Lowestoft Town 3, Lewes 1
Ten-man Lowestoft fought back from a goal down to open their Rymans League Premier Division season in style at Crown Meadow on Saturday.
The Trawlerboys went a goal down after just six minutes when skipper Greg Crane lobbed the ball past his own keeper.
And while Crane made amends just before the half-hour mark when he was involved in Andrew Cave-Brown's equaliser, the Lowestoft skipper went back to sinner seven minutes later when he was shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language.
But Lowestoft refused to buckle and within seconds of the restart they were ahead, through Lubo Guentchev, who then set up debutant Chris Henderson for a third in time added on.
Lowestoft and Lewes, relegated from the Conference South last season, are ranked joint title favourites this time around, so gifting the visitors an opener was hardly the best start. The goal came from a Lowestoft free-kick, which was cleared long. Crane, with Michael Malcolm chasing, tried to slot it back to Andy Reynolds from some 30 yards out, but gave it too much and the keeper could do nothing as it sailed over his head.
Lowestoft had the better of the earlier exchanges, Matt Nolan heading over from Cave-Brown's cross deep on the right and winger Joe Francis forcing centre-half Steve Robinson to stretch to clear a low cross from the left.
Crane saw a spectacular volleyed attempt from Guentchev's corner go a couple of yards wide, but on 27 minutes he put the ball into the area, Scott Mitchell nodded it down and full-back Cave-Brown fired home an unstoppable shot.
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Crane got his marching orders on 34 minutes, having complained to referee John Magill about a late challenge by Wade Small which went unpunished.
Lowestoft came out for the second half with Stuart Ainsley on for Jamie Forshaw, and within 10 seconds they were in front. Francis found himself in space on the left and sent in a low cross which keeper Steve Williams couldn't hold, and there was Guentchev to slam it home from three yards.
Small headed wide of an impeded Reynolds, but at the other end substitute Adrian Forbes, ploughing alone furrow up front, had a glorious chance but saw the keeper touch it over with his fingertips. The all-action Forbes then headed over Guentchev's corner as Lowestoft looked the more likely to score.
Malcolm did give home fans a scare with 10 minutes remaining when he picked up Cave-Brown's clearance and put a left-footer just a little high and wide of Reynolds' left post and bar, but Lewes were guilty of failing to take advantage of the extra man.
And in time added on - all five minutes of it - they paid the penalty. Guentchev tried to set up Forbes on the break, Lewes failed to clear and Guentchev took possession a second time, slid the ball past the keeper and, just as it looked as if the effort was going to trickle inches wide, up popped Henderson to knock it into an unguarded net.
• Lowestoft Town: Reynolds, Cave-Brown, Gaughran, Crane, Smith, Guentchev, Mitchell, Fisk, Francis (Henderson, 79), Nolan (Forbes, 57), Forshaw (Ainsley, 46). Subs: Frew, Okay.
Goals: Cave-Brown 27, Guentchev 46, Henderson 90+.
Red card: Crane 34 dissent.
Booking: Forbes, 72, dissent; Fisk, 74, foul on Sterling.
• Lewes: Williams, Hustwick (Kamara, 56), Ciardini, Somner, Robinson, Sterling, Adelakun (Cade, 68), Lee, Small, Malcolm, Draycott (Booth, 62). Subs: Pringle, Robinson.
Goal: Crane og 6.
Booking: Steve Robinson, 37, foul on Fisk.
• Referee: John Magill.
• Att: 762.
• Time added on: 2 mins/5 mins.