Lewes Ladies hit the road this Sunday, heading to title-chasing Charlton Athletic.

20502778428_67a9491502_oLewes Ladies hit the road this Sunday, heading to title-chasing Charlton Athletic. Two weeks ago the Rookettes showed their guests just how tough this run-in could be, finally going down to a deflected Stef Simmons free kick, having given as good as they got for most of the match. Match report:

http://www.cafcwomen.co.uk/news/charlton-1-0-lewes-1684.php

Last Sunday Lewes came up against a resolute Spurs team who defended deep and hit their opponents on the break, goals at either end of the first half proving enough to take all three points. Manager John Donoghue has called upon his players to reach the levels of the previous three games, which saw Lewes score 9 goals on the road before that terrific battle at the Dripping Pan with Sunday’s hosts.

Charlton are having an excellent season, scoring goals for fun and chasing the Shegulls all the way. Last Sunday saw their cause set back, however, as they drew 1-1 at home to Coventry, a result that ‘does neither side any favours’ – match report:

http://www.cafcwomen.co.uk/news/charlton-1-1-coventry-united-1694.php

Charlton we be desperate for all three points on Sunday, having fallen 5 behind Brighton with just the one game in hand.

Kick off at Thamesmead: 2pm

Late Merstham comeback denies Rooks all three points

A late comeback from Merstham denied Lewes all three points in a result that moves the Rooks off the foot of the table for the first time in several months, but prevents them significantly closing the gap on the sides outside the relegation zone reports Tom Harper.

Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that had drawn 0-0 with Wingate just two days previously, with Dee Okojie and Jonte Smith replacing Ronnie Conlon and Charlie Coppola in the starting line-up.

 Smith deserves huge credit for turning out for the Rooks less than 48 hours after representing Bermuda, especially after only arriving at Heathrow at lunchtime after his flight back to the UK had been diverted to Manchester this morning due to bad weather.

 The return of Smith saw the Rooks make a bright start, and he opened the scoring after just four minutes, as he was on hand to finish from close range after Merstham had been unable to clear a corner from Henry Muggeridge.

 The Rooks were playing some excellent football, and were looking to use the pace of Okojie and Muggeridge out wide to stretch the Merstham back four at every opportunity.  Merstham have enjoyed an impressive first season in Ryman Premier since winning promotion last season though, and saw Tom Kavanagh shoot straight at Chris Winterton from the edge of the area as they came into the game more as the half progressed.

The hosts should have equalised minutes later, as former Lewes winger Arron Hopkinson latched onto a through-ball but was denied by Winterton when clean through on goal.

 Despite creating few clear-cut opportunities, the Rooks could have doubled their lead just before the break, as Jonte Smith latched onto a long kick forward from Winterton only to see Josh Smith in the Merstham goal save his effort from a tight angle.

Lewes made the best possible start to the second half by doubling their lead just four minutes after the restart. Leon Redwood was the scorer, beating Josh Smith at his near post with an accurate 25-yard free-kick.

Having rarely threatened up to this point, Merstham started playing on the front foot and gave the Rooks plenty of defending to do as they looked to find a way back into the game.

Kershaney Samuels saw a goal-bound effort blocked before the ball was eventually cleared, and Charlie Penny completely mis-hit a shot at the far post when it seemed easier to score after good work down the left from Hopkinson.

The hosts were handed a route back into the game after 74 minutes, as Michael Abnett was caught by Winterton as he broke into the penalty area. Penny took the spot-kick, and waited for Winterton to dive to his left before calmly rolling the ball down the middle of the goal to halve the deficit.

Merstham completed their comeback just five minutes later, as substitute Calum Willock scrambled the ball home from close range after the Rooks had been unable to clear an inswinging free-kick from Hopkinson.

Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing stages, with Okojie, Steve Brinkhurst and substitute Ronnie Conlon all just missing the target for Lewes, and Hopkinson shooting straight at Winterton when well placed for the hosts.

However, despite the best efforts of both teams, the game finished all square, a result Merstham will undoubtedly be happier with after being two goals down with less than 20 minutes remaining.

Based on clear-cut chances created, a draw may just about have been a fair result, but Lewes will view this as a missed opportunity having held the lead and defended so well for such long periods of the game.

This result stretches the Rook’s unbeaten run to five games, but it has been the inability to convert draws into wins during that run that has prevented Lewes from closing the gap any further on the sides immediately above the relegation zone.

Lewes will hope to extend their unbeaten run and pick up three vital points when they travel to Kingstonian on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.

Merstham: Smith, Abnett, Campbell, Douglas, Henriques (Cooper 8), Samuels, Brown (Rhule 67), Kavanagh, Penny, Howard (Willock 46), Hopkinson.

Unused Subs: Azeez, Nehemie.

Booked: Campbell.

Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Carey, Freeman, Malins, Muggeridge (Coppola 82), Hammond (Conlon 67), Smith (Greenfield 51), Laing, Okojie.

Unused Subs: Badger, Stroomberg.

Booked: None.

Referee: Neil West

Attendance: 196

Merstham Preview

The good news from Saturday was that most of the other results went our way.  The bad news was that we couldn’t break down the defensive barriers of Wingate & Finchley plus the hurricane force wind.  Whilst we never really looked like conceding, our chances at the other end of the field were limited.  Whilst only gaining a point was harsh, we have the opportunity to grab more with a short trip on Easter Monday to Merstham for the first time in a league fixture.

Fingers crossed we will welcome back Jonte Smith, literally straight off the plane from Cuba, where he has been on International duty for Bermuda in the Caribbean Cup, whilst Lloyd Cotton is available after his two game suspension.  Josh Street may also be back in contention after missing Saturday’s game due to injury.

Merstham’s impressive season continued on Saturday when a Callum Willock hatrick saw off Grays Athletic.  Their recent form has been decent with three wins from their last six games, as well as winning seven games (scoring 24 goals in the process) since their 1-0 defeat to the Rooks back in January.  Their main threat comes from the trio of front players Willock, Charlie Penny (15 league goals so far this season) and Phil Page, whilst attacking midfielder Fabio Saraiva is always a threat.  Our only previous game against them came in January when Trevor McCreadie’s very late winner gave us all three points.

Kick off at The Moatside Stadium is 3pm on Monday.

Rooks held by Wingate & Wind

A hard-working display was not enough to help Lewes to three points in a game of few chances against mid-table Wingate, with the Rooks now sitting 12 points from safety with just five games remaining reports Tom Harper.

Darren Freeman made one change to the side that had won 1-0 at Brentwood in their previous game, with Charlie Coppola replacing Josh Street in the starting line-up.

The Rooks got off to a bright start and nearly went ahead early on through Ronnie Conlon, who saw his effort from the edge of the area parried by goalkeeper Charlie Crowley before James Hammond had his effort on the rebound blocked.  The visitors posed an occasional threat going forward themselves though, as Karl Oliyide sent an effort from the edge of the area just wide after an impressive passing move.

Lewes had an excellent chance to take the lead after just over 20 minutes, as Alex Laing sent a close-range volley straight at Crowley after an excellent run and cross from Hammond.  The Rooks were playing some impressive passing football in midfield, but were unable to turn possession into clear-cut goalscoring opportunities during the remainder of the first half.

Wingate were creating few chances themselves, but did come close twice in the closing stages of the half, as Rob Laney just failed to get on the end of a Tommy Cummings cross in front of goal, before Billy Healey headed over from close range when he should have hit the target.

Lewes started the second half with a strong wind behind them and very nearly used it to their advantage within minutes of the restart, as Crowley was only able to parry a long-range free-kick from Leon Redwood.  The introduction of debutant Richard Greenfield just after the hour gave the Rooks more of a presence up front, although they were finding it difficult to stretch the well-organised Wingate back four.

The visitors seemed happy enough with a point at this stage, but nearly took the lead in the last 20 minutes through right-back Mark Goodman, who saw his long-range effort hit the side-netting.  Lewes continued to push for a winner in the closing stages and nearly found one in stoppage time, as Henry Muggeridge saw an effort from a tight angle deflected wide of the far post.

Unfortunately for the majority of the impressive crowd of 560 at the Pan, the resulting corner came to nothing and the Rooks were forced to settle for a point which closes the gap on the teams above them but still leaves them bottom of the league.

There is still plenty of fight amongst the management and players though, and they will hope to close the gap further at Merstham on Monday, kick-off at 3pm.

Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Carey, Freeman, Malins, Muggeridge, Hammond, Coppola (Greenfield 62), Laing, Conlon

Unused Subs: Okojie, Ben El-Mhanni, Badger, Stroomberg

Booked: None.

Wingate & Finchley: Crowley, Goodman, Cummings, Risat, Weatherstone, Fisher, Addai, Bartram, Healey (Read 78), Laney, Oliyide (Foley 83)

Unused Sub: Stevenson

Booked: Cummings

Referee: David Spain

Attendance: 560

Ronnie and Hammo sign on the dotted line

Even with a month of the season still to run, Darren Freeman has already started his planning for next season and has moved to secure the services of two of our brightest young stars. On Thursday night, both James Hammond and Ronnie Conlon signed contracts that will keep them at the club until the end of next season. The two midfielders have been instrumental in the upturn in results since Christmas.

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“Both Ronnie and Hammo have impressed me with their attitude,” said Darren, “especially when we’ve gone through a few tough patches.  Both have great futures in the game and I am thrilled that they have agreed to be part of my plans for next season.”

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Conlon, 18, is a product of the successful Lewes Academy and has progressed through the Rooks’ youth system, through the Development Squad, to become a vital cog in the Lewes midfield since his first team debut less than a year ago. In less than 12 months, the midfield playmaker has appeared 34 times for the first team and his growing influence has been felt with two goals, against Grays Athletic and Hendon, in the last month.

Hammond has appeared a dozen times for the Rooks since his switch from Peacehaven and Telscombe in November. The 19 year old first broke into the Magpies side as a 16 year old and the central midfielder’s energetic and combative displays in red and black have caught the eye, including the wonder strike in the 3-1 win against Dulwich Hamlet in February.

Wingate & Finchley Preview plus Darren’s update

Wingate & Finchley arrive at The Pan on Saturday looking to get back on track after a poor spell of form.  Prior to their win at Brentwood Town on Tuesday (thank you for that one!) they had only taken two points from five games.  After a decent first half of the season, Director of Football Simon Lane departed the club just after Christmas and was replaced by former West Ham and Northern Ireland full-back Keith Rowland.  Since then the club’s form has stuttered but they have enough points on the board to be safe from relegation.

Our last game against them was back in January when we drew 1-1 in North Finchley, with Stacey Freeman’s early goal cancelled out by a late Healey penalty.  Prior to that, our record against The Blues has been excellent as we have won two-thirds of our recent encounters against them.  The current record reads:-

P DGF 19 GA 8

Our visitor’s away form has been quite good this year with 8 wins on the road, although they have lost four of their last eight away from the Harry Abrahams Stadium.  They’ve scored 27 and conceded 25 in their 19 away ties so it could be a close encounter on Saturday.  Rowland has been busy in the last few weeks bringing in some new faces including Chris Haigh from Braintree Town, Aaron Pollock and Freddie Moncur (son of John Moncur) from Leyton Orient.

Darren will still be without Lloyd Cotton (serving the second of his two game suspension), although his red card from the VCD game has now been rescinded on appeal to the FA (although no help in getting the lost points back) whilst Jonte Smith is still away with Bermuda in the Caribbean Cup as we look to extend our excellent home form and grab another three points in our battle against relegation.

Despite our league position, Darren remains upbeat.

“As a manager, I hate this time of season. We’re approaching the March 31st transfer deadline, and it’s a time when clubs can throw in seven-day approaches and players come and go. It’s important that we all continue to keep the faith. Everyone’s working massively hard behind the scenes. In particular, I’d like to thank Joe and Jack Fingerneissl for all the work they’ve done to give us a magnificent playing surface, that any player should be proud to play on.

With few midweek games in recent weeks, we’ve been on the training ground, working hard on our shape. The lads have been magnificent in training and I feel that’s being put into practice on the pitch and we’re starting to get rewards – rewards such as three points from Brentwood last Saturday.

The boys had to work hard for the result in Essex. They sat with ten people behind the ball and it took a bit of time to break them down, but I was really pleased to see Henry score. With Jonte Smith away on international duty, we went with two young strikers up top: Josh Street and Alex Laing, who both played well. Josh showed a lot of maturity for a 16-year-old lad.

Talking of talents, I was pleased to see Jonte scoring for Bermuda against Cuba earlier this week. It’s hard for a manager to lose a player at any time of the season, let alone in the run-in, but I was pleased Jonte got the opportunity to play for his country and took that opportunity with both hands. He earned that call-up by coming down here to Lewes and scoring seven goals for us in the short time he’s been here. It’s a credit to him and all the other lads for creating the chances for him to score, and it’s fantastic for Lewes to have player that represented their country and scored a goal.

They should also be – and are – proud to play for the fans of this club. You were great against VCD and we really appreciate all the people who made the trip to Brentwood. I note Henry really showed his appreciation with Ethel! Keep backing the boys and we’ll keep giving it our all.”

Kick off on Saturday at The Pan is 3pm.

Lewes Ladies 1st Team travel away once more. This time to Tottenham Hotspurs FA WPL

Lewes Ladies First XI head for Cheshunt FC this Sunday for their FA WPL encounter with Tottenham Hotspur ladies.

#WeArePremier

Venue Chestnut FC. The Stadium, Theobalds Lane, Chestnut, Herts. EN8 8RU. Kick Off 2pm.

Spurs away is historically a tough encounter. This season will be no different, the hosts flying high off the back of reaching no less than three cup finals. They play with a strong physical edge, set piece specialist and midfield enforcer Alex Keown and forward duo Martin and Baptiste the main danger, with the lively Kmitr and Blanchflower exciting options in midfield.

Recent league form has seen Spurs lose a tight contest with neighbours West Ham on a special night at Upton Park’s iconic Boleyn ground, in between doing the double over Plymouth Argyle.

Lewes are putting together a strong run of their own, with convincing away wins against Plymouth and Forest Green Rovers bookending the narrowest of defeats to title contenders Charlton Athletic.

We’re looking forward to a cracking Premier League contest.