31st December 2011 – Metropolitan Police V Lewes
Lewes fans set out hoping that the Rooks could give them something extra to celebrate other than just the new year as they set out to Met Police FC, in London somewhere.
If you are wondering 'who on earth are Met Police FC?' then you would fit in nicely at Lewes as talk of the unofficial fans forum was all about this matter. It turns out that in the olden days, only police officers were allowed to play for them but since rising through the leagues, they decided to allow other players to play as well, although we were quickly assured that there are still some police officers in their ranks, until last week they lost their captain who gained himself a 'big' move to full time outfit Farnborough currently residing in the Conference South, one league above.
Lewes had already beaten Met Police twice already this season, early on at home in a scrappy yet effective 1-0 win and the second victory coming in the ryman league cup where Lewes outplayed the Rozzers to win 2-1 to go through to the quarter final. So despite the fact that The Police fill the final play off place, one position below our beloved Rooks Lewes fans could be quietly confident in getting another win, although Lewes fans take nothing for granted.
Lewes manager Steve King made the decision to start top scorer Michael Malcolm after he came on as a substitute to score the winner against Hastings on boxing day the week before, he replaced Ian Draycott in the starting eleven, the only other change being Malvin Kamara received his first league start for a few months in for the suspended Nic Ciardini after the industrious full back had picked up 5 yellow cards in previous games.
Met Police started the game all guns blazing and after ten minutes Police fans were wondering if this was just going to be one of those days as twice Staforde Palmer missed glorious opporunities, the first after a low ball cam across the Lewes box from a lively Craig Brown, seemingly a crowd favourite at Imber Court, Palmer met the ball but sent it wide from close range. His second chance came when Lewis Hamilton tried to switch play but his ball was cut out in the centre of the park allowing Palmer to gain an advantage over Robinson and take a pop at goal, however he could not get enough curl on the shot from the edge of the area to find the top corner.
Lewes continued to come under pressure as they persisted on pumping the ball forward to Malcolm who could have been beaten in the air by the impressive Police centre backs all day long. With play continuing like this, The Police were able to keep coming back at Lewes and it looked like they had finally taken advantage of their dominance when another ball into the box from Brown, beating Hamilton on the right hand side, the ball again founder Palmer but instead this time instead of taking the shot himself he cleverly flicked the ball on for Eddie Smith, however his volley was again sent wide of the mark.
The same Smith just minutes later took a blistering shot from 25 yards which cannoned of the post and thankfully for Banks, who was rooted to the spot, took the ball away from goal and out for a goal kick. This seemed to be the wake up call Lewes desperately needed and as they started to pass the ball around a bit more, they found Nanetti and Jarrett on the wings who were able to run at the Police full backs who seemed incapable of stopping the wide men. Nanetti carved Lewes's first shot on target as he weaved his way between two Police players before having a pop at goal, the type that Lewes fans are used to seeing go blazing over the fence behind the goal, however Nanetti managed to keep this one under control, although the keeper easily pounced onto the ball at the bottom right corner.
The referee was reasonably whistle happy and a Matt Somner foul which he received a yellow card for, meaning he will be suspended some time when the league decides necessary. The free kick nearly cost Lewes dearly as it was taken out quickly to an unmarked Brown who wasted no time in putting a delightful ball across the ground, begging to be given a touch into the net, however the touch eventually came from centre back Duran Reynfolds who to everyone wearing blues despair slid in and put the ball wide again.
After half time Lewes did seem to be more assured in their play however it was still Met Police who nearly took the lead when a shot was taken from outside the area bounced around inside the box only for Smith to send a ball straight towards Banks in the Lewes goal who still did well to pounce down on it to stop it from crossing the line for a Police goal.
As the game wore on Lewes did something which has been unknown this season, they got better as the game went on, as Lewes fans know, we are used to seeing the players do noticeably worse in the second half. However this time was different and maybe is a good sign as the Rooks progress into 2012. The next chance fell to Lewes as Jarrett was fouled on the touchline on the left after he was brought down. Nanetti swung in the free kick which Steve Robinson out jumped him marker to reach but unfortunately sent the ball flying over the bar.
Lewes continued to attack in their best spell of the game, in one of his best games yet Jarrett sent a perfect through ball on to Michael Malcolm who was heading away from goal but noticed the assured Police keeper of his line and tried to chip the ball into the net, however he failed to get enough height on the ball and to the disappointment of Lewes fans it went straight to the keepers hands. Another chance soon after fell Lewes's way again as the ball was sent in to the box again by Jarrett and after Malcolm controlled it down it was played around between him and Harry Harding and the chance eventually coming to Nanetti's feet, however he was unable to get proper contact with the ball and it was easily saved by the keeper.
Moments later Lewes had a penalty shout clearly turned down by the referee after Reynolds stood his ground in the penalty area and didn't allow Jarrett to pass, it could be argued that the defender didn't get any of the ball but a penalty would have been a controversial decision. Lewes midfielder Harry Harding was nearly on target with a lob of his own from 30 yards as he caught the keeper off his line but his chip went over the bar.
Lewes only had two substitutes on the bench in Draycott and Paul Booth, however neither were used which showed towards the end and Met Police brought on two of their own which swung the game back in their favour as Lewes started to look jaded. One of those substitutes made a instant impact as he took a shot from just outside the area which Banks could only parry creating a goalmouth scramble which Lewes eventually managed to clear.
Met Police had their best chance of the game with not long to go as Brown continued to pester Hamilton who was doing well to contain him as much as he did, but this time Brown got the better of him and sent a peach of a ball straight on to the awaiting Smith who was completely unmarked just 5 yards out but managed to send his header over the Lewes goal.
Not to be outdone, Jarrett sent in his own pinpoint cross straight to Michael Malcolm who, it looked like had glanced his header to perfection, heading straight into the bottom corner of Butlers goal only for him to make a stunning reflex save and at full stretch keep the ball out and ensure the points were shared.
Anyway onto the New Year!
Lewes MOTM: Steve Robinson
Banks, Kamara, Hamilton, Somner, Robinson, Hustwick, Stavrinou, Harding, Malcolm, Jarrett, Nanetti.
Unused Subs: Booth, Draycott.
Booked: Kamara, Somner.
Unused Subs: Booth, Draycott.
Booked: Kamara, Somner.