Lewes Rookettes (0) 0-1 (0) Millwall Lionesses
Sunday 24 March 2013 – FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division
BY ANTHONY SCOTT
Lewes: Beazley, McIntyre, Smith, Elcome, Newton ©, Baker, Veiga, Botterill, Cole, Wells, Sauvage (Chiumento 69). Subs Not Used: Carter, Bridges, De Souza-Marques, Jones.
Millwall: Gibbs, Mackie, Strugnell, Sherwood, Grafton, Lennon ©, Griffiths, Ferguson, Igbavboia (Dawson 86), Chong (Elliot 56), Whitter. Subs Not Used: Richards, Payne.
Player of the Match: Katie McIntyre.
A late goal from Millwall’s Natalie Grafton broke the hearts of Lewes Rookettes as they came away empty handed after a good performance against the league leaders at The Dripping Pan.
The hosts started the game brightly, and if it wasn’t for some excellent goalkeeping from Lionesses’ keeper Frankie Gibbs they would have taken the lead after 16 minutes. Andreia Veiga received the ball on the edge of the area, and her effort was somehow clawed away by the diving keeper. Naomi Cole pounced onto the rebound, but Gibbs got up well to keep out her shot from a tight angle.
The Rookettes more than held their own against the league leaders, as just before the break Player of the Match Katie McIntyre burst down the right, beating Chantelle Mackie, before her cross picked out Kelly Newton, who out-jumped her marker, but only for Gibbs to hold on to her header from close range.
However, Millwall showed signs of posing a threat as the half progressed as Emma Whitter picked up the ball on the left, and then cut inside from the touchline, beating Leslie Smith, but her effort went well wide of the far corner from inside the penalty area.
And the visitors continued to threaten after the break, as Ciara Sherwood received a header from Whitter, but her dipping volley from the edge of the box went narrowly wide of the post.
Lewes keeper Michelle Beazley then produced a stunning save to keep the scores level, as Shauni Griffiths’ ambitious strike from just inside the Rookettes’ half appeared to catch Beazley off guard, but at full stretched she clawed the ball at the second attempt just before it crossed the line, before Vicky Elcome cleared.
Then as the game entered its final minutes, Lewes almost broke the deadlock when Jodie Botterill created an opening, but her effort was brilliantly blocked by the lunging Dionne Lennon. Cole then forced Gibbs into a save from the edge of the area, but the home crowd suffered heartbreak on the stroke of the 90th minute.
Griffiths lined up a free-kick from a dangerous position 25 yards out, and her effort forced Beazley into a great diving save, but the rebound eventually fell to Grafton eight yards out, who slammed the ball home past the defender on the line to give the visitors the lead late on.
But with seconds remaining, Lewes were denied a point by Gibbs once again, as Veiga fired the ball across from the left, and it avoided everyone as it headed for the far corner, but Gibbs at full stretch turned the ball around the far post to prevent the hosts from achieving what would have been a thoroughly deserved point.
The Rookettes now turn their attention to Thursday night, where they play Brighton & Hove Albion Ladies in the Final of the Sussex Women’s County Cup at Culver Road, Lancing.