BHAFC Women Development Squad 1
Lewes FC Women 4
Sussex County FA Challenge Cup semi-final
The Rookery 3G, Lewes
Lewes FC Women advanced the Sussex County FA Challenge Cup final after an entertaining match ‘away’ to a Brighton Development Squad side.
Charlotte Owen, returning from injury to face her former club, scored the only goal of a first half that saw Lewes dominate possession. Leeta Rutherford and Katie McIntyre’s composed build-up play helped the away side establish a firm grip on the game from the start. Brighton had in-form ‘keeper Laura Hartley to thank for a number of sharp saves, alongside some strong and committed defensive work.
In front of a good-sized crowd, with Brighton first team coach Hope Powell watching on, Albion showed good discipline to keep the FAWPL side out for much of the first 45 minutes, Owen’s precise finish breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute.
Lewes, through lively strike partners Rebecca Carter and Georgia Bridges, created a host of chances. Avilla Bergin fired past the post from the left. Bridges raced past her full-back to send in a fine cross from the right, Danni Lane’s bullet header whistling inches wide. Hartley saved well from Carter and Bergin and took a long-range Owen effort comfortably. HT 0-1.
With rolling subs an option, Lewes used their bench to good effect. Amy Taylor, another returning from injury, and Tash Wells replaced Bridges and Bex Thompson after the break.
Skipper Katie McIntyre fired just over, her fine strike fizzing past Hartley from 20 yards. Brighton countered and Jacqui Ann Goldsmid needed to be on her toes to save well, low to her left. Taylor, offering the Brighton defenders a different challenge, lurked on the edge of the box, chasing down loose passes and causing Hartley to race out bravely on several occasions.
On the hour Bridges returned for Carter. Within five minutes Lewes were two up. A whipped cross from the right was met by an on-rushing group of Taylor, Bridges and the Brighton centre-backs. Bridges made contact first, the ball ricocheting cruelly off a defender’s knee to wrong-foot Hartley. One for the dubious goals panel, but Bridges will claim it.
Danni Lane returned for the excellent Char Owen. Sarah Kempson, busy all night, scored direct from a corner kick but the referee spotted an infringement in Albion’s favour.
Brighton responded well. At the back, Lellanni Nesbeth shone, using her strength to hold off Bergin, Bridges and Taylor, each time seeing the ball safely over the goal-line. Lewes relaxed and Brighton took advantage of some sloppy defending with a fine low finish driven in from the left. Lewes heeded the wake-up call, this time Bridges making certain with a well-struck finish after Bergin collided with Hartley.
Bergin came off worse in that exchange and was forced to leave the field, Owen coming on for the last five minutes. Bridges created the final goal, tearing onto a fine through ball. Hartley had to come out and received a yellow card after up-ending the Lewes striker. Sarah Kempson stepped up to make no mistake from the penalty spot. FT 1-4.
Lewes advance to the Challenge Cup final, scheduled for Thursday 22nd March, when they will face either Eastbourne Ladies or Crawley Wasps.
Albion: Hartley, Russell, Woods, Bacon, Clarke, Pharoah, Tubby, Nesbeth, Mason, Taylor, Carter
Subs: Kincaid, Shioui, Wilson
Lewes: Goldsmid, Johnson, Rutherford, Thompson-Agbro, Lane, McIntyre, Kempson, Bergin, Owen, Bridges, Carter
Subs: Baker, Wells, James, Taylor