A stoppage-time equaliser and Emily Moore’s goalkeeping heroics earned Lewes FC a penalty shootout win over Crystal Palace in the Conti Cup, reports Joe Short.
Kate Oakley came off the bench to score what looked like directly from a corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure a 1-1 draw after Elise Hughes had given Palace a first-half lead.
With the points shared, the game went to spot kicks to see who would claim a valuable bonus point in Group C.
Moore saved three of the four penalties she faced as the Rooks won the shootout 2-0 with goals from Grace Palmer and Hollie Olding.
The result means Lewes sit second in Group C after one round of games played, level on points with Watford, who beat London City Lionesses on penalties too.
Lewes came into the tie having narrowly lost at Reading on Sunday and started the brighter of the two teams. Grace Riglar saw an early chance saved by Palace goalkeeper Demi Lambourne, while only a deflection prevented Valentine Pursey from converting a flowing move instigated by Reanna Blades and Anna Grey.
Blades and Grey offered the best outlet for the Rooks, attacking on either flank and stretching play. Before the half was out Pursey had a volley sail wide, while at the other end Paige Bailey-Gayle, Annabel Blanchard and Molly Sharpe all fired efforts over Moore’s crossbar.
Moore was on hand, however, to tip over a stellar effort from Hughes that was destined for the roof of the net.
The second half was much more subdued as both sides dug into their positions but Grey had a sniff at goal when volleying a clearance from a corner, only for the ball to sail into the stands.
On the hour boss Scott Booth made two changes, bringing on captain Rhian Cleverly and Olding for Riglar and Pursey. Moments later after Moore did well to deny Sharpe the opener with a great low save, but she could do nothing about the Palace opener on 68 minutes.
Lewes protested the award of a corner after Moore appeared to leave a looping shot to clip the top of the crossbar and go out. However, the corner was given and from the resulting set piece Hughes stole a yard on her marker to head in at the near post.
It was a frustrating goal to concede in the circumstances but Lewes kept their cool. Sarah Brasero-Carreira was inches away from levelling the scores on 75 minutes when latching onto a Blades breakaway, only for a deflection to force a corner.
With three minutes of normal time remaining Lewes claimed a penalty during a scramble in the box but nothing was given. It appeared as though Palace would take the points heading into six minutes of stoppage time.
Indeed, Palmer’s misguided shot two minutes into the allotted six felt like the last of the chances the Rooks would get. But as the clock ticked down Lewes had one last corner to salvage a point. Moore went up and provided a distraction for the Eagles. She wasn’t needed however as Oakley’s corner looks to go directly in potentially with the help of a Palace player and send the majority of the 403 fans in attendance wild.
Moments later and referee Jade Wardle called time on the game. A shootout in front of the Rook Inn would determine who got the bonus point.
Palace went first and Moore did her duty. She dived low to deny Hayley Nolan, before Palmer calmly slotted home to put the hosts in front. Palace’s Shanade Hopcroft then fired over the bar and Olding stroked home for 2-0. Could Moore save another? She dived to her left and matched Kirsten Reilly’s effort to put Lewes within touching distance of the bonus point.
Caragh Hamilton, starting as captain for the evening, was denied the glory of converting the winning penalty. But perhaps it was fate that Moore would be the hero again, as she dived right to push away Bailey-Gayle’s effort and secure the shootout win for the Rooks.
Lewes FC: Emily Moore, Grace Riglar (Rhian Cleverly 60′), Grace Gerrard, Caragh Hamilton (c), Grace Palmer, Valentine Pursey (Hollie Olding 60′), Anna Grey (Kate Oakley 83′), Shauna Vassell, Reanna Blades, Kate Mooney, Sarah Brasero-Carreira (Amelia Hazard 83′).
Subs not used: Sophie Whitehouse