Paula Howells’ second-half stunner fired Lewes to a first Women’s Championship win of the season and up to eighth in the table with a 2-1 victory over Charlton on Sunday.
Howells lashed home a shot in off the crossbar to restore the Rooks’ lead 53 minutes into a pulsating contest at the Dripping Pan.
Ellie Hack had given Lewes the lead just five minutes in with a towering header from a corner, before Kiera Skeels levelled for the visitors.
Lewes held on for three points thanks to some dogged defending and a player of the match performance from Sophie Whitehouse, who ensured the three points stayed at the Pan.
Rooks take early lead
Lewes boss Scott Booth had said coming into the game that a little touch of class would be enough to steer the Rooks to winning ways. Having seen a four-game drawing streak in the league ended last Sunday with a last-minute loss at Durham, the impetus was on Booth and the squad to find a way to bounce back.
The Rooks started brightly and forced the opener after just eight minutes. It came from a corner in front of the Rook Inn, after good pressure from Howells had forced Elisha N’Dow into a stray backpass. Hack met Grace Palmer’s in-swinger, heading back across goal from deep and into the net.
It was the ideal start for Lewes but Charlton hit back fast, with Skeels getting under a corner to scramble home the leveller.
What then ensued was a somewhat scrappy first half, with Amber-Keegan Stobbs going wide and Hazard forcing a good save out of Sian Rogers. At the other end, former Rook Freda Ayisi forced a spectacular save out of Whitehouse, who also denied Skeels again.
Howells works her magic
Lewes came out for the second half with renewed vigour and it needed just eight minutes for Howells to work her magic. The winger found herself with space to shoot on the edge of the area and angled her effort between crossbar and goalkeeper for 2-1.
It was a magnificent goal from a player who “only does worldies” and marked a change in the flow of the game. Lewes soaked up increasing Charlton pressure and were it not for a remarkable Nat Johnson clearance the scores could have been level again on the hour mark.
Whitehouse was also on hand to keep goal from a scrambled corner, while Charlton’s Beth Roe fired an effort over the crossbar.
Moments after Rogers saved a dangerous Palmer free kick, Booth made his changes. Off came Stobbs and Johnson for Emma Thompson and Libby Copus-Brown, and the fresh legs helped grind Charlton down. Charlyann Pizzarello came on in stoppage time to further aid the cause, and Lewes saw out the win without too much late drama.
Next up for Lewes is a trip to Coventry United on Sunday 30 October at 2pm, before the Rooks host Bristol City a week later – the day after Bonfire! – at 3pm. Beach huts and match tickets are still available for the Bristol game.
Rhian Cleverly (c)
Ellie Hack (goal 5′)
Paula Howells (goal 53′)
Emma Thompson (86′ for Stobbs)
Copus-Brown (87′ for Johnson)
Charlyann Pizzarello (90+2′ for Howells)