Lewes 2-3 Crystal Palace
Continental Tyres League Cup
Sunday 22 September
A wonder strike from Rea Laudat decided a close encounter between the two Championship teams in this pulsating Continental League Cup tie.
But for most Rooks fans, the main event was the retirement of club legend and captain Katie McIntyre.
Palace took the lead after ten minutes of play thanks to some tricky wing-play from Bianca Baptise as she got the better of Sophie O’Rourke, and her pinpoint cross was volleyed over Rooks keeper Issy Foster’s by Magda Mosengo for 1-0.
Lewes were creating their own chances and Emma Jones latched on to an Ellie Noble through ball, firing just wide of Gibbon’s far left post.
Less than a minute later, Jones beat Annabel Johnson at the Palace byline. Her cross in was only cleared to Zoe Ness who instinctively slammed home a shot too strong for Gibbon to make it 1-1 by the 12 minute mark.
Baptise and Mosengo both managed to beat Lewes’ defensive line on separate occasions in the 20th minute, but Foster reacted superbly to deny both chances and keep the game level with low saves off her line.
Foster’s luck ran out by the 23rd minute however, as a Palace break left Johnson with room to cross from the right. An unfortunate deflection rolled it into Sherelle Khassal’s late run from midfield and she rifled it in from 6 yards for Palace’s second of the afternoon.
After half an hour played, Ellie Noble slid another pinpoint ball past the Palace defence which Emily Donovan took in her stride. Her shot was saved by Gibbon before the linesman declared the play offside.
After 36 minutes, a robust tackle from Amy Taylor on Andria Georgiou saw the referee brandish the only yellow card of the afternoon.
The final chance of the half was Palace’s after an interception from Goddard started a move forward and ended with her curling shot tipped wide by a diving Foster.
Lewes started the second half brightly with a low shot from Ness that drifted wide of the Palace goal after a good cut-back by Jones. Shortly after, a clever free-kick from Noble almost beat Gibbon at her near post when a cross looked inevitable.
On the hour mark, Lewes had Palace scrambling in their own box but couldn’t tuck away any of their three chances. Great work from Jones and Donovan recycled the ball after a Ness shot was blocked and it fell to Dani Lane, whose own shot was saved and her follow up then cleared the crossbar. The pressure was too much for Palace however, as Amy Taylor danced past the offside trap and thundered a side-footed strike into the net that was too powerful for Gibbons.
It was 2-2 after 71 minutes and in Lewes’ efforts to spring an attack, a loose ball was latched upon by substitute Rea Laudat and, after carrying it a short distance and reshaping her body, it was a wonder-strike that beat Foster in her top corner.
Lewes chased the game from then on, determined to find a third equaliser, but their ambitions were scuppered by two serious injuries to Annie Timoney’s ankle from a challenge by Laudat and Caitlin Hayes sustaining a blow to the head whilst challenging from an attacking corner. Both players were carried off and taken to hospital – they were treated and released late in the evening. After ten minutes additional time, the referee blew the final whistle on a 3-2 win for Crystal Palace and on the career of the exemplary Katie McIntyre.
Immediately following the match, a presentation was made to an emotional Macca who was embraced by players and fans alike as she said a final farewell to her time on the pitch.
After the game, Fran Alonso said: ‘We weren’t good enough in the first half. Our shape wasn’t good and it was quite easy for them to play out. We were late to press and the intensity wasn’t there. We were better in the second half but a mistake led to a goal. A very frustrating day.’
On Katie McIntyre’s retirement: ‘It’s a sad day for her and for us. She’s a legend, a great player and a great girl. We’ll miss her a lot. Hopefully soon we’ll see her back in a different role.’
Substitute Katie Rood on the match said: ‘It was really disappointing. Not just the result but to have two major injuries. Hopefully they’ll be on the mend quickly. It’s hard to think about results when you’re concerned about your teammates but it’s about how we bounce back with some big games coming up.
‘We knew that it would be a challenge with both teams rotating players. It’s disappointing to not play to the extent we know we’re capable of, but that’s football sometimes.’
On Macca’s retirement: ‘She’s an absolute legend. The club wouldn’t be in this position without her and none of us would be able to play at this level without her dedication to the team over the last few years. A sad loss for the club but we can all appreciate what she’s done for Lewes FC.’
Lewes Starting XI: Foster, Timoney, Hayes, McIntyre, Jones (Rood 72’) Noble, O’Rourke (Powell 59’), Taylor, Rowbotham (Lane 45’), Donovan, Ness
Subs not used: Baker, Cleverly, Savva, King,
Goals: Ness, 12; Taylor, 68
Yellow cards: Taylor, 38
Crystal Palace Starting XI: Gibbon, Johnson, Pepper, Goddard, Mackenzie, Hurley, Georgiou, Goddard, Baptiste (Lewes 61’), Khassal (Sherwood 86), Mosengo (Rutherford 78’)
Goals: Mosengo, 8; Khassal, 23; Laudat 71
Subs not used: Gillet, Butler, Sherwood, Holdaway, Stevens
Match Report: Caspar Jayasekera