The Rookettes headed to South London on wet and windy Wednesday
night to take on 3rd place Crystal Palace Ladies in the FAW Premier
League South game, reports Stuart Fuller.
John Donoghue made a couple of changes from the side that
drew against Chichester City Ladies on Sunday, hoping to contain the threat of Gemma Bryan.
Palace should have taken the lead in the 4th
minute when a miscommunication in the Rookettes defence saw the danger women
Gemma Bryan pounce but her shot was saved by Baker with her legs. Five minutes later it was Sherwood who found
herself in acres of space from a cross from the right but her shot on the run
was poor and it dribbled wide.
Palace were enjoying success down Lewes’s right-hand side
and with just 13 minutes on the clock took the lead after Gemma Bryan outpaced
Thompson in that area of the pitch, cut inside and smashed the ball home from
ten yards despite Baker’s brave dive at her near post.
The hosts looked far more comfortable on the slick surface,
playing the ball to feet on the edge of the box and Whinnett was almost in for
a second on 20 minutes but once again Baker was alive to the danger and saved
with her legs.
Whilst the Palace passing play caused a few issues to the
Rookettes, they enjoyed a good period of pressure with Carter and Bergen
looking busy and causing some issues for the Palace centre-backs. Carter was played through on the half-hour
mark but a flag from the assistant referee halted the action.
In the final minute of the half, Bryan once again was the
thorn in the side of the Rookettes defence as she ghosted past Thompson but her
shot from distance was deflected wide.
Half-time and a time for Lewes to regroup and formulate a new plan.
Manager John Donoghue made a tactical switch at half-time
with Sarah Kempson coming on for Becks Thompson, Leeta Rutherford slipping back
into the defence. However, it was the
same-old story just a few minutes later as Bryan slipped in behind James and
only a great recovery tackle to put the Palace striker off saved the day. Two minutes later it was that girl Bryan
again in the thick of the action, taking the
On 50 minutes Baker rushed out of her box to clear a Palace
attack but in the process took out the player and there were big shouts for a
red but the referee kept her cards in her pocket. The resulting free-kick on the edge of the
box hit the wall and Lewes cleared the danger.
Despite a brief Rookettes revival, Palace extended their
lead in the 58th minute when Bryan reacted quickest to a throw-in
and slotted home from ten yards, underlining once again how dangerous she is
with the ball at her feet in the area.
Manager Donoghue made his second change on the hour, bringing on Amy
Taylor for Rebecca Carter then Vicky Carleton replacing Rachel Palmer for the
final twenty minutes.
Any hope the Rookettes had for a come-back was extinguished
in the 77th minute when Bryan ran past her marker into the box and
crossed low for Bailes to smash home, via the cross-bar from close range.
With five minutes remaining Amy Taylor’s strike got the away fans excited but it flew the wrong side of the post. Two minutes later Carleton’s strong run down the right saw her play a superb ball into the box but Taylor’s desperate dive to get a toe on it failed by inches. Unfortunately it was the last chance the Rookettes had and the unbeaten run which stretched back to the opening day of the season was over.
Photos from the game from James Boyes can be found here.
Lynch, McRoberts, Foreman, Bailes (Stenning- 80 mins), Paye, Holdaway,
Sherwood, Bryan, Haydock (Davenport – 63 mins), Whinnett (Samuels – 85mins),
Subs not used: Collins, Ferguson
James, Thompson (Kempson – 46mins), McIntyre, Palmer (Carleton – 70 mins),
Newton, Bergin, Rutherford, Carter (Taylor – 60 mins), Johnson, Lane
Subs not used: Owen, Dolbear