Lewes FC interim boss Craig Gill says his team can “match anyone” in the FA Women’s Championship and head into Sunday’s clash with Bristol City seeking a return to winning ways.
The Rooks were downed 1-0 at Blackburn last weekend and play at the Dripping Pan on Sunday for the first time since mid January.
City have beaten Lewes in the league, Women’s FA Cup and the Conti Cup this season – although all three games have been played in Bristol.
And Gill is expecting an improved performance from last weekend’s trip up to Lancashire.
“Bristol City will no doubt give us another tough test as we have seen from our three previous encounters with the them already this season,” says Gill.
“They are currently in second place in the league behind Liverpool and are there on merit.
“Manager Lauren Smith will have them well organised defensively and they pose a real threat with the ball with their mobility.
“They like to run with the ball and commit defenders, and they get plenty of crosses into the box from several areas.
“We’re very much looking forward to Sunday and to performing to our best as we have done in certain games this season. If we can reach those high standards then we can be more than a match for anyone in this league.”
Composure the key
Lewes lost last Sunday’s rescheduled clash with Blackburn thanks to a Kayleigh McDonald goal early in the second half. And despite making five changes during the game, Gill’s troops just couldn’t find an equaliser.
The result keeps Lewes in seventh place in the FA Women’s Championship – and a victory on Sunday could lift the team into sixth.
And Gill says his players have learned from the shortcomings in Lancashire.
“Following the disappointment of the result against Blackburn Rovers last Sunday, we have reviewed the match as a group in great detail in order to ascertain specific areas to address for the forthcoming game against Bristol City this weekend,” he says.
“Against Blackburn, we needed to be more composed in the final third and not snatch at crosses and chances.
“This is unlike us and I’m sure we’ll be back to our best on Sunday given the quality we’ve got in the squad, especially in wide areas.”
Focus on Bristol City
City themselves are on a three-game winning streak that has seen the team rise to second in the table.
They leapfrogged London City Lionesses last weekend with a gritty 3-2 victory at Princes Park, with goals from Abi Harrison, Aggie Beever-Jones and Aimee Palmer.
That came after heavy wins over Crystal Palace and Durham.
Harrison has already scored four against the Rooks this season, while Beever-Jones has twice breached our defence.
And Palmer reckons City are on a roll.
“The international break always seems to come at a bad time for us when we’re on a roll, so I think it was really important to get that win today,” she told City’s website after the Lionesses victory. “We have got a lot of important games coming up so it’s important to keep the momentum and keep going.”
Indeed, scoring 10 goals in three games has formed the backbone of City’s recent successes. And their manager Smith isn’t likely to let up the pressure on her players just yet.
“That’s what we’ve got now. We’re going into games confident and are scoring goals,” she told City’s official website.
“While against the Lionesses we didn’t get that clean sheet, what we’ve done is be really ruthless in this final third. And that’s what we need to keep on this streak.
“(Being second) feels very good. We’ve got some tough games coming up but I think it’s a credit to the players and what they do every week that we now have that second place, and we now need to stay there.”
Sunday’s clash marks the second of a Dripping Pan double header over the weekend, with the men’s team playing Worthing on Saturday.
And Gill says the Rooks fans can play their part over both ties this weekend.
“We hope that our supporters will come in their numbers again,” he says. “The great atmosphere that they and the band generate definitely gives the players a huge lift!”
Lewes FC vs Bristol City tickets
Lewes FC tickets for the game, which kicks off at 2pm on Sunday, are available to buy now online (at a discount).
Ticket prices on the gate are as follows:
Adults – £12 general admittance
Concessions – £8 general admittance online
Kids (under 16) – free!
Beach hut for six people – £99 SOLD OUT