Lewes 0 Oxford United 1
Sunday 4 August
Fran Alonso’s squad took another important step towards the new season in this lively encounter with Oxford, writes Ash Head.
With both camps looking at options and potential signings the match was peppered with substitutions. Lewes started brightly, moving the ball well, inviting United to come and get it. The FAWNL side chased and harried, closing space quickly.
Katie Rood, now signed at Lewes, showed her class with a series of searing breaks on either flank, linking well with Sammy Quayle and Charlie Boswell. Rood it was who had the first shot in anger, closely followed by two more, each parried by United’s impressive ‘keeper, Amber Roberts.
Jess King, back after an impressive second half of last season, joined the party with a solid strike. Sophie O’Rourke, overlapping from deep, cut inside to meet Boswell’s superb cross. Her cushioned volley beat the ‘keeper but not the defender, who headed off the line.
New signing Rhian Cleverley showed her class under the high ball and it was the Welsh centre-back who launched Lewes’s best move of the half. Her pinpoint pass released Quayle. Sammy sped away, finding Rood in her right. O’Rourke met the pass and cut inside to force yet another fine two-handed save from Roberts.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic. United, having weathered quite a storm, created two excellent chances of their own, a fine strike from outside the area that thumped into Baker’s bar and, with almost the last kick of the half, the only goal of the match.
For once Lewes were hesitant in clearing their lines. The Oxford forwards stole the ball and passed wide left where Daisy McLaughlin appeared, unmarked. McLaughlin set herself before curling a sublime first-time right-foot strike an inch outside Baker’s outstretched left hand, drawing warm applause from the gallery as the ball nestled in the right corner.
The second half, with a series of rolling substitutions for both sides, lacked the cohesion of the first forty-five and the game ended 0-1. Full credit to Oxford who played with great intensity and showed courage under fire in a difficult first half.
In the second half Caitlin Hayes made her first appearance for the Rooks and looked strong in the air, reading the play and showing a range of passing to match any of her team-mates (including Faye Baker, one of the best you’ll see between this sticks). A fine addition to a squad still getting to know one another in the heat of battle.
Sophie O’Rourke, who had shownca fine turn of pace and plenty of passion in what at times was a robust encounter, spoke after the match:
“It was good to get a match under my belt today. I’ve missed a few games with a niggle but feel back to my best. It was a proper match out there, plenty of physicality, which is what you want in pre-season. They were a good side and gave us a really good test.”
Fran Alonso reflected on the pre-season so far, hinting that he still has some fine tuning before naming his Championship squad.
“The preseason has gone well overall. We won two and lost two, conceding three goals. In terms of pass completion, chances created and possession I’m very pleased. I’m not quite finished with my plans. This week could be an exciting week for the Lewes fans. We have a lot of new players, some just joining the team. For sure we will be at our best in our season opener at the Pan on 18th of August.”
Lewes host newly promoted Blackburn Rovers on Sunday 18th August
Kick off 2pm, tickets on pre-sale on line here.