We crowned our return to the Bostik Premier with three points following a hard-fought 1-0 win against Lewes, writes James Barrett-Sterling.
There were full debuts for James Richmond and Jerson dos Santos, while fellow new boys Mike Dixon and Jacob Mendy were named among the substitutes. Ex-Robin Nassim Dukali was in the line-up for our hosts.
Kick-off The first 10 minutes were pretty uneventful as both teams prodded and probed forward without much success - Richmond doing well to clear a cross into our box, while we failed to make a free kick in a dangerous position count.
Our first glimpse of Lewes' goal came on 19 minutes as Ola Sogbanmu contested a long throw into their area. The ball dropped for Tommy Bradford but he couldn't swivel quick enough to get a shot away.
Richmond was fortunate on 22 minutes as he lost possession to Jonte Smith near our goal and the forward played in Omar Lawson, but the midfielder smashed a 25 yarder way off target.
Ricky Korboa then finally gave home keeper Lewis Carey something to do, but our man's effort lacked power and he scooped the shot up easily.
The deadlock was almost broken on 31 minutes as Lewes broke from deep inside their half. They neatly moved the ball until it went wide to Ronnie Conlon, but his cross was hacked away by Bradford - James Hammond came onto the loose ball 30 yards out but his first-time piledriver whistled wide of Billy Bishop's right-hand post.
We then lost Bobby Price to an injury he first sustained in the second minute, Mendy coming on, but the defensive reshuffle didn't affect us as we went on the front foot.
Raheem Sterling-Parker did well to take advantage of some poor defending on 35 minutes and he picked out the run of dos Santos whom had got away from his marker. Rather than shoot on goal from 15 yards however, our man tried to cut onto his left foot and a recovering defender snuffed out the danger.
We then won a corner which was initially defended, but Bradford then picked out dos Santos alone on the far side of the box. He had time to control the ball but the debutant elected for the spectacular and didn't really connect with an overhead kick.
HALF-TIME: 0 - 0
We started the second-half on the front foot and Sogbanmu almost scored on 48 minutes - he placed a firm effort from 15 yards on target but Frankie Chappel stood firm and deflected it away with his head.
Then a move involving Bradford, Sogbanmu, Sterling-Parker and Korboa ended with Mendy blasting over from the edge of the area.
The debutant defender was a hero at the other end on 55 minutes however - a Lewes head met a corner with Bishop stranded, but Mendy managed to throw himself at the ball and head it away from the empty net.
And then the breakthrough - Paris Hamilton-Downes drilled a flat angled ball in from an advanced position which Sogbanmu took down neatly. He had time to set himself before side-footing across Carey from about six yards.
Both sides made substitutions but we kept Lewes on the back foot and should've really doubled our lead on 67 minutes.
Bradford and Mendy combined to get the ball out to Sterling-Parker and his deep cross picked out Sogbanmu who, although under some pressure, put a header from seven yards over the bar.
Then things went against us - Sterling-Parker purposefully slid in and cleanly won the ball against Steve Brinkhurst in front of the dugouts. The defender didn't react at all, but the Lewes bench jumped up claiming a bad tackle. The officials conferred before the referee issued a straight red card to our forward.
So now we had to work harder to deny Lewes a route back in but, in fact, we almost scored a second in spectacular fashion on 72 minutes.
Sub Mike Dixon was on his own in the Lewes half as he took a clearance down. He was 35 yards from goal but he looked up and curled a shot goalwards. It beat the back-pedalling Carey but sadly not the crossbar as the ball smashed back off it.
But Lewes were coming back into the game now and Bishop did well to smother two crosses, while Kalvin Morath-Gibbs got in front of a square ball inside our area and cleared it away from incoming opponents.
We were content to get the ball into the corners and stand firm under Lewes' further probing, but all our hard work was nearly undone on 89 minutes.
We only half cleared a cross from the right and Billy Medlock smashed a low shot that seemed destined to bulge the back of the net - but it flew narrowly wide of Bishop's far post.
Our hosts also won a corner deep into added time but, although even Carey came up to contest it, Morath-Gibbs rose highest to head the ball away and ensure the three points came back to Colston Avenue.
We host Worthing on Monday 13th August (7.45pm) before Kingstonian arrive on Saturday 18th August.
Carshalton Athletic: Bishop; Price (Mendy - 32), Morath-Gibbs, Richmond, Hamilton-Downes (c); Bradford, Aziaya, Sogbanmu; Korboa (Phillips - 80), Sterling-Parker, dos Santos (Dixon - 62) Unused subs: Dudley, Adeniyi
Goal: Sogbanmu (58)
Sent off: Sterling-Parker
Lewes: Carey, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Hammond, Chappel (c), Freeman, Dukali (Cotton - 65), Lawson, Smith, Bosma (Dome-Bemwin - 60), Conlon (Medlock - 74) Unused subs: Blewden, Rees
Joint 'Man of the Match' award: Jacob Mendy/Ola Sogbanmu Attendance: 613