Lewes were far from their best but still too
good for a tough Gillingham side at the Dripping Pan on Sunday.
The home side, close to full strength, took
an early grip on the match, with Danielle Lane and Sarah Kempson pulling the
strings. Avilla Bergin, Rebecca Carter and Georgia Bridges buzzed around the
Gillingham back line, showing pace and movement to pull the visitors out of
Kempson came close to opening the scoring
on two minutes after McIntyre was crudely felled just outside the D, her left
foot strike fizzing a foot over the crossbar. Lane, driving at defenders, set
Carter and Bridges free with a series of sharp passes and deft lay-offs.
Gillingham defended firmly, getting bodies in to block the final ball to yield a
series of corners that Shanly and her
back line did well to repel, the keeper showing courage to deny Carter, saving
at the striker’s feet after a fine pass from Charlotte Owen.
The away bench seemed unhappy with
everything from the start, drawing an early reminder from the crowd as to the
family-friendly nature of the supporters behind them.
It was the home side who had more reason to
feel aggrieved. They had what appeared to most in the ground a case for as
clear-cut a penalty as you might wish to see in the twenty-second minute.
Kempson swung a corner in from the right. The ball fell for Rutherford who
shaped to shoot, only to be shoved off the ball two-handed by a Gills defender.
Gills manager Jack Wheeler turned away in disgust as the crowd howled as one.
The officials appeared to miss the incident and another corner was awarded.
On 31 minutes yet another Lewes corner bore
fruit. McIntyre delivered a pin-point in-swinger, met on the full by Lane who
buried her header from twelve yards. 1-0.
Lewes piled on the pressure but Gillingham,
led by Shanly, making a fine low stop from a cleverly disguised Kempson strike,
and the excellent Symonds, stood firm. Kempson fired in an inviting cross from
the right edge of the area as Owen raced in to dive full-length, making the
slightest of contacts to send the ball past Shanly and agonisingly wide of the
The half ended with an unfortunate injury.
Rutherford and McIntyre came together to close down Farrano. Rutherford’s knee
glanced off her skipper’s hip, spinning her round and leaving her laid out,
face down on the turf. A stretcher was called as a precaution as Amy Taylor
took her place. HT 1-0
The second half saw Lewes attacking in
waves, Bergin trading flanks with Lane, Kempson and Owen again influential in centre
midfield. Gibson replaced Thurston for the visitors as Vicky Carelton came on
for Bridges. Gillingham, seeing more of the ball, created a couple of half-chances,
Farrano and Seely asking the questions, all answered emphatically by Wells,
Thompson and Taylor, leaving Lewes ‘keeper Faye Baker to play as sweeper.
Dani lane, having one of her best matches
this season, made a tackle that the stricken Rutherford would have been proud
of, chasing back into midfield to deny Giordani, who soon made way for Nugent.
The game threatened to descend into farce
as Lewes won another in a series of free kicks in the Gillingham half. Seely
ran towards her bench, clutching what appeared to be a cut finger. She pulled
up five yards short and sat down, where she was attended by the Gills physio.
As boos rang out the away bench once again
engaged the crowd, not all of it good-natured, baiting the home supporters as
they voiced their displeasure at what appeared to be a blatant attempt to
disrupt the game. Eventually the match re-started, Kempson sending another
rocket just over the bar.
Lane showed great skill to take a stinging Amy
Taylor pass to set up Carter, but once again the final ball ran astray. With
five minutes to go yet another McIntyre corner found a Lewes head, the ball
bouncing down before deflecting up and over the bar by inches.
Moments later Lewes claimed the second
their dominance deserved. Carter, still full of running, out-stripped Gibson on
the right and turned inside. With her forwards arriving she pulled a clever
pass back where Lane out-muscled Symonds to slide home left-footed with Shanly
stranded. 2-0 (87).
There was still time for more drama.
Following a coming together outside the Lewes area, the subbed Giordani returned
to the field as players squared up. She ran back to her bench before being rapidly
redirected to the changing rooms. The officials, aided by the vociferous
gallery, spotted the infringement and another Gillingham sub was despatched to
bring her back, where she was promptly booked. FT 2-0.
Lewes manager John Donoghue was pleased
with the result and another clean sheet, but accepted the overall performance
was below par.
‘We did enough to win the game but we were
far from our best. We stopped them playing and got ourselves into good areas
but we lacked the sharpness in front of goal you’d like to see.’
Lewes remain fourth in the FAWPL South and
face a series of away fixtures, starting with a visit to Queens Park Rangers
next Sunday, 15th April.
MvP: Tash Wells
Lewes: Baker, Thompson-Agbro, Rutherford, Wells,
McIntyre (C), Kempson, Owen, Bergin, Lane Bridges Carter. Subs: Carleton, Love,
Taylor, Franchi, Newton
Gillingham: Shanly, Thurston, Symonds, Waud, Klatt,
Flack, Seely, Giordani, Clark, Farrano, Keogh (C)
Subs: Williams, Nugent, Gibson, Crincan