Dani Lane’s dazzling run and whipped cross in the 88th
minute, finished from close range by Rebecca Carter, lit up a match that had
spluttered as two well-match sides cancelled each other out.
Bex Thompson, on as late substitute for Rachel Palmer,
carried the ball out of defence. As most in the ground, including her
opponents, expected her to play it forward she kept coming, running past a
number of Portsmouth midfielders before spotting Lane on the overlap. Her pass
was inch perfect, releasing Lane who accelerated past three defenders before
whipping in a low cross from the line.
‘I thought I’d over run it’ she told me after the match. ‘I
just got my head down and went for it.’ Carter and Avilla Bergin raced into the
box, converging with Nadine Bazan and Pompey ‘keeper Michelle Beazley. Carter,
in collision with Beazley, got the vital touch to plant the ball in the back of
the net and secure all three points for her side.
‘I definitely got something on it’ said Carter. ‘It was a
bit of a blur with us all coming together at the same time.’
Much of the match had been played in the middle third of an
excellent playing surface, the two sets of midfielders often cancelling each
other out. Sarah Kempson, making her Dripping Pan debut, had left Pompey for
WSL side Millwall before joining Lewes in the summer. Charley Boswell, having
moved west down the A27 from Brighton only last week, faced former Shegulls Amy
Taylor and Leah Samain. Beazley, between the stick for the visitors, remains a
fan’s favourite after her years of service with the Rookettes.
Taylor started brightly, raiding down the Lewes right to
link with Carter and Lane. Eilidh Currie worked her socks off to manage Taylor,
who in hooked an early cross, well taken by Beazley, who also took the ball off
Taylor’s head as she rose to meet a smart cross from Bergin.
Nine minutes in Boswell was adjudged to have handled just
inside the area, Mr Rowe taking a moment before pointing to the spot. Kempson
stepped up and sent Beazley the wrong way, but in shaping to deceive she hit
the ball into the turf and it squirmed well wide of the right post.
Repreived, Portsmouth tried to get their passing game going.
Once again, Katie McIntyre, wearing the armband, with club captain Kelly Newton
on the bench, stepped in. Moving smoothly, she timed her challenges to
perfection, releasing Lane and Carter on the counter. For Portsmouth, Boswell
and Amelia Southgate proved equal to the home threat with Currie and Katie
James snapping into tackles and winning the ball back for their side.
With both sides struggling to find their passing game chances
were restricted to long range efforts and set-pieces. Taylor did fashion a
chance for herself on twelve minutes, closing Beazley down to force the ball
wide. As the ‘keeper rushed out to recover, her snapshot nestled in the side
Tammy Waine was giving a master-class in reading the game,
stepping up to steal the ball as Portsmouth threatened through Natasha Stephens
and Katie James, the latter unable to get over the ball sufficiently to keep
her shot down. Samain, like Beazley largely untroubled, gave an assured
performance, calling well and claiming the ball when needed.
Taylor and Lane started to link well. Kempson won a corner,
curled in by McIntyre. The ball rebounded of the left-hand junction of post and
bar, McIntyre collected the rebound, an offence, spotted by Mr Rowe, as no
other player had touched the ball.
On 26 minutes Taylor out-stripped Southgate to race in on
goal. Spotting Beazley off her line she sent a dipping shot in from twenty
yards, the ball fizzing over the bar by inches. At the other end, Hillier tried
a similar shot with more power and direction, Samain electing to punch the ball
over the bar. HT 0-0.
The second period saw more of the same, with the sides
trading occasional blows. Portsmouth gained a marginal advantage early on,
Quayle denied by Waine before she picked Kempson’s pocket, her goal-bound run
denied by a terrific tackle by Lane.
Lane and Sievwright saw long-range efforts fly high into the
stands before Portsmouth boss Jay Saddler brought on Rachel Panting for James.
Just after the hour Kempson’s corner was met by Darcey James, her downwards
header bouncing up into Beazley’s arms.
More changes as Rebecca Barron made way for Molly Clark and
Claire Johnson replaced Amy Taylor after another strong performance from the
Lewes 9. The crowd purred as Waine treated us to a Tammy Turn, leaving her
opponent clearly frustrated, left for dead. McIntyre, tireless, ever aware,
sent in a peach of a cross that Bergin met, her header flying over.
Panting linked well with Stephens but still that final ball
was missing and Lewes remained untroubled. With two minutes of the 90 left,
Thompson, on for Rachel Palmer, strode forward to set Lane off on that match-winning
Lewes boss John Donoghue was pleased with the result and the
clean sheet. ‘I don’t think either side was at their very best today.
Portsmouth are clearly a very good side, so we ‘re happy with the win. We need
to recover well and prepare for Palace on Wednesday.