Half-season review: Lewes Ladies

JDManager John Donoghue reports on his first few months in charge

This season has seen big changes for the women’s team, after having a consistent management team and a body of players that have been at the club for many seasons. Once Jacquie decided to step up to board level and several players made the decision to retire, we had to start the process of rebuilding a team and looking to support those players who did decide to stay.

There have been several players that came in to bolster a squad that was thin on the ground and both sets of players have quickly become a team that works for and with each other. The players who were already at the club deserve great credit for welcoming the newcomers and making them feel comfortable joining the team.

Whilst attempting to gel the players, my main focus has been to play a more attacking style of play. That has seen us scoring a great number of goals – 13 in the past 4 games – but unfortunately, at times, we have been caught leaving gaps once we commit players forward.

The support that I’ve had from the board, and especially Jacquie, has been fantastic, allowing us to add a second training session a week, supporting the medical side, and allowing me to get the team to play a brand of football which is high risk. Once it is bedded in and we add a few players, the team will be able to complete with the top four in the league, rather than consolidate each year by staying in the league.

The players and staff have worked hard to drive the team forward, despite facing opponents with big budgets who have played in the top tier of the women’s game for a number of years. I am sure that these players can achieve the ambitions that the club and myself have, if we get consistency of availability and performance.

My aim for the new year will be to take training, player support and expectation of the players to another level. In order to win we need a professional approach from all concerned. The key for me is the detail: we need to step up training attendance, availability of players for games, coaching practices and medical support.

We play in the top tier of winter football, and to play at this level takes a huge commitment, often costing players money to play by leaving work early or traveling to training. We need to recognise that unless we do more than our opponents and make sacrifices, then we won’t get the rewards.

Best wishes,

John

Blewden Rocks Rooks world

A second-half Luke Blewden goal helped Lewes to an impressive Sussex derby victory over Bognor, in front of an excellent crowd of 1,007 on a bitterly cold afternoon at the Pan.

Both sides looked to play a passing game early on, although there were no chances of note during a relatively quiet opening 20 minutes.  Lewes had the first chance of the game, a short corner by Tommy Fraser finding Tom Davis, who saw his initial effort from the edge of the area blocked before sending the rebound just wide of the post.  Sam Cole was impressing for the Rooks down the left, and Fraser and Davis were helping to control the game in midfield.

Bognor came into the game more as the half progressed though, with Alex Parsons on the right wing being their main outlet.  It was from a dangerous Parsons cross that the visitors should arguably have taken the lead, as in-form striker Jason Prior headed wide at the far post under pressure from Chris Breach.  The visitors had an even better chance soon after, as the ball broke to James Crane in front of goal after an impressive passing move in midfield, but he saw his tame effort comfortably saved by the previously untroubled Rikki Banks.

Bognor started the second half brightly and went close to taking the lead when Prior sent a long-range effort over the crossbar.  Having created very few clear-cut opportunities throughout the game, the Rooks took the lead after 58 minutes.  Luke Blewden was the scorer, powerfully heading home an excellent Nick Wheeler cross from the left to net his eighth goal of the season.

Lewes were now full of confidence and enjoying their best spell of the game, with Blewden almost doubling his tally within minutes as he latched onto a lofted through-ball from Davis and sent a low effort just wide of the far post.  Having been on the back-foot for large periods of the second half, Bognor began to see more of the ball during the final 15 minutes and cause the Rooks defence problems.

Most of their opportunities came from corners, as Crane saw a close-range effort on the turn go wide after the Rooks had been able to clear a set-piece, before Stuart Green sent a curling strike over the crossbar in almost identical circumstances.  In between these two chances, Prior had also somehow failed to convert from close range after Banks had only been able to parry a low effort from Craig Robson.

Lewes’ cause wasn’t helped with one minute of regular time plus five additional minutes remaining, as Matt Crabb picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Doug Tuck.  Despite being down to ten men, Lewes saw out injury-time relatively comfortably and almost doubled their lead when Fraser spotted Chris Winterton off his line and sent an audacious 35-yard lob onto the roof of the net.

Although Bognor created more clear-cut opportunities throughout the game, Lewes saw just as much of the ball as the visitors and always looked dangerous with their pace in the wide areas.

This win continues an unbeaten league run going back to the middle of October, and has also seen the Rooks move three points clear of the bottom four having played at least three games less than the sides currently in the relegation zone.

Next up for the Rooks is a tough trip to Ryman Premier leaders Margate on New Year’s Day, kick-off at 3pm.

Lewes: Banks, S. Crabb (N. Crabb 84), Cole, Rowe, Breach, Badger, Wheeler (Appiah 90), Davis, Blewden (Romain 90), Fraser, M.Crabb.

Unused Subs: Griffiths, Marshall.

Booked: None.

Sent off: M. Crabb.

Bognor Regis Town: Winterton, Whyte, Crane, Tuck, Sackman, Robson, Green, Thomson (Oatway 74), Prior, Pearce (Lawson 90), Parsons.

Unused Subs: Branford, Hawker.

Booked: Crane, Prior.

Referee: Graham Kane

Attendance: 1,007

Rooks claim Christmas draw

FullSizeRenderLewes were left rueing missed chances as they left Harrow Borough with a point, writes Barry Collins.

For the opening half an hour or so, you’d have wagered the family’s Christmas presents on Lewes leaving West London with all three points, as the Rooks rampaged through a bewildered Harrow defence. The two Sams on either flank where attacking with impunity, whilst Harrow’s back line offered little more than gifts to the club’s neighbours, hacking a succession of balls into surrounding back gardens.

Sam Crabb had a near monopoly on the first-half opportunities. He slammed a long-distance strike high and wide in the opening minutes, before placing a free header over the bar. He made no mistake at the third time of asking, however. Leroy Griffiths flicked on a cross from the left-hand side, straight onto the toes of the advancing wing-back, who tucked it home from a tight angle.

The Harrow defence were slow on the uptake, and Crabb could easily have doubled the lead just moments later, as he was presented with an almost identical chance to the one that gave Lewes the lead, but this time he could find only the side-netting.

The traffic was so one-way we were waiting for the council to turn up with blue signs bearing white arrows, when the game suddenly swung. Harrow broke down the left and whipped a ball into the box, Banks hesitated, and Greg Ngoyi escaped his markers to plant a header into the net with Harrow’s first chance from open play on the 37th minute.

The goal seemed to drain Lewes of their early confidence, and thereafter the match descended into a scrappy affair with chances at either end. Banks atoned for his earlier error with several great saves in the second half, none better than the one moments into part two, when Harold Odametey breezed past the Lewes defence but couldn’t convert his one-on-one showdown with Banksy.

Lewes had several opportunities to make off with the three points, too. Sam Crabb and Ollie Rowe both passed up great opportunities to square a ball to an unmarked colleague, and substitute Luke Blewden blazed a presentable opportunity over the bar. Garry Wilson sacrificed Jordan Badger for Nathan Crabb in the final minutes as Lewes pushed for the winner, but the closest they came was a Wheeler effort that landed in the car park.

Harrow almost nabbed it in injury time, as a cross from the left found the Harrow substitute Kaba unmarked in the middle. Thankfully, he showed the true spirit of the season of goodwill, and both teams shook hands on a point.

Photo courtesy of Graham Evans

Harrow: Jupp, Smith, Salapatas, Maissiat, Sonuga, Hall, Odametey, Hope, Charles-Smith, Ngoyi (Kaba 72), McCluskey

Unused subs: Dyer, Bryan, Walker, English

Booked: Salapatas, Odametey

Lewes: Banks, S Crabb, Cole, Rowe, Breach, Badger (N Crabb 72), Davis, M Crabb, Fraser, Wheeler (Muggeridge 86), Griffiths (Blewden 62)

Unused subs: Romain, Lovegrove

Booked: Davis

Attendance: 161

Huet’s Hat-trick Heroics

Dan Huet’s season is going from strength to strength and the young striker has now surpassed two of the world’s best in this season’s hat-trick stakes. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored an impressive three hat-tricks this season while Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is currently outdoing his La Liga rival by having four trebles to his name but that’s nothing on 18 year old Lewes striker Dan Huet who last night picked up an amazing FIFTH hat-trick for his Ryman U18s side.Dan Huet

The remarkable feat has come in only 11 games this season and his latest triple strike helped his side to a comfortable 5-1 home victory over Hastings United. Huet now has 19 goals in total and his hat-tricks have come in matches against Chichester City, Westfield, Eastbourne Town, Worthing and Hastings United. The club are delighted and Dan should be proud of such a fantastic achievement. Director Charlie Dobres presented him with a match ball signed by his teammates to honour the event (pictured).

Last night’s match was a slick display in passing football which was even more impressive considering the high winds and rain which hit the south coast. Reece Markwick took the number one jersey for the first time this season and Liam Knight made his Rooks debut at left back after recovering from an injury picked up in pre-season.

It was the man of the moment Huet who opened the scoring with a fine drilled effort just after the quarter hour and only minutes later he had the opportunity to make it two but his penalty was easily saved by McNamee in the Arrows goal.

Further chances were spurred by the impressive Ronnie Conlon and Adam Christian but the second finally came in bizarre circumstances when Jack Whitmore’s deep corner evaded everyone – will a little help from the swirling wind – and ended up in the top corner of the net five minutes from the break. That was the skipper’s fourth goal of an excellent season for the 16 year old midfielder.

Playing into the strong wind in the second half didn’t seem to affect the home side and it only took a couple of minutes for Conlon to play a perfectly weighted through ball for Tom Caplin who in turn provided an inch perfect cut back from the by-line for hotshot Huet to slot home his second and Lewes’ third.

The United players were now struggling to cope with the Young Rooks movement and on 50 minutes the outstanding Craig Avens delivered another inch perfect cross for Huet to plant his header firmly past McNamee. Five hat-tricks before Christmas – what a sensational record!

With the home side in cruise control they sloppily gave away a penalty which Hastings skipper Ben Phipps slotted home giving Markwick no chance. There was still enough time and desire to regain a four goal cushion when substitute Jack Barnes scored his first of the season when he finished off a well worked move to force the ball home from close range. The result put the U18s into fifth in the league with plenty of games in hand on the teams above them. A win at Worthing on Monday night (7.45pm kick off at Woodside Road, Worthing) would see the team climb the table again.

Hal Colmer gave a good account of himself on the left wing which hopefully impressed the on watching American Academy Scout whom attended the match to watch the talented left sided player. The club hope he will follow in Steven James footsteps and gain a scholarship in America.

Lewes were without number one David Carruthers who was representing the Independent Schools and Colleges England team at St Georges Park beating the Welsh Independent Schools. He continues his time with England as they face Premier League Crystal Palace Academy in their next match.

Manager Dave Amiet and his staff commented “the boys were outstanding tonight and made a good side look mediocre. The way we got the ball down and passed the ball around in horrendous conditions shows how far they have developed. Those that ventured out tonight to watch the lads were given a first class display and all involved with the Under 18’s wish thank them for their continued support”.

Team: Reece Markwick – Craig Avens – Liam Knight (Kyle Woolven 61) – Rabbit Kiabalenga – Adam Christian – Ollie Stevenson – Jack Whitmore – Dan Huet (Jack Barnes 81) – Tom Caplin ( Fred Ham 72) – Hal Colmer. Subs Not Used – Jack Meeres – Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke.

Goals: Huet 18, 47, 50 Whitmore 39 Barnes 88.

Rooks on wrong end of last minute drama at Billericay

We’ve lost count this the season the number of times that the Rooks have grabbed a vital goal in the dying seconds but today the boot was on the other foot as Billericay grabbed an injury time point, reports Stuart Fuller.

Garry Wilson named a very strong starting eleven with new signing Tommy Fraser coming straight into midfield alongside the returning Tom Davis and Jack Walder.  Billericay won an important toss, electing to swap ends so that the low winter sun was shining straight into the eyes of Rikki Banks.  It only took the home side 30 seconds to show their attacking intent as Sappleton’s effort struck the post. The home side continued to dominate with their physical, direct approach but that wasn’t the route used for the opening goal, scored by Sappleton as he ran through the middle of the Lewes defence and easily beat Banks.

Conditions weren’t ideal for the Lewes passing game but with Fraser and Davis linking up as if they had been team-mates for 24 games rather than 24 hours.  Slowly the Rooks started coming into the game, getting behind the home defence, especially with the width of Wheeler and Crabb.  Lewes forced corner after corner in the opening half hour and eventually the possession paid dividends as Cole made the run on the overlap, was found by a perfect pass from Davis and he calmly slotted into the net.

Six minutes later and the Rooks took the lead when the ball fell perfectly to Davis on the edge of the box and he showed some nibble feet as he wrong-footed the defender and placed the ball into the corner of the net.  Lewes smelt blood, playing the ball neatly along the ground as much as the pitch would allow.  Blewden burst through the defence but the erratic bobble on the muddy surface saw the ball run away from him.

Despite the positive performance, the Rooks lost Captain Jack Walder on the stroke of half-time as he worryingly limped off, his ankle once again causing a problem.

The second half saw both teams struggle with the playing surface.  Lewes tried to use width but struggled with the slope of the pitch at times.  Blewden and Wheeler both had good chances which flashed wide whilst at the other end Banks was forced to make a couple of point-blank saves.

With twenty minutes to go, Ricky Sappleton was given a straight red for a late and dangerous tackle on Fraser, resulting in the usual Non-League handbags.  The subsequent delay in restarting the game ultimately cost Lewes dear.  With four minutes of injury time played, Billericay launched a final ball into the box.  Chris Breach slipped allowing The Blues a clear sight of goal but the goal scoring opportunity was denied by Lovegrove, unfairly in the eyes of the official.  Penalty, a red card for Lovegrove and ultimately a heart-breaking equaliser for the home side from Richard Halle.

A draw in these circumstances feels like a defeat in the immediate aftermath of the game, but there were certainly more positives to take out of this game than negatives, especially the first half performance which was up there with the best we’ve seen this season.

Next up for the Rooks is a trip to Harrow Borough on Saturday 20th December.

Lewes: Banks, S Crabb, Cole, Rowe, Breach, Badger, Wheeler (N Crabb), Davis, Blewden (Romain), Walder (Lovegrove), Fraser

Subs: Griffiths, Muggeridge

Booked: Fraser

Rooks swoop for Tommy

Lewes have signed former Brighton midfielder Tommy Fraser and the 27-year-old will go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s game at Billericay.

Fraser began his career at Brighton, playing 102 games, and later had spells with Port Vale, Barnet, Whitehawk, Melbourne Knights and Ebbsfleet United.

He joined Peacehaven at the start of October but was released this week and Lewes immediately moved to sign him.

Danny Bloor said: “Tommy is a quality player and when he became available we would have been foolish not to have taken the opportunity to sign him. He will bring a lot of experience and will help us continue this good run we are on and take us further forward.”

Keep an eye on the Lewes FC Twitter feed @lewes_cfc with regards to any announcements ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Billericay Town as after last night’s heavy rain a pitch inspection may be required.