Charlton's top spot hopes blown away by Lewes at the Dripping Pan

First-half goals from Paula Howells and Amelia Hazard secured Lewes a 2-0 FA Women's Championship victory over Charlton Athletic at the Dripping Pan, writes Mitul Samji..

Sunday, 17th October 2021, 6:26 pm
Lewes Women / Picture: James Boyes

The visitors missed the chance to secure top spot in the FA Women’s Championship and endured their second league defeat of the campaign.

Charlton enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages, but Emma Follis’ effort at the edge of the box was superbly saved by Lewes goalkeeper Tatiana Saunders.

The home side struggled to find some rhythm and failed to register an effort on target in the opening 20 minutes.

Four minutes later, the home side capitalised on a poor defensive pass and an opportunity fell to Ini-Abasi Umotong, whose close-range effort forced Addicks keeper Eartha Cumings into a smart save to keep her side in the game.

Craig Gills’ side piled more pressure towards the end of the first half and took the lead in the 38th minute when Vyan Sampson’s short backpass gifted the ball to Howells who sent a sublime curling effort into the top corner.

The Rooks doubled their lead in quick succession after another swift counterattack saw Freda Ayisi loop a dangerous cross to Hazard in the penalty area, who tapped her effort past Cumings.

Karen Hills’ side made the brighter start in the second half, with Megan Wynne gliding into the box but the Lewes backline comfortably clearing the danger.

The best chance for the visitors came just before the hour mark, as Emma Follis squared the ball to Kiera Skeels who fired an effort into the sidenetting.

Lewes’ Heidi Logan tried her luck from distance as her thumping effort flew over the bar before Kallie Balfour whipped a fine cross to Umotong, her final touch going over the crossbar as Lewes secured their third victory of the campaign.

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Lewes interim manager Craig Gill said: “To get a result against a good side like Charlton is extremely pleasing and I thought the players were outstanding in their application.

“The first goal was extremely important. When you put teams under pressure as we did today, it’s important that we do score as we were on top and Paula Howells’ strike was absolutely superb. She can be rightly proud of that goal.

“While the second goal was a reward of our efforts. We had been working on finishing in training so it was nice to see the type of goals applied on the pitch. The players executed the game plan superbly.

“We did say at half-time that we didn’t want to take the foot off the pedal and had to maintain that pressure. At times, I would have liked for us to enjoy the football and use the ball a bit better in possession. The work rate was phenomenal. We didn’t allow Charlton time and space in possession that reduces the number of chances they produced.

"It’s important to take this positivity, energy and discipline into the next game.”

Charlton manager Karen Hills said: “Disappointed to lose the game, but credit to Lewes who took their chances. Otherwise, it was probably quite an even game.

“We changed a couple of personnel for the game today, knowing the possibility that we need to be better in the final third when it comes to creating chances. However, we created chances in the opening four minutes and if Emma Follis early effort went in, the game could have looked quite different. But Lewes stood strong and defended really well as we couldn’t find a way to unlock their defence.

“I did see a way back at half-time. We regrouped and spoke to the players that we had to find the belief within ourselves.

"We needed to find the characters within the team and it was going to show me what capabilities we had if the game was not going our way.

"I thought we changed shape and changed a couple of personnel. We had a few more chances in the second half, but it was just wasn’t our day today.

"Football is about key moments and they were two key moments in the game that didn’t go quite our way.”

Lewes (5-3-2): 1 Tatiana Saunders; 18 Rebecca McKenna, 14 Paula Howells, 3 Rhian Cleverly, 6 Ellie Hack, 20 Sophie O’Rourke; 10 Freda Ayisi, 4 Amelia Hazard, 23 Isobel Dalton; 11 Heidi Logan, 15 Ini-Abasi Umotong

Substitutes: 7 Lucy Ashworth-Clifford for Howells 77, 19 Kallie Balfour for Logan 77, 9 Georgia Timms for Ayisi 86

Substitutes not used: 9 Charley Boswell, 32 Shanell Salgado, 5 Nicola Cousins, 27 Zoe Cross, 8 Ellie Noble, 34 Lara Miller

Goals: Howells 38, Hazard 40

Bookings: Hack 53

Referee: Steven Hughes

Attendance: 301