Cleverly: “We can now finish the season really strong” – Lewes Community Football Club

Cleverly: “We can now finish the season really strong”

Cleverly: “We can now finish the season really strong”

Women's football news

Written by: Joe

Lewes FC Women captain Rhian Cleverly says the players are beginning to produce what they know they’re capable of following Sunday’s dramatic 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

The result – spearheaded by two Maria Farrugia goals – lifts Lewes off the bottom of the table and within two points of 10th-placed Reading.

It was also a fourth game unbeaten in five since Christmas, yet the first win since November. That’s due to the Rooks conceding frustrating late goals to draw in recent weeks.

However, Cleverly reckons the squad is closer than ever and is now benefitting from the January signings bedding in fully.

“We can feel the change,” she said after playing 90 minutes in the heart of defence on Sunday.

“We see it every day in training. There are so many leaders in this team with so many different attributes. It’s all coming together. Of course when you have that many new additions to the squad it takes time and today we changed our shape slightly.

“Hollie (Olding), for example, played centre-back for a bit – she’s delivered another brilliant performance. You have to understand that it all takes time to gel and hopefully we can now finish the season really strong.”

First start since October
Cleverly earned her first start in five months at the Dripping Pan, and was instrumental in the victory. She was on call to block a thunderous Jessica Sigsworth shot in the first half and flung herself at everything in the second.

One of those blocks inadvertently resulted in a Sheffield United penalty after the referee adjudged Bex Rayner’s effort to have hit Cleverly’s arm.

Still, she battled on to help the Rooks to all three points.

“It’s a very special feeling (playing a full 90 minutes),” she said. “I was really nervous when I knew I was starting but I know I’ve been training well, so I just wanted to take that confidence into it. As soon as the first whistle goes you just forget about any worries.

“We had a good game plan and stuck to it. We’ve been so close in so many games recently and the players who have come in since Christmas have all had such a big impact.

“So I’ve been waiting for my time to come on and make a difference. I don’t think I had my best game but I’ll always bring that energy, that volume and I’m sure the fans could hear it! It all just clicked today.”

Do it for Maggie
Cleverly also explained how the news of our CEO Maggie Murphy’s departure at the end of the season gave her an extra boost heading into the match.

“Before the game today we talked about our ‘whys’. Why are we playing this game? What spirit do we need to summon that gives us that extra reason to hang in there if we’re leading? It’s to help us get over the line and get three points.

“We all said different things. My thing was “for Maggie Murphy and for me”. I wrote Maggie on my wrist today. We want to give Maggie the send-off she deserves. She’s such a legend for the club. We started that with a win today and of course we have a long way to go, but this is the first step.”

Stand-out performances
Cleverly also reserved praise for goalscorer Farrugia and youngster Reanna Blades, who played in a less familiar position on Sunday.

“Maria was brilliant. We have to control matters defensively but attacking-wise there’s not many better players in the league with her brains and quick feet,” said Cleverly.

“She showed her class today, making goals out of nothing. Even players coming on like Chelsea (Ferguson) brought that energy; Anna (Grey) taking the ball to the corner, which is something we weren’t doing a few weeks ago. The youngsters are starting to get that game intelligence and it’s all clicking.

“Reanna was incredible. She came on against Sunderland and scored that amazing goal. We were unlucky not to win that game but she rightly earned her place in the team. She took on a new role today and was so good.

“We’re trying to teach the younger ones about their defensive duties and she was such an important part of the game. You saw some massive tackles from Reanna today against opponents double her height. As a team we’ve spoken about celebrating the little things when we are under pressure in the last 10 minutes. So Reanna winning a slide tackle and then again, those moments give us a boost like a goal does. It all came together today.”

Next up is a trip to Blackburn on Monday 11 March for a 7pm kick off.

Our next home game is on Sunday 17 March at 2pm against Watford, in what is another huge match for the Rooks in our battle to fight the drop. You can buy Lewes FC tickets today and secure your place at the game, and perhaps bring your friends and family along and enjoy a VIP beach hut for the day!