Lewes earn first win of the season with home win against Coventry United

Lewes earned their first FA Women’s Championship win of the season with a hard-fought victory at home to Coventry United.
Lewes' Sammy QuayleLewes' Sammy Quayle
Lewes' Sammy Quayle

Captain Rhian Cleverly struck the winner early on and the hosts were able to hold on for a valuable three points in chilly conditions at The Dripping Pan.

The Rooks move up to seventh in the table while Coventry’s first loss of the campaign sees them remain sixth.

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The hosts took a deserved lead early on after Ellie Leek’s corner was only half-cleared, with Cleverly able to poke home the loose ball.

Coventry responded immediately but Tatiana Saunders produced a fine save from a corner before Phoebe Warner fired the rebound over the bar.

Coventry thought they had equalised just before half-time when Saunders spilled Chelsea Weston’s looping cross, but the whistle had gone for a foul on the Lewes keeper.

Saunders was then alert to tip over Nikki Miles’ goal-bound header in injury time to maintain her side’s slender lead.

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The hosts started the second half well with Katie Rood seeing an effort well saved after cutting in from the left.

But Coventry gradually exerted control on the contest, with Beth Merrick going close with a free-kick and then curling a long-range effort straight at Saunders.

Centre back Anna Wilcox then almost levelled in the closing stages with an ambitious lob from the centre circle that had to be palmed over the bar.

And despite concerted late pressure from Coventry, Lewes were able to hold on for a morale-boosting win as they seek to build on last season’s eighth-placed finish.

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Lewes manager Simon Parker said: "This is a really big win for us and we can progress from here.

"Our possession stats are going to be lower than last year but at the moment we are okay to make that compromise to get the points.

"Defensively we are looking solid and know what our roles are, just in possession we need a bit more confidence because we can play and when the pressure is not on we do it a lot it is just doing it in game situations.

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"Rhian [Cleverly] is an unlikely goal scorer for us but she took the chance well and was composed and to get that so early on which did settle a few nerves and was good for us.

"A lot of teams in the division have strengthened, every team has improved and any team can beat any team so it will be a competitive league.

"I believe in this squad and we know there is not a lot in it between the teams this season. We can give anyone a good game."

Coventry United defender Anna Wilcox said: "We know the performance first half wasn’t good enough, we got around each other at half-time and said we knew it wasn’t good enough.

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"We have worked on this for two weeks, we knew exactly how they would play but we didn’t do the things we did in training, we take responsibility for the first half but second half we came out and tried a lot of different things but it didn’t come off today.

"Second half there was a massive reaction after we didn’t start well. We haven’t done anything we said we would do in training so we all needed to step up and second half we showed that and we did that.

"We were unfortunate not to at least get away with a draw but it is the way of the game and we will dust ourselves off and go again next week."

Lewes (4-4-2): Tatiana Saunders, Samantha Quayle, Rhian Cleverly, Nicola Cousins, Sophie O’Rourke, Danielle Lane, Filippa Savva, Ellie Leek, Emily Donovan, Georgia Timms, Katie Rood

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Substitutes: Hannah Griffin for Donovan 66, Ellie Hack for Timms 79, Emily Jones for Leek 79, Sarah Kempson for Rood 88, Megan Mackey for Savva 88

Substitutes not used: Laura Hartley, Ella Newman, Charley Boswell, Simran Jhamrat

Goal: Cleverly 6

Bookings: Kempson 90

Coventry United (4-2-3-1): Susan Wood, Hayley Crackle, Nikki Miles, Anna Wilcox, Chelsea Weston, Marie Gauntlett, Phoebe Warner, Helen Dermody, Beth Merrick, Amy Wathan, Shannon O’Brien

Substitutes: Katy Morris for Dermody 40, Amber Hughes for Warner 62

Substitutes not used: Holly Chandler, Georgia Popple, Anna Colville, Becky Anderson, Jenna Roberts

Bookings: Merrick 31, Gauntlett 75

Referee: Stephen Hawkes

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