Lewes Ladies won their first ever three points in Women’s Premier League football following a pulsating home win over Reading yesterday.
Reading – who were last season playing in the the Women’s Premier League National Division – started strongly, winning and converting a penalty in the early stages, scored by Stacey Wiggins.
The Royals were putting the home side under pressure ... but Lewes had gone behind early in their first match away to Yeovil last week, and manager Jacquie Agnew would have been keen to see a response to this set-back. She got one in the shape of England Under 23 star Naomi Cole, who lashed in the equaliser on 19 minutes.
Some tough tackling from Lewes midfielder Charlotte Bennett drew a stern lecture from the referee, but, having seen the opposition profit from a physical approach last week, the Rookettes were ready to work for possession.
Lewes took the game to Reading and on the half hour mark they took the lead, Cole once again applying a clinical finish to a good passing move. Reading responded, forcing a series of corners, but found the Lewes back line in mean mood. Lewes physio Marie Reynolds was called on a couple of times to attend to the wounded as Lewes held on to their 2-1 advantage at the break.
The second half started much as the first ended, with no quarter asked or given as Reading tried to force an opening. Bennett received another warning, but thankfully no card was shown.
Reading put together a sweeping move, sending their striker through one on one with the Lewes keeper – but Michelle Beazley stood up big and strong to keep her out. Rooks then took off Joana De Souza, bringing on Kasia Viggour for her home league debut.
Reading weren’t having all the play. On the hour Lewes forced a decent save from the visiting keeper to win a corner. Viggour got into the action with a fierce strike, again well saved. Reading pressed again, and from an attacking throw played the ball into the six-yard box where striker Stacie Donnelly finished well past Beazley: 2-2 and the points now up for grabs. On 68 minutes ‘Aggers’ made a play to win all three points, bringing attacking midfielder Claire Trafford on for the excellent Holly Hinshelwood.
From the goal kick Lewes attacked and Bennett, having spent most of the match battling hard in midfield, lashed a superb effort from the edge of the box into the bottom corner after a nice lay off from Viggor. Cue delirium in the stands.
At 3-2 to the Rookettes with under 20 minutes to go, could they hang on? One thing was certain, Reading were not going to lay down and die. Lewes got their passing game going and created more chances. Bennett had a chance to extend the advantage but her header cleared the bar. That was to be her last contribution as she made way from Georgia Bridges, the youngster adding pace to the Lewes front line.
Into the last few minutes and Freddie Baker managed get her name in the book after a typically tough tackle. Reading looked to strike from the well-taken free kick but Beazley made a match-winning save, tipping the shot onto the bar. The resulting corner came to nothing.
As the match went into added time Reading forced another corner. Again Lewes stood firm. Finally the ref called time, and Lewes celebrated their first win of the campaign.
A crowd of just under 100 applauded the players from the field. Andrea Veiga was awarded Player of the Match by match sponsor J.N.N Pools. The Lewes management team of Agnew and Dave Cole will be delighted with this result and also the performance, while looking to build on a strong showing for the challenges ahead.
It’s a tough league but this is a tough team, full of belief winners and warriors all over the park. The team will grow stronger as the season unfolds, and, with support for the team on the rise, the Dripping Pan will be a tough place to visit.
Next home match is on Sunday, September 2, kick off 2pm, when Lewes will host Millwall Lionesses in the group stage of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup.
A club source said:” We hope plenty more Rooks fans will come down to support the ladies and find out how good these players are.”
TEAM: Michelle BEAZLEY, Katie BAKER, Charlotte BENNETT (Georgina BRIDGES 80), Naomi COLE, Joana DE SOUZA (Kasia Viggour 55), Vicky ELCOME, Holly HINCHELWOOD (Clare TRAFFORD 65), Katie McINTYRE, Kelly NEWTON, Leslie SMITH, Andrea VEIGA.
Report collated by Rookmeister.