Lewes Ladies FC 2 C&K Basildon 1
FA WPL, Dripping Pan, Sunday 17th April 2016
Lewes underlined a strong finish to this FA WPL season with a hard-earned win against a resilient C&K Basildon side. Goals from Danielle Lane and Natasha Wells secured the points in an action-packed encounter at the Dripping Pan.
Lauren Dolbear returned between the sticks. With Paige Walder suspended Kellie Larkin started in midfield. After a scrappy opening ten minutes Lewes took in the initiative, driven forward by Wells on the left, Hayley West on the right, Danielle Lane and Sian Heather moving through the centre.
It was Lane who opened the scoring on 16 minutes. Having seen an earlier effort well saved by Molly Povey, the Lewes 10 took the ball inside from the right, ran across the D and smashed a low drive into the bottom corner. 1-0.
Lewes continued to dominate, Lane creating a chance for Sian Heather, the striker’s deft flick well blocked by Clare Lacey. On the half hour Kelly Newton, once again controlling midfield, conceded a foul 30 yards from goal. Rushen’s well-placed delivery was parried by Dolbear before Rodney pounced to tap home the loose ball. 1-1.
Lane and Wells combined and almost re-took the lead. As Lane pressured the defenders, an errant back-pass fell to Wells wide on the left. She placed her shot on target but Povey did brilliantly to get back and make the save.
After the beak Lewes carried on as they’d left off, Katie McIntye linking well with Kellie Larkin to set up Wells. Lane continued her excellent form, showing quick feet to leave defenders in her wake, Heather making runs across the box to create space.
A moment of madness from Charlotte Long on 54 minutes changed the game. Penalised for a barge on Wells, she raced in to confront the Lewes player, clearly lashing out. Her team-mates reacted quickly to restrain her, piling in on top of her. As the referee consulted her assistants Long got free and tried to continue her wild assault. Credit to the Basildon players who intercepted her, skipper Claire Lacey doing her best to calm things down.
The inevitable red card triggered yet another tantrum and the player had to be escorted from the field by one of her supporters. A truly shocking incident that marred an otherwise hard but fair contest. Basildon shuffled the pack, bringing Flowers on for Huggins, and the game restarted.
Hayley West, bombing forward on the right, delivered a series of testing crosses, Lane getting on the end of one, her header well held by Povey. On the hour Dani Lane once again found a killer pass to split the C&K defence, Wells’s finish cleared off the line by Stephanu before Lewes regained the lead. A superb Katie McIntyre corner dropped for Wells who made sure with a solid finish from 6 yards. 2-1.
Hayley West had the crowd on her feet when she cut inside to curl a terrific left-foot effort from the D, the ball beating Povey before smashing back off the crossbar. Ten-woman Basildon regrouped and, incredibly, took the initiative, Lewes forced to defend as the visitors pressed high looking for an equaliser.
On 70 minutes West and Stacey Little, both fully committed, rose to compete for a high ball. West span away as Little went down like a sack of spuds and lay still. After several minutes’ treatment she left the field, dazed and clutching her face. West recovered and was able to continue.
Lewes rallied, Lane and Heather combining to set up Larkin who shot wide. Basildon responded, the excellent Karissa Rodney crashing into Dolbear’s upright, inches way from connecting with Nash’s smart delivery. Baldock replaced Capon and made an immediate impact, using her strength and height to win possession and ease pressure.
Basildon weren’t done. Twice in the last ten minutes Rodney broke away, twice she found herself one-on-one with Dolbear and twice the Lewes ‘keeper came out to save bravely with her legs. Charlie Carter lashed a clearance high over the fence as the referee ended a gripping contest. FT 2-1.
This game had everything. Two fully committed teams, great goals, bravery, quality on the ball and a jaw-dropping meltdown. Long will know that she let her team down today. Her team-mates can be proud of the way they responded, both during the incident and thereafter in the match. For Lewes this was yet another in a series of commanding performances that has seen them rise up the table, this win taking them above their opponents on goal difference.
The season may be over at the Dripping Pan but there is one more very special match to be played on the evening of Tuesday 26th April. Lewes Ladies FC will play a All Star XI to celebrate the remarkable career of one of the best players ever to pull on the red and black shirt; Kelly Newton. Be there if you can.
MvP as chosen by match sponsors Sue and Lynda: Danielle Lane
Lewes: Dolbear, Capon, Carter, Palmer, Newton, McIntyre, West, Larkin, Wells, Lane, Heather
Lewes subs: Lock, Spice, Baldock
Basildon: Povey, Long, Lacey (c), Stimson, Stephanu, Little, Rushen, Nash, Huggins, Rodney, Mellors
Basildon bench: Browers, Wakefield, Bradley, De Bell