Elva-Fountaine, who defended superbly and looked a threat going forward too. He’s the best thing to come out of Aldershot, since… well, he’s the best thing to come out of Aldershot.
It’s one game, of course, so let’s not get carried away. But if we’re not 19 points clear by Christmas, sack the board.
Lewes: Carey, Elva-Fountaine, Carlse, Champion, Salmon, Young, Silva, Skinner, Coleman De-Graft, Murrell-Williamson, Moore
Benchwarmers: Yao, Olukoga, Nelson, Muggeridge, Dalling
Supporters Club Man of the Match: Marvellous Marcel, for reasons stated above
Video highlights (starring a co-commentator described as ‘the thinking woman’s Andy Townsend’ by The Economist):