Arsenal 2-0 Lewes
Women’s FA Cup 5th Round
Sunday 23 February
A superb defensive performance was not quite enough to see off fourteen-time FA Cup winners Arsenal at a lively Boreham Wood.
Serenaded throughout by a strong away support, Lewes held their illustrious hosts at bay for much of the game. In the centre of defence skipper Rhian Cleverly and Caitlin Hayes marshalled their troops. Out wide Sophie O’Rourke and Sammy Quayle held off wave after wave as Arsenal attacked the flanks through Danielle Van de Donk and Ruby Grant.
Gunners’ captain for the day Jordan Nobbs pulled the strings, releasing Caitlin Foord, Leonie Maier and Ruby Grant in turn with some precise passing. Melissa Fils’s rasping drive from wide on the left drew gasps from a healthy home crowd, the ball pinging off the outide of Sophie Harris’s upright.
Every player in blue played their part in a first half that clearly frustrated the Super League side. And Lewes had arguably the best chance of the half, Emma Jones breaking brilliantly to drive at the Arsenal back line. Katie Rood offered an inside option as Jones drove left, only to be caught and tackled by Jennifer Beattie.
After the break Lewes were treated to the sight of Viviane Miedema warming up alongside Lisa Evans and Leah Williamson. With reinforcements imminent, the home side redoubled their efforts and in the 54th minute took the lead.
Jill Roord turned and ran towards the D playing in a fine pass for Van de Donk. Harris bravely blocked her shot as Caitlin Foord slid in to bury the finish. 1-0
On the hour Louise Quinn rose highest to meet a corner at the back post. Her header beat Harris but not Cleverly who met it squarely on the line with a firm header of her own. Her fellow centre back Hayes made an even more dramatic intervention, diving full-length to deflect a swerving shot from the edge of the box with her face.
Arsenal made their subs, Miedema and Evans replacing Melissa Filis and the excellent Grant on 72 minutes, Williamson on for Viktoria Schnaderbeck ten minutes later. At 1-0 Lewes stood a chance and Simon Parker made two attacking changes, Dani Lane replacing Emma Jones, Jess King on for Chloe Winchester.
King was straight into the action, a deft flick turning her marker, but as many of her teammates found, when she looked up there were two more Arsenal shirts waiting to dispossess her.
Inside the last ten minutes Arsenal made the game safe. Miedema lurked and nipped in to win the ball as Lewes tried to play out. With Harris stranded the ball was squared to Van de Donk who stroked home from four yards. 2-0.
Lewes weren’t quite done. Emily Donovan replaced Ellie Leek as Lewes pushed up and forced a corner. Ellie Noble found Hayes for the knock-down and King turned and fell back, hooking her volley just wide. Seconds later a speculative shot from Savva rose high above the still-singing Lewes fans and with it went the visitor’s last chance to register. FT 2-0
After the game Lewes boss Simon Parker was rightly proud of his side’s performance.
‘We worked hard on defensive shape in the week. We knew Arsenal would have most of the ball. We executed our plans and tackled well. Not as aggressively as I’d have liked at times, but we kept them out.’
On the Emma Jones break: ‘Emma created that chance by driving at them. She had a long way to go and she kept going. I’d like to have seen either a pass (to Roodie) or a shot at the end of it, but it was a good run.’
Arsenal host Spurs in the quarter final next Sunday. Lewes return to FA Women’s Championship league action at home on Sunday 15th March when we host Charlton Athletic, though this fixture may be subject to change as the FA look to re-organise a swathe of postponed matches – stay tuned to Twitter @LewesFCWomen
The full match is still available right here on BBC iPlayer
Sophie Harris, Sammy Quayle, Rhian Cleverly (C), Caitlin Hayes, Emma Jones, Ellie Noble, Ellie Leek, Chloe Winchester, Sophie O’Rourke, Filippa Savva, Katie Rood
Faye Baker, Jess King, Ella Powell, Charley Boswell, Emily Donovan, Danielle Lane