Rooks hold all the aces as City slump

Defeat at the Dripping Pan sees City drop into the bottom three

Blue Square Bet South

Lewes 3 (Paul Olima 41, 55, Ben Godfrey 45+1)

St Albans City 1 (Adam Everitt 75)

THE Blue Square Bet South table makes grim reading for St Albans City fans after a 3-1 defeat to Lewes saw the Saints exchange places with their hosts in the bottom three.

The Saints had actually started the contest well but couldn’t force a save from Lewes ‘keeper Chris Winterton and they were made to pay by the hosts whose dominant spell for half an hour either side of half time yielded three goals.

Former Hitchin Town striker Paul Olima did the damage netting twice, either side of a goal from debutant and Man of the Match Ben Godfrey.

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Adam Everitt gave City a lifeline when he headed home substitute Dave Hutton’s corner but any hope was extinguished just three minutes later when the City left-back was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Everitt had been one of two changes made by Saints boss Steve Castle, coming in to replace Pete Smith who had failed to shake off the pelvis injury he picked up against Farnborough. Also returning to the Saints’ side was Leyton Orient youngster Chris Benjamin who took the place of former Lewes striker Jean-Michel Sigere who had also sustained a knock on Tuesday night.

The players were greeted onto the Dripping Pan pitch by the Cliffe Bonfire society drummers who provided a soundtrack to the contest throughout the afternoon.

A break down the left wing by Pelayo Gomez probably should have offered City an early opportunity but the Spaniard’s cross was cut out by the impressive Tom Hutchinson before it could reach Benjamin in the middle.

Castle’s side played the ball around nicely in midfield and from one such spell of sustained possession worked another opening for Gomez. The Brentford work experience youngster worked the right hand channel well and created some space to get his cross in but his pass was blocked by a home defender, possibly with a hand.

Hector Mackie was allowed to run almost the length of the pitch unchallenged as City broke from a Lewes attack but the midfielder fired high and wide from 25 yards.

Benjamin cut inside from the left and got a shot away but it was weak and easily collected by Winterton.

With 30 minutes gone Lewes began to grow into the contest, helped by speedy top scorer Tom Murphy becoming a leading influence in the game.

The Lewes winger was first thwarted by Paul Bastock at the near post after leaving Ben Martin in his wake and then displayed his blistering pace once more to cross for Olima but he headed wide of the target.

The former Gillingham man then picked out Godfrey on the edge of the area but the debutant’s effort was easy for Bastock to keep out.

It was almost a case of one man against the City defence as Murphy cut inside Ross Dedman and let fly with a curling effort that Bastock did extremely well to tip over the bar.

George Porter then created an opening to shoot but saw his effort deflected wide and from the corner Hutchinson looked to have opened the scoring only for Harry Beautyman to head the ball off the goal line.

The home side only had to wait 60 seconds longer for the opening goal though as Godfrey raced clear of Ben Martin down the left and beat Bastock with his low centre to leave Olima with the simplest of tap ins from a matter of yards.

City were in desperate need of the interval to get back into the dressing room to regroup but the Rooks landed a fatal blow, grabbing goal number two in first half stoppage time.

The ball was played up to Godfrey who found himself in acres of space and he advanced into the City box before confidently stroking the ball past Bastock.

City’s attempts to get back into the match were disrupted by an injury to Gomez and he was replaced by Mark Peters at half time.

change had little effect on the one-way traffic seen at the end of the first half as Lewes continued to come at their guests.

A short corner to Murphy gave the winger the time and space to dink the ball goalwards but Beautyman was once again on hand to head clear off the line.

Lewis Ide then picked out Hutchinson from a free kick but the defender headed wide of the post and Chris Breach was guilty of an even worse miss as he headed Godfrey’s cross back across the face of goal and wide with the gaping net at his mercy.

Olima effectively sealed all three points for the home side with just 10 minutes of the second half gone, waltzing through the City defence before rolling the ball into the empty net.

The Lewes man picked the ball up on the right hand side of the City box before jinking his way past Ben Martin and Ryan Frater and then rounding Bastock before applying the simplest of finishes.

In truth it was no more than the home side deserved for their domination.

City began to come back into the contest as Lewes took their foot off the pedal but they didn’t look like testing Winterton.

Mackie shot wide of the target and Benjamin had an effort turned behind for a corner. From Hutton’s delivery, Everitt rose unchallenged at the near post to divert the ball with his head inside the far post but the 27-year-old’s afternoon was over just three minutes later as he was shown a second yellow card after a challenge on Tim Rivers.

Former Ipswich Town midfielder Jermaine Wright beat Bastock with an effort from 12 yards only to see Ben Martin hack the ball of the line but it failed to take away from a fine win for the home side.

Lewes: Winterton; Barness, Breach, Hutchinson, Pearson; Murphy, Wright, Ide (Wormull 60), Porter (Jones 88); Godfrey, Olima (Rivers 78).

Subs not used: Green, Gradwell.

St Albans City: Bastock; Dedman (Hutton 55), Frater, B Martin, Everitt; Beautyman, Deeney (A Martin 64), Fisher, Mackie; Gomez (Peters 46), Benjamin.

Subs not used: Magwood, Petrucci.

Referee: Philip Knight (Kent).

Att: 727