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Lewes FC Ladies Push League Leaders To The Wire

Martin Double Denies Brave Rookettes
FAWPL South, Cheshunt FC
Sunday 12th February

A Wendy Martin double, the second a brilliant flicked header five minutes from time, sealed a win and top spot for Spurs after Lewes pushed them all the way. Lewes, without talismanic midfielder Katie McIntyre, replaced by returning skipper Kelly Newton, travelled to Cheshunt looking to test themselves against the best side in the division.

Juan Amoros had warned his players that this would be a tough challenge, and so it proved. With goalkeeper Lauren Dolbear in sparkling form, and a back four boosted by the return of Tammy Waine, Lewes stood firm. Martin linked well with Baptiste and Whinnett, yet they found Palmer, Thompson, West and Waine more than a match for their slick passing and clever runs.

Lewes looked lethal on the counter attack. Rebecca Carter, back after illness, ran the home side ragged, with Lane, Bridges and Heather in support. Leeta Rutherford pulled the strings as Newton notched her usual high tackle tally with a series of robust interventions. Lane, adapting to a more defensive role, proved a thorn in Tottenham’s side as she tracked back to make a some vital challenges.

Both sides created half-chances early on. Bridges and Carter found space in behind, Spurs grateful that Toni Anne Wayne was alert to the danger. At the other end Dolbear, showing good judgement and safe hands, made a fine save from a dangerous low cross, West on hand to complete the clearance as Martin closed in. Lewes won two corners and a free kick in quick succession, each time the referee spotting infringements by the visitors in the area.

On 34 minutes, after a spell of sustained pressure, Spurs broke the deadlock. Martin, looking sharp, latched onto a deflected cross. As Lewes appealed in vain for offside, she clipped the ball past Dolbear who somehow managed to claw the ball out, Martin stabbing home the rebound. 1-0.

Lewes rallied. Rutherford found Bridges wide left. Her clever turn and early pass sent Carter racing through on Wayne, the Lewes striker sending her attempted finish wide. HT 1-0.

Tottenham started the second half on the front foot, forcing good interceptions from Newton and Waine as Dolbear continued to claim anything in behind. Lewes started to win more of the ball, building pressure of their own. A superb ball over the top from Rachel Palmer sent Bridges through one on one, the Spurs keeper smothering the ball just as Bridges pulled the trigger. Moments later Bridges was in again, fed by Rutherford. She got her shot away this time, Wayne saving with her feet.

The decisive moment of the match arrived on 67 minutes. Sian Heather raced away on the right. Marshalled by two defenders, she cut back inside to curl a fabulous left-foot strike around the retreating defenders and under the diving Wayne. As Lewes celebrated the linesman signalled to the referee, and a free kick was awarded for offside. Bridges, who had followed in close to the Spurs keeper, deemed to have interfered with play.

Undaunted, Lewes continued to press, inevitably leaving spaces that Spurs, through the industrious Whinnett and powerful Baptiste, looked  to exploit, Dolbear forced into a superb low save from Baptiste. On 78 minutes Lewes lost Palmer to an impact injury, Fliss Love coming on. Scillaci sent a free kick fizzing in towards Hector only for Bridges to hook clear. On 85 minutes Schillaci delivered again, this time an inswinging corner. Martin timed her run to perfected, rising above Waine and Rutherford to head the ball over Dolbear and into the net. 2-0.

Bridge and Stenning replaced Lane and Carter, but with a two-goal cushion the home side shut up shop. FT 2-0.

After the match I spoke to both coaches. For Spurs, Juan Amoros was happy to keep an unbeaten run going.
‘It was a very good match. We expected Lewes to be strong, they played well. We were patient, we took our chances and we got the win.’
On the disallowed goal for Lewes: ‘I’m not really sure. It looked like a good finish but maybe the girl (Bridges) was too close to the keeper.’

For Lewes, John Donoghue rued missed opportunities.
‘Apart from the ‘goal’, we had four one-v-ones, two immediately before that. We could have scored three in five minutes. It says something  about this team that we come away disappointed’

Lewes were superb from front to back. Carter and Bridges didn’t stop running, Lane applied herself to her role, Heather showed excellent touch and control. Kelly Newton, plastered in mud, looked like she’d never been away. At the back, Waine showed why she is so important to this team, whilst West made almost as many tackles as her captain. My MvP was Lauren Dolbear. I can’t fault her on either goal – she made a brilliant save before the first, the second was perfection from Martin. Otherwise, she bossed her area, made good saves and showed good judgement.

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies
Toni Anne Wayne, Lucia Leon, Renee Hector, Jenna Schillaci ©, Ertha Pond, Josie Green, Sophie McClean, Rianna Soobadoo, Bianca Baptiste, Wendy Martin, Nikita Whinnett

Subs: Megan Lynch, Kelley Blanchflower, Leah Rawle, Maya Vio, Abbie Bensted

Lewes FC ladies
Lauren Dolbear, Hayley West, Rachel Palmer, Tammy Waine, Bex Thompson, Leeta Rutherford, Kelly Newton ©, Sian Heather, Rebecca Carter, Dani Lane, Georgia Bridges

Subs: Kim Stenning, Hayley Bridge, Fliss Love