Lewes FC interim manager Craig Gill says the defeat at Bristol City last weekend had its positives despite the Rooks – lacking nine players due to Covid-19 – falling to a 5-0 defeat.
Lewes will seek to bounce back from the loss when they face Reading tonight in the Conti Cup.
The 7:30pm kick off at the Dripping Pan will be Lewes’ last home game of the year.
And while coronavirus is beginning to test teams across English football, Gill is expecting a response in front of a home crowd.
“Obviously we are extremely disappointed with the result but all of our thoughts at this time are with Kallie Balfour following her injury,” says Gill.
“We performed below the standards we set for ourselves and travelled with a very reduced squad due to player care and ensuring we did right by all concerned around Covid matters, denying us nine players.
“The whole squad applied themselves extremely well and worked relentlessly throughout which is highly commendable given the difficult circumstances surrounding the match.”
‘We strive to develop ourselves’
Lewes are seeking a first win in the Conti Cup this season and come up against a Reading side that beat Chelsea 1-0 last time out.
And Gill, who was able to bring a few youngsters into the team on Sunday, is hoping the team can come through with a performance on Wednesday.
“It was a useful exercise in that we were able to utilise other players who haven’t had as much game time recently,” says Gill.
“And we were able to give first-team debuts to Development Squad players Hannah Plumb and Ava Hutson.
“We strive to consistently learn and develop ourselves, and move positively together into this week with added determination to prepare for and play against Reading at home in Wednesday night’s Continental Cup match, before our last league match of the year away at Crystal Palace on Sunday.”
Hack: ‘Two more big games’
Sunday’s game also left a sour note as playmaker Kallie Balfour suffered an injury.
Ellie Hack said of the game: “Our performance wasn’t good enough and we know we have more quality to give.
“We were faced with everything against us, with injuries and Covid precautions.
“We’re gutted we’re out of the FA Cup but football is put into perspective when there’s an injury like that. Our focus turns to supporting Kallie as best as we can, then two more big games this week so we can finish the year on a positive.”
Focus on Reading
Reading sit eighth in the WSL yet their league position doesn’t tell the whole story.
Boss Kelly Chambers won the November Manager of the Month Award for stringing together three wins and a draw, which was then topped off by the victory over Chelsea last Saturday.
“I have a fantastic group, not just what they all bring as individuals, but as a collective also,” said Chambers after the win over the Blues.
“I think that’s what the start of the season was about, learning about each other, and I’ve got a bunch of winners which is something we may not have had in the past so it gives us an extra edge.
“Aside from what you see on the pitch, they all get on with one another, which brings out the best in all of them and you could see that today when celebrating a tackle, a block, covering your team-mate when they get beat, and then the final whistle.”
One to watch
Lewes will have to contend with Wales centre-back Gemma Evans in the Reading ranks. The 25-year-old won Sky’s Player of the Month award for November and Chambers has been singing her praises for some time.
“She’s defensively very strong and has been for years now, despite being so young,” Chambers said of Evans.
“She is someone I really want to develop and keep pushing her. We knew the type of performances she is capable of, but that today (vs Chelsea) was outstanding and full credit to herself she deserved that player of the match today.
“Having this run is definitely nice to have ahead of the Christmas break, I think we had a great November as it was an area we identified in pre-season as an important part of the season to pick up points.
“Going into this month, we knew it was going to be tough with both Chelsea and Man City, but throughout the week I’ve said to the squad we’ve got to believe that we can get the results, believe in our performances, and they showed that (vs Chelsea). You’ll reap your rewards from what you deliver out on the pitch, and they did that.”
Lewes vs Reading tickets
Lewes FC tickets for the game, which kicks off at 7:30pm on Wednesday, are available to buy online or on the gate.
Ticket prices on the gate are as follows:
Adults – £12 general admittance
Concessions – £8 general admittance
Kids (under 16) – free!
Beach hut for six people – £99