Lewes and Crystal Palace claimed a point each in 1-1 draw at a boisterous Dripping Pan, with both sides ruing a number of missed opportunities in an open, entertaining contest on the south coast.
The home side could have been out of sight in the opening quarter of an hour, with Jess King and Zoe Ness both working Lucy Gillett early on, and with Katie Rood enjoying the freedom of the right-hand side, Fran Alonso’s side’s intent was clear to see.
In Bianca Baptiste, however, Palace always had a willing, pacy outlet and the diminutive winger hit the post when she arguably should have done better from just inside the penalty box.
A large crowd were very much kept involved as chances continued to be created at both ends – Ashleigh Goddard headed over despite finding herself all alone in the penalty area, and King just unable to squeeze in Emma Jones, who was all set to pull the trigger.
Just when thoughts of a goalless draw were beginning to look like a reality, the game burst into life. A speculative hanging cross from Ella Rutherford wasn’t dealt with by Faye Baker in the Lewes goal, and Goddard gobbled up the spillage to finally break the deadlock.
That only served to ignite the women in red and black, and it was King who restored parity just a minute later. The striker found a pocket of space just inside the Palace half and despite Gillett bravely coming out to thwart her first attempt, the Lewes playmaker expertly lofted her second high into the top-right corner.
Magda Mosengo almost rocked Lewes seconds later when she charged down a loose back pass to Baker, which ricocheted to safety, but it was to end honours even and a deserved point apiece.
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Lewes goal scorer Jess King: “We had a lot of chances, but things just didn’t go for us today. We’re disappointed to only come away with the draw, as we did all the right things but obviously being more clinical is something we need to look at.
“We had a game-plan, which we stuck to, and even after they scored and shocked us a little bit, we responded really well. We had the momentum I felt going into the last few minutes, but it just wasn’t our day today.
“I do feel like we’ve lost a couple of points because we showed all the intent and pushed to score goals. Yes, I’m pleased that we didn’t lose it, especially after going behind, but there’s a lot we can use to build on, take forward - from this game and the Charlton game - and start collecting wins.”
Crystal Palace boss Dean Davenport: “Coming to Lewes is difficult, so of course I’m pleased with our effort today. I felt either side could have won it as it was a pretty open game at times, and we definitely deserved to get something out of it.
“We weathered the storm a little bit in that early period, but all the work we’ve done in the past four or five weeks around being compact and difficult to break down came to fruition and defensively we were excellent.
“My girls threw themselves at everything that came their way and, but for a little bit of composure and maybe some luck, we could have won it.
“Bianca’s hit the post, Ash has popped it over from close range and it’s on moments like that a game can change.
"You must remember though we’re still at an early stage in terms of this group after bringing in eleven new players over the summer. All the early signs show me that we can be a real presence in this division this year, and results like today show we can compete.”
Lewes Women (4-2-1-3): Faye Baker; Charlie Boswell, Katie McIntyre (capt), Rhian Cleverley, Samantha Quayle; Danielle Lane, Ellie Noble; Jess King; Emma Jones, Zoe Ness, Katie Rood
Substitutes: Emily Donovan for Jones 60, Caitlin Hayes for Cleverley 77, Filippa Savva for Lane 89
Substitutes not used: Issy Foster, Emily Jones, Amy Taylor, Ava Rowbotham
Bookings: Jones 55
Red Cards: None
Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1): Lucy Gillett; Nicole Pepper, Amy Goddard, Hannah Mackenzie, Annabel Johnson; Ella Rutherford, Leeta Rutherford, Andria Georgiou, Bianca Baptiste; Ashleigh Goddard; Ashlee Hincks (capt)
Substitutes: Magda Mosengo for Hinks 10, Aoife Hurley for Georgiou 64, Rea Laudat for Mosango 82
Substitutes not used: Jordan Butler, Ciara Watling, Cherelle Khassal, Emma Gibbons
Bookings: Baptiste 43, Georgiou 54, Leeta Rutherford 62, Mackenzie 70
Red Cards: None
Referee: Chloe-Ann Anderson