Ellie Mason admitted she was “absolutely buzzing” to score on her debut for Lewes on Sunday, in which she returned from 11 months out with injury to help secure the Rooks a 2-0 win over Sunderland.
Mason joined Lewes in the summer but has had to wait for her shot at the first team during a long recovery from injury.
A Covid case within the camp meant she was handed a start against Sunderland as the Rooks played in front of a bumper 525 fans at the Dripping Pan.
And she scored midway through to first half to double Lewes’ lead – and was duly mobbed by her teammates.
“It’s been 11 months and nine days since my last league game, so it’s been a long journey. It’s great to be back!” said the full-back.
“It’s not a very common injury but I had an operation on it, have worked hard and come back fit and strong. So it’s all worked out in the end.”
Celebration with Noble
Mason started and ended the move for her goal, in which she broke through the midfield and was then at the right place on the edge of the penalty area to slam home.
And she went over to celebrate her strike with teammate Ellie Noble on the bench.
“It’s one of my strong points in the game. I love driving forward with the ball and to be able to finish it off at the end, it was a great feeling,” Mason added.
“With Ellie, we’re really close and good friends. We’ve been through injuries at the same time and have been even more close because of that. It was just a nice feeling and a reward for each other, as we’ve both been in that situation.
“We’ve both been on that journey so we had an agreement that if she scored I’d celebrate with her, and if I scored she’d come over to me.
“(Being injured for a long time) was difficult but it also makes you determined. It makes you want to get back in there and be ready even quicker, to be fighting for your place. It was a great feeling.”
Gill: ‘She’s instrumental’
Lewes interim manager Craig Gill was also delighted to see Mason get her first run-out in a red and black shirt.
“I was able to give the news to Ellie to prepare her for today, that she would be starting,” said the boss. “We moved Sophie O’Rourke across to right-back to balance it out defensively, and as soon as I told Ellie she was starting the response was fantastic.
“She was very pleased, as were we, of her performance today. I thought she was magnificent.”
On the goal and Mason’s role in sparking the initial attack, Gill added: “She does it day-in, day-out in training. She’s a full-back who likes to drive forward, is very good with both feet and possesses a great shot on her as well.
“I did say to her before Christmas when she was coming towards the end of her Return To Play Program that she would be an instrumental player for us. And so it proved!
“Long may it continue because this is only her first game. We’re hoping to see the same from her in future games.”