Report by Tai Kolade.
Lewes lost 1-0 away at Charlton Athletic and, If we’re being honest about this game, The Rooks were never really in it. There were moments of potential joy, moments where the Lewes danger was real, but that’s actually all they were in the end, moments.
For the first 45 minutes the game threatened to be all Charlton. They were dynamic, linking play better and winning all contested balls. Tatiana Saunders was the best Lewes player on the pitch in the first half and that’s both commendable to her but a worrying indication of how the match would and did go. Charlton’s high press forced The Rooks into inviting unnecessary pressure onto themselves and that’s where Charlton’s goal came from. The high press forces the ball to be played back to Saunders, problem is the ball is short and up for grabs. However Saunders, showing full commitment to the cause, produces an inch perfect slide tackle, taking the ball the 50/50 ball, jumping up and passing to Rhian Cleverly on the left. Unfortunately for our captain, her pass forward was intercepted under pressure and from Charlton’s Lois Heuchan who got to the line quickly before she squared the ball for Elise Hughes to stroke into an unprotected net.
The goal finally kicked The Rooks into some sort of gear and they found their first chances after a Charlton foot poked the ball from Freda Ayisi, it fell to Imi Umotong who held her own before she spun and fired into the side netting. Umotong went down after the chance and wouldn’t return for the second half. Losing your top goal scorer is a miss for any team, but Lewes came out in the second half and were a better team. The tackles became stronger, the moves became sharper, the chances became better, but nothing that truly tested Eartha Cumings in the Charlton net. The closest chance fell to Ayisi who connected with the ball from 25 yards to sadly see it cannon off the bar and out. The bar is probably still shaking now.
It was always going to be a hard task against a team which has kept 4 clean sheets in a row in all competitions but the Rooks will bounce back as they face Sunderland (Tickets on sale now) at The Dripping Pan on the 23rd January.
Lewes Manager Craig Gill:
“We are all very disappointed with the result and particularly the first half performance that saw us make basic errors both in and out of possession against a good Charlton team.
“Perhaps there might have been be a degree of match rustiness given that we haven’t played a competitive game for a month but it certainly doesn’t reflect the good work and quality that the players show in training on a daily basis.
“We discussed this at half-time and the quality of possession and defending in the second half was much better.
“We’ll be looking for the great support of our fans to help spur the players on against Sunderland in order to achieve our usual high level of performance.”
Lewes: Saunders, Cleverly, Cousins, McKenna, Noble, Ashworth-Clifford, Ayisi, Howells, Dalton, Cross, Umotong,