Lewes lose opener to Bristol City - but only after a battle

Bristol City fought back to beat Lewes 2-1 and win on their FA Women’s Championship return to their home city at the Robins High Performance Centre, writes Will Perringwood of Sportsbeat.
Lewes went ahead but lost 2-1 at Bristol City / Picture: James BoyesLewes went ahead but lost 2-1 at Bristol City / Picture: James Boyes
Lewes went ahead but lost 2-1 at Bristol City / Picture: James Boyes

Following five years in the top tier of English women’s football, City were relegated last season – having also spent a year playing at Bath’s Twerton Park. But the home comforts and a strong crowd of 507 saw them fight back to grab their first points of the new campaign gainst Simon Parker's Rooks, following an opening day 4-3 defeat away to Crystal Palace.

It was Lewes who took the lead after 26 minutes when Freda Ayisi flicked the ball over the Robins’ defence for strike partner Ini Umotong to smash into the top corner for a 1-0 half-time lead. Six minutes into the second half Lewes striker Kellie Balfour found herself all alone but her powerful shot was straight at Fran Bentley in the home goal.

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Robins skipper Aimee Palmer then had a long-range effort fly wide after 64 minutes before the equaliser arrived around 60 seconds later. With the away side complaining about having a player down injured with cramp, Robins striker Abi Harrison let fly with a howitzer of a strike from all of 35 yards out, which flew into the right corner.

Shortly afterwards, Bristol City substitute Mel Johnson was brought down in the Lewes penalty area and Simran Jhamat dispatched the spot-kick under the keeper to lead 2-1. City saw out the victory and will now look to build upon the foundation they travel to Liverpool next week, while Lewes host London City Lionesses.

Lewes defender Sophie O’Rourke said: “We were very disappointed with the result. In the first half we were the better team and although we kept losing possession quite a lot, we managed to keep it together.

“Then in the second half we gave them two easy goals and could not get back in the game from there.

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“We need to have better discipline and learn how to react to going behind in the first place because at that point there was still 25 minutes left to play and it is only 1-1, so how can we rebuild as a team and refocus and then go again.

“I don’t think fitness was the issue there because we definitely had a hard pre-season campaign and worked very hard during training.

“But the other team, to be fair, did have a game last week so maybe that gave them a bit more match fitness. We have worked hard all season and fitness is definitely not going to be a problem.”

Bristol head coach Lauren Smith said: “I put the fightback down to the players and their resiliency, they have got belief in each other and that just shows through in every game we have played as a group."

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Lewes: Tatiana Saunders; Charley Boswell, Sophie O’Rourke, Rhian Cleverly (c), Ellie Hack; Amelia Hazard, Izzy Dalton, Paula Howells, Kallie Balfour; Ini Umotong, Freda Ayisi. Substitutes: Heidi Logan for Howells 56, Zoe Cross for Ayisi 57, Lara Miller for Hazard 80, Nicola Cousins for Boswell 82, Substitutes not used: Shanell Salgado, Lucy Ashworth-Clifford, Georgia Timms

To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

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