“This could be the best day of my life,” shouted one of the Youth Wing – the gaggle of young, loud and well oiled supporters who have been a welcome presence on the terraces in recent times. Bless him. He’s young. He knows not of the unbridled joy of beating your ten-year-old 453-34 at Scrabble (just me?). But Lewes away days definitely don’t come much better than this.
It didn’t get off to a great start. With only four minutes on the clock, barely enough time for Cynical Dave to roll his first rollie, we were 1-0 down. A long ball out left bypassed our entire defence, it was chopped across the box and Daniel Thompson was there to crack it past Carey. So far, so Hornchurch.
The deficit didn’t last long, though. Right-back Kenny Yao abandoned all sense of position and dribbled his way into the left-hand side of the area before having his feet swiped away. Joe Taylor – who was about as popular with the locals as a face mask at the Tory conference – slotted the resulting penalty and parity was restored. Briefly.
The new-look Rooks have an awful habit of giving away cheap free-kicks in dangerous areas, and it was one such incident which led to Sam Blackman putting Margate ahead in the 16th minute. The free-kick was whistled into the box and met by a Margate head, the ball skimming onto the post, falling to Sam Blackman for a tap-in.
At this point, knowing looks were being exchanged on the terraces. Teeth were being sucked. Online train timetables were being consulted. “If we walk quickly, we can make the 4:50 and be in the pub at 7.” Pessimism had an R rate of 4.5.
Yet, it didn’t infect the team. Razz De-Graft and Ollie Tanner were giving their full-backs a terrible time, running at them at every opportunity and creating chances. Lewes should definitely have gone in for their half-time talk with Tony with the scores level, only a brilliant save keeping out Razz’s deflected shot just before the break.
“If we could defend, we’d be dangerous,” some idiot muttered at half-time. That idiot was me.
The second half was nothing short of sensational. First, we have to talk about Taylor Maloney, the Non-League David Platt (Youth Wing, ask your dad). He has a ridiculous knack of arriving in the box at just the right time to slot chances. He’s a 5ft 4in opportunist.
He nabbed the equaliser nine minutes into the second half, getting on the end of a brilliant Razz cross to draw us level. Then he put us ahead four minutes later. Tom Carlse jinked his way down the left-hand flank, dinked a lovely ball into Maloney’s path, who cut inside and prodded it home. Delerium.
At this point, Ollie Tanner says “hold my beer”. In the words of the Youth Wing, he’d absolutely rinsed his full-back, the young George Lamb, all afternoon. The closest Lamb had got to him all afternoon was when he hacked him down in the 42nd minute, taking a well-deserved booking. That gave Ollie even greater license to run at the poor little Lamb and, boy, did he take it. On the hour he danced past three defenders – including the hapless Lamb – before unleashing a Thunderbastard of a shot from a tight angle to make it 4-2.
Lamb was withdrawn five minutes later (insert your own ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ joke here) and immediately sent for counselling. I guarantee he woke up in a fever dream at 3am, seeing nothing but this…
Lamb’s withdrawal simply gave Tanner another full-back to torment and he did so again in the 72nd minute. It was a similar, if slightly less spectacular effort. This time he only beat two men before shooting low to make it 5-2.
The veterans in the away end were in shock, ordering sweet teas and taxis. The Youth Wing, eight pints of craft ale each to the good, were still on top form.
Hilarious, but harsh on young Pat Ohman, who wasn’t really to fault for any of the goals and had made a few decent saves to just about keep the scores respectable.
Respect did go out of the window in the end, however, as Maloney completed his hat-trick in the 83rd minute, getting on the end of a another brilliant move and clipping his shot past Ohman for number six.
“Are we winning?” croaked one of the Youth Wing, who’d perhaps had a craft ale too many. Yes, mate. And some.
I’ve been coming to Lewes for well over a decade and have never seen a better half of football. It was ‘tell your grandkids’ stuff, and if this team can plug the holes at the back, there is nobody in this league who can lay a glove on them.
The management loved it, the players loved it, us old lags on the terrace loved it, and the Youth Wing? Well, they loved it more than all of us put together.
I’m not sure the Margate steward (far left) enjoyed it quite as much, mind. Look at his face. Just look at his face.