Carshalton Athletic could not make it three away league wins on the spin as a solitary goal gave Lewes a 1-0 win and all three points on Saturday, writes James Barrett.
An early header from home striker Nathan Crabb gave Carshalton the worst possible start to the game and, despite plenty of possession, ultimately cost them dearly.
Injury and suspension meant lots of personnel shuffling by the management team. With both Luke Nolan and on-loan Dawayne Campbell both absent, Ricardo Joseph made his first league start in over a month and Craig Tanner moved over to right back.
On-loan Woking striker Ola Sogbanmu made his debut in a forward line that included Paul Vines, Laurent Hamici and Dean McDonald in midfield as Tony Finn, Anthony Joseph and Dean Lodge are all still on the treatment table and Kennedy Adjei was only fit enough to be on the bench.
“Despite those problems, the last two league matches have proved frustrating. Both against Kingstonian and Lewes we failed to test their goalkeepers for almost the whole game,” said manager Paul Dipre at full time.
“Missing players was no excuse at Lewes however as we had four forwards playing.
“If we don’t at least test goalkeepers, then we definitely won’t score and we won’t be winning games. If we don’t win games then we will not be safe from relegation.
“We need to start quicker, be smarter in the final third and get more men forward when attacking – especially in the box to finish crosses.”
The game was barely two minutes old when Lewes scored the winning goal. A flat diagonal ball into the Carshalton box by Matt Somner was only half cleared and, from a left wing cross, Crabbe got above David Ray to power a header back across goalkeeper Nick Hamann and into the far corner from eight yards.
The Robins soaked up a couple more Lewes attacks before starting to keep hold of the ball themselves.
Sogbanmu worked hard on his debut and, on the quarter hour, he tussled with two home defenders to retain possession on the edge of their area. The ball found itself out to Hamici on the left, but the forward slipped as he took it down and he was eventually crowded out.
Both sides didn’t shirk the psychical aspect of the game throughout and the rest of the first half was played at a high tempo.
Lewes almost went 2-0 up on the half hour when a Peter Gregory corner smacked the inside of the far post. The rebound eventually fell to Chris Breach but he put his shot wide.
Carshalton’s best chance of the game fell to McDonald in the second half who, after Vines battled for a Luke Pigden corner, blasted a low shot which goalkeeper Matt Ingram did well to keep out.
Despite finishing the match with a 4-2-4 formation, The Robins couldn’t prevent losing 1-0 for the third game on the trot.
Carshalton host second placed AFC Hornchurch at Colston Avenue on Tuesday 13th March, kick off at 7.45pm.
Carshalton Athletic: Hamann; Tanner (Adjei – 74), Kamara, Ray (c), R Joseph; Pigden, Crook, McDonald; Vines, Sogbanmu (Ayres – 63), Hamici.
Unused subs: Murphy, Dudzinski