Lewes FC women’s boss Simon Parker is expecting the Rooks’ second trip to the North East in a week to be a high-intensity game when they come up against Durham on Sunday, reports Joe Short
Parker’s troops earned a 1-1 draw at Sunderland last weekend and could have come away with all three points from the trip to the Stadium of Light.
The squad will stay over in Durham on Saturday evening so as to be fresh for Sunday’s noon encounter with Lee Sanders’s side.
And Parker says his players have shown they are ready for the battle to come after impressing in training this week.
“Training’s been good, the intensity and application was great,” says the boss.
“It’s been a little disjointed because a few players have got niggles, so we’re trying to work through that. What with the travel at the weekend it’s taken time to recover.
“Considering the time we left the stadium we weren’t back until the early hours of the morning. It’s just about managing ourselves through the week but the quality has been there.”
Lewes had chances to put the game beyond Sunderland last Sunday and increase the lead earned through Rhian Cleverly’s 12th-minute opener, but had to settle for a point following Rebecca McKenna’s late own goal.
“Sunderland are a good side so when you take that into account, plus a long trip north and all the travel involved, a few hiccups along the way that we had to deal with, it was a good point,” says Parker.
“In the grand scheme of things, playing against the top of the league (and earning a draw) isn’t that bad. But we are disappointed. We didn’t play to the level we know we are capable of, especially in possession.
“We see it as an opportunity missed, no discredit to Sunderland. Watching the game back we should have been able to win that game. But there are things we need to do better and work on, it’s a learning opportunity that’s for sure.”
We need to score more
Cleverly’s goal at the Stadium of Light was her first of the season and came from a Paula Howells corner.
But Parker says the team needs to be more clinical with the chances they get.
“It was a really good delivery from Paula, which was great for her. A well-timed run from Rhian,” he says.
“It’s good to get goals from set-pieces but it’s a shame we couldn’t score any more. It was a good start but we need to kick on from that.
“When we score an opener we need to get into that mindset of getting another one, and then another again.”
Back to the North East
Having got the squad back to East Sussex in the early hours of Monday morning, it’s been something of a quick turnaround for Parker to prepare the players for Sunday’s noon encounter at Maiden Castle.
And the manager is expecting a highly-pressurised game up in the North East this time around.
“To be fair to the teams like Sunderland and Durham they have to do these trips a lot. Maybe it means we’re prepared for what’s to come,” he says.
“Durham are really strong and are always there at the top of the table. They’ve got a steady squad, brought in a couple of players and are strong. They’re very good at what they do and it’s no surprise to see them where they are.
“On the whole it will be very similar in the sense that we have concepts we try to follow, so it should be familiar to last weekend. But it will also be different in some ways. Sunderland didn’t really press us much the first half, but we’ll expect Durham to be more intense there.
“We won’t have as much time on the ball and our decision making will have to be quicker, sharper, and we’ll have fewer touches on the ball. We need to be prepared for a slightly higher intensity.”
One to watch
Beth Hepple has scored three goals in the league for Durham already this season Parker admits the 25-year-old is one his defence must keep an eye on.
“There are so many good players, their defence and midfield are great,” he says. “Hepple can score and create goals, she’s a key player to how they play. Usually if you keep her quiet you’ve a better chance of getting a result.
“But even against Charlton their defender Kathryn Hill scored a volley off a corner, so they’re strong in every position. We’ll have a job at keeping everyone quiet.”