United's first competitive game ended in defeat this afternoon at the hands of one of the bookies title favourites Lewes despite a Simon Martin equaliser giving the hosts food for thought.
United fell behind almost before the season had started as the Rooks took a seventh minute lead thanks to an exquisite touch and finish from Andy Drury, the best player on display by a country mile. Paul Booth did well to keep the ball in play right on the left sideline before his deep cross was brought down on the turn by Drury leaving Peter Collins standing, he then crafted the perfect shot that Kevin Davies had no chance with as it looped into the far corner.
Lewes continued to push the United defence back and almost had a second on fourteen minutes
when Dale Binns headed clear to Gary Holloway who in turn found Drury but this time his shot was just too high. Just four minutes later Davies had to be at his best as a left side corner was met powerfully by Ian Simpemba with the stopper palming away the point blank effort and Danny Allen-Page clearing the rebound off the line.
It was seven minutes before the break when United finally began to find some cohesion and forward movement against a well organised Lewes back four. A quick throw found skipper Nevin Saroya and he made space to cross to Steven Gregory only for Steve Robinson to throw himself in the path of the shot and deflect it wide of the target. As the break approached Liam Collins dug out a cross under pressure but James Edgerley's weak header failed to trouble Steve Williams in the Rooks goal and Ian Selley's 25 yard free-kick at the other end failed to give Davies any trouble.
United started the second period in much more lively fashion, Simon Martin saw a shot from the edge of the box blocked with the loose ball falling to Gregory who forced a relatively straightforward save out of Williams. Allen-Page then saw a volley palmed to safety by Williams and another poor Edgerley corner nearly slipped in at the near post but Williams gathered.
The Rooks almost doubled their advantage on the hour mark, a quick throw by Jay Conroy found Selley, his totally mis-hit shot from 20 yards found its way to Booth who was only denied by a reaction save from Davies.
Two minutes later United scored their first ever competitive goal, Will Hendry found Liam Collins on the right, the wide man taking the ball right to the byeline before cutting it back to Martin whose looping header nestled in the net off Williams fingertips.
Sadly the equilibrium only remained for five minutes when a piece of sloppy defending allowed the Rooks to score what turned out to be the winner. A long punt upfield by Binns was flicked on by substitute Junior Cade with Booth outpacing his marker to slot past the unguarded Davies.
A solitary chance fell to each side after this, Drury whipping in a teasing cross that Booth got his head to but Davies was equal to and at the other end Williams saved his side as Staforde Palmer's shot on the turn was blocked by the keepers legs before being hacked clear.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.