Glorious sunshine and a strong Spurs side left Lewes chasing shadows in a one-sided first half at the Dripping Pan. Only a string of smart saves from Rookettes ‘keeper Michelle Beazley kept the contest alive at the break, yet Lewes battled back to take a hard-earned point after an improved second half display reports Ash Head.
Both sides struggled to get their passing going in the early stages. Sian Heather chased a series of early passes but was unable to trouble Chloe Morgan in the Tottenham goal. On 12 minutes the Martin turned the Lewes defence to shoot low towards the bottom right corner. Somehow Beazley got down to palm the ball away.
With more possession Spurs took control, forcing Beazley into a series of saves. One, bravely at the feet of Martin, is certain to cost her a tasty bruise. On 34 minutes Palmer appeared to have cut out a slick passing move. Marcoci scrambled to reach the ball, the blocked clearance bobbling past Beazley and agonisingly over the line. 0-1. The goal stung Lewes into life. Nikki Payne cut inside her full-back to shoot narrowly wide. McIntyre saw a long range effort clatter into the Rook Inn. Spurs held firm and went into the break with a slender, if deserved, advantage. HT 0-1.
Shortly after the restart skipper Kelly Newton took a blow to the head and needed treatment. Heather hounded the Tottenham back line with support from O’Hagan but Spurs stood strong, using their strength to shield the ball. On 55 minutes Lewes made a double change which turned the match. Char Bennett replaced McCullock with Clare Trafford on for Heather. Bennett made an immediate impact, bursting through to shoot wide. Tash Wells danced through the Spurs midfield before releasing O’Hagan who shot into the side netting.
On 62 minutes Agnew brought on Spice for the tiring Payne. The home crowd howled in vain as Freddie Baker was cynically taken out on the byline. Bennett continued to show what Lewes have been missing, running at the Spurs defence, playing in first O’Hagan and then the lively Trafford. On 73 minutes Lewes produced their best move of the match. Wells, O’Hagan, Bennett, Newton and Baker combined, the final ball bouncing up to strike a Spurs defender on the arm. Penalty given.
O’Hagan placed the ball on the spot but waited a full minute whilst Spurs protested the decision, O’Leary booked for her trouble. Finally O’Hagan stepped up to slot coolly past Morgan. 1-1, 75 minutes.
Just as the Spurs goal lifted the home side, so the leveller rejuvenated the visitors. They made two changes, replacing the still smouldering 8, and we were treated to an end-to-end finale. Beazley cleared long, O’Hagan let it run and Bennett, relishing the physical battle, forced a shooting chance. Deft footwork from Trafford set up Spice to shoot from the D but Morgan held on. O’Hagan had a late chance to lob Morgan from a tight angle but the ball drifted wide. Deep into added time Spurs might have snatched all three points. First they had the ball in the Lewes net after clattering Beazley but the assistant flagged for offside, then Marcoci’s spinning cross narrowly missing the far post. FT 1-1. Honours even in the proverbial game of two halves.
MvP as chosen by match sponsors Lewes Estates: Katie McIntyre
Lewes: Beazley, Baker, Wells, Palmer, Smith, Newton, McCullock (Bennett, 55), McIntyre, Heather (Trafford, 55), O’Hagan, Payne (Spice, 62). Unused subs: Denny, Elcome
Spurs: Morgan, Smith, Squillaci, O’Hallorhan, Downie, Moloney, Cooper, O’Leary, Baptiste, Martin, Marcoci. Subs: Leon, Albertson, ‘Charlie’ (no surname provided)