Kempson Double Sinks Addicks
As Cup Run Continues
Lewes reached their second national semi-final in two
seasons on Sunday with a gutsy away win at league-leaders Charlton, writes Ash
After a tense first half that saw Kit Graham level the
scores after Sarah Kempson’s stunning strike had given the visitors the lead,
Lewes controlled the second half before sealing the win in extra time.
Despite both sides facing FA Cup 5th round ties,
managers Riteesh Mishra and John Donoghue selected strong line-ups for this FA
WPL Cup quarter final. Charlton gave a home debut to recent signing Olivia
Lukasewich, with attacking trio Gurr, Lee and Graham starting. Lewes had Amy
Taylor leading the line with Dani Lane and Avilla Bergin in front of a powerful
midfield of Kate McIntyre, Sarah Kempson and Leeta Ruthertford.
Lewes it was who had the first clear chance, centre back
Kylie McCarthy heading over after a McIntyre corner was flicked on by
Rutherford. McIntyre, confirmed last week as captain after Kelly Newton’s
retirement, drove her side on with Newton, still visibly kicking every ball,
Charlton pressed, looking to feed Gurr, but the prolific
midfielder was superbly marshalled all afternoon by McCarthy, Bex Thompson and
Claire Johnson. Kim Dixson let fly from long range, her shot flying high and
With both sides quick in the tackle it was going to take
something special to break the deadlock and that duly arrived in the 21st
minute. Kempson, combative, incisive, created a yard of space to the left of
the D. Her lightning strike curled at, then away from, Katie Startup, flying
into the bottom corner. 0-1.
The game became fractured by a series of fouls and offside
decisions as both sides struggled to get on top. Mid-way through the half
Charlton enjoyed their best spell of the match, Charley Clifford’s fierce
strike fizzing over Faye Baker’s crossbar. Moments later Baker needed both
hands and a full-length dive to deflect Graham’s snap-shot. From the corner the
home side levelled the match. Nicole Pepper delivered, Lewes failed to clear
their lines and there was Graham to hammer home from ten yards. 1-1 (39).
Two minutes later Lewes saw two chances to regain the lead.
Amy Taylor raced onto a smart through-ball before firing wide of the far post.
Kempson then struck from the edge of the box, this time her shot deflected off a
defender, forcing Startup into a superb reaction save, pushing the ball onto
the junction of post and bar. HT 1-1.
The second half offered no respite, with both sides fully
committed and seeking the win. Tash Wells saw plenty of action as the young
Canadian Lukesewich came into the game on the Charlton right. Wells was equal
to the task, supported by McCarthy and Johnson as Charlton looked to use width
to get in behind. With both sides looking to play a quick passing game, fouls
were inevitable and again play was broken up by a series of infringements.
Taylor found space on the right, moved outside her full-back
before driving a fierce, dipping shot from a tight angle. Startup adjusted
well, tipping the ball over one-handed. Kempson closed down sharply in midfield
to send Dani Lane through, Lukasewich heading bravely back to Startup to deny
Lane a shooting chance.
On a heavy pitch and with the prospect of extra time, both
managers would need to use their subs wisely. Donoghue moved first, bringing
Rebecca Carter on for Taylor on 66 minutes.
Gurr saw her flick-on from a Grace Coombes free-kick well
saved by Baker, who watched a long-range
effort from Lukasewich fly high over her bar. With 20 minutes to go of the 90,
Gurr, unable to break free of McCarthy and Thompson, was replaced by Griffin.
Lewes countered with Vicky Carleton on for Lane, Carleton switching flanks with
Bergin. The change worked, Bergin immediately seeing more of the ball, testing
Startup with a high, curling cross that the wind did its best to sweep away
from the ‘keeper.
Lewes started to gain the upper hand. Carter and Kempson
linked well to win a corner that Charlton scrambled away, Carleton firing her
first-time shot wide. McIntyre was up-ended in the D, Bergin struck her
free-kick well but the ball flew over as it arced towards goal. Bergin then
took on several defenders and found Carleton before being bundled off the
Charlton tried to break out but McIntyre and Wells put in a
series of crunching tackles, Rutherford and Kempson re-launching the Lewes
offensive. Charlton brought Kerry
Walklett on for Charlotte Lee, and despite all their pressure, Lewes failed to
convert. FT 1-1.
Two minutes into the extra period Charlton had a gilt-edged
chance to take the lead. Graham, always a threat, skipped past two challenges.
One-on-one with Baker, the striker went for the chip, only for Baker to stand
tall and pluck the ball out of the air. It was a let-off, and Lewes took full
Bergin started to create more space on her flank, shooting
twice from the edge of the area, each time comfortably over. Though neither
side created another clear chance before the mini-break, it was Lewes who
appeared to have the edge. Charlton, taken to 120 minutes the previous Sunday
in a tough FA Cup battle with Blackburn Rovers, dropped deep. Sensing a chance
to exploit tired legs, Donoghue brought Georgia Bridges on for Bergin in the
second half of extra time.
Two minutes later, Lewes, and Kempson, struck. It was déjà
vu for Startup as Kempson, wriggling free from her marker, hit a fierce shot
from left of the D. This time the Charlton ‘keeper was across in time but the
ball pitched a yard in front, spinning up and over her into the net. FT ET 1-2.
This was a classic cup-tie, full of commitment, drama and
skill on both sides. Lewes deserved their win, much the better side after half
time and throughout extra time. Kempson’s strikes will get the headlines and
deservedly won her the MvP, but this was very much a team performance, led by
the immense Kate McIntyre.
Lewes have now reached the semi-final of the FAWPL Cup, the
final of the Sussex FA Challenge Cup and will host Everton Ladies in the 5th
round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup this Sunday. They sit 4th in the FA
Women’s Premier League South, with all to play for. The hard work continues.
Lewes manager John Donoghue was full of praise for his players.
‘We worked hard on this match in training, we wanted to
focus on Charlton and give this competition the respect it deserves. It would
have been easy to be distracted by a big FA Cup tie (against WSL1 side Everton)
next week, so I’m pleased that we got our heads right for this one.
Charlton are an excellent side, they put out a strong team today. We knew we
would have to be at our best to beat them and that’s what we’ve done. It’s another
semi-final which is reward for the players, who have worked incredibly hard to
Former Skipper Kelly Newton:
‘It was tough for me to watch from the side-lines but I’m
proud to see the team claim a hard
fought victory that was completely deserved.’
Chairman Stuart Fuller, in attendance at SC Thamesmead,via Twitter:
performance from @LewesFCWomen this afternoon. Controlled the game brilliantly and two
excellent goals. Bring on @EvertonLadies next Sunday!’
MvP: Sarah Kempson, though in truth it could have gone to
any one of several Lewes players. This was a team performance.
Baker, Johnson, Thompson-Agbro, McIntyre, Wells, Kempson, McCarthy, Rutherford,
Lane, Bergin, Taylor
James, Owen, Carleton, Bridges, Carter