Enfield Town 2 Lewes 4
Report by Andrew Warshaw
Another four goals shipped, a shellshocked manager yet still third in the league and more than handily placed so it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.
But it’s undoubtedly been a rollercoaster few weeks for the Town after Saturday’s latest debacle.
Lewes have become something of a bogey team as they followed up last season’s convincing double over us with another dominant display that belied their lowly league position.
That we managed to pull two goals back after going 0-4 down restored a certain amount of pride and respectability, especially after the rare sound of being booed off at halftime, albeit by a tiny minority of supporters.
But this shouldn’t hide the fact, as Andy Leese admitted afterwards, that there were worrying deficiencies that need rectifying to keep us on track in the upper echelons of the league.
After Tuesday’s improved display against Bognor following the Chesham humiliation in the Trophy, what unfolded was as alarming as it was unexpected, leading to an unusually flat atmosphere.
Lewes hadn’t won in the league since August but were slicker on the ball, more cohesive as a unit and in Razz Coleman De-Graft had a player who ran the show.
The Rooks were almost ahead within the first minute when Coleman De-Graft curled a cross-shot just over the bar from the edge of the box and it was no surprise when they took the lead six minutes later. Michael Klass played a one-two with Coleman De-Graft and Deon Moore lashed the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Lewes’ game plan was clearly to try and pull us out of shape, making it hard for us to keep the ball especially against their five in midfield and forcing our wide players to sit too deep.
It wasn’t until the 22nd minute that we had our first real chance as James Dayton almost made Jack Cass’ backheel count. Cass came even closer, only to find goalkeeper Lewis Carey in Lewes’ goal before Carey just held on to Joe Payne’s 30-yard piledriver.
Lewes continued to look the more threatening side, however, and Jamie Mascoll doubled the lead on 35 minutes when the wall failed to deal with his direct freekick.
Lewes’ third just before halftime was criminal from a home point of view. Marcel Elva-Fountaine was allowed to run unchallenged for 25 yards before firing into the far corner.
The management team decided to keep faith with the starting eleven and we almost reduced the deficit within two minutes as Lewes kept out a Cass header and Bilal Sayoud’s follow-up. But it soon went from bad to worse as Coleman De-Graft curled a beauty into the corner of the net at the other end.
Even though it seemed there was no way back, we at last started to get in Lewes’ faces as the management made a triple substitution.
Cass’ superb header on 57 minutes from Sayoud’s sublime cross brought it back to 1-4. Then James Richmond rose to head a rebounded corner into the net to half the deficit (pictured).
The damage may have already been done but it made for an exciting finish as our support play improved and we stopped giving the ball away.
Lyle Della-Verde hit a golden opportunity down the keeper’s throat and both Sam Youngs and Scott Thomas had further chances to pull off a miracle.
Ultimately, however, it was too big a gap to bridge.
A clearly shell-shocked manager didn’t mince his words afterwards. “Absolutely horrendous first half, men against boys,” said Andy. “We simple weren’t good enough from one to 11 and let them do what they wanted.”
“I can only apologise again to the fans. I could hear all the barracking which I understand. Most of it’s aimed at me which I also understand. It was totally unacceptable and there are obviously going to have to be some changes.”
“Strangely we probably created 10 to 12 chances. But they didn’t really have to get out of second gear. It was a very chastening afternoon and lots of worrying signs which we have to address. We need people who will run for the cause and die for the cause. Today again, some players didn’t want to do that. We’ve got some very good footballers but some of them just seem to be lacking the basics.”
McDonald, Spencer, Payne, Thomas, Wilson-Braithwaite, Richmond, Sayoud (Coker 74 mins), Youngs, Cass (Cunnington, 75 mins), Dayton (Wyllie 74 mins), Della-Verde