Lewes battled a bobbly pitch and a resilient Swindon side to secure the points and return to second in the FA WPL South. Goals from World Beach Soccer Player of the Year Sarah Kempson, Georgia Bridges and a first 1st XI strike for Lisa Fulgence capped a dominant display at Cinder Lane.
Lewes, initially unchanged from the side that lost narrowly to league-leaders Charlton last Sunday, were forced to give a debut to 17-year-old Jacquie-Anne Goldsmid after keeper Faye Baker failed a late fitness test.
Within 30 seconds of the start, Avilla Bergin saw her smart chip beat Bagguley only to rebound to safety off the crossbar. A minute later, Lewes had the lead – and how. Kempson, busy, aggressive in the centre, made room to her left before unleashing an unstoppable shot from fully 25 yards that flew into the top corner. Bagguley could simply stand and stare, unable to raise so much as an eyebrow. 0-1
It seemed an ominous start, yet ten minutes in the home side were level. After Bergin had once again gone perilously close, Swindon defended a corner and broke at pace. With her team-mates struggling to get up in support, Colford went for an audacious cross-shot that flew high over Goldsmid and into the top corner. 1-1.
That goal fueled Swindon’s belief. Despite an onslaught from the visitors, including two more chances for Bergin and another smack against the crossbar, this time from the excellent Natasha Wells after a audacious one-two with McIntyre, they held parity through to halftime. They might have taken the lead, when Arrell turned Kelly Newton to run in on goal, but for a perfectly-timed interception from Bex Thompson-Agbro. HT 1-1.
The second half saw Lewes dominate possession without finding a clear path through the closed Swindon ranks. Kempson, Bergin, Lane and McIntyre all saw efforts blocked or saved. Just shy of the hour, Lewes cut through. Kempson wriggled through on the inside left to fire in a powerful low shot. Bagguley did well to parry, but Bridges reacted first, volleying from the horizontal, three feet off the ground, back past the stranded keeper. 1-2.
Still Lewes pressed, keen to secure the points. Kelly Newton, inspired by Bridges’ acrobatics, almost converted a scissored overhead, striking the outside of the upright from a McIntyre corner. When Swindon did get away, invariably down their right through Colford and Mugford, they found Thompson-Agbro in sublime form, purring across the back line to sweep up. Yet again Katie McIntyre, aided and abetted by Newton, controlled the game from midfield. Leeta Rutherford joined them, pushing up from deep to intercept the long ball and restart attacks.
Lisa Fulgence replaced Bridges and very nearly conjured a goal with her first intervention, turning her marker to set up Wells who fired inches wide. Swindon introduced Diaz-Butcher for the hard-working Roberts. Moments later Fulgence opened her Lewes account and closed out the game with a delicious lob that had Bagguley back-peddling, unable to keep the ball out. 1-3.
Fulgence came close again moments later, trying a cheeky back-heel after a trademark Dani Lane drive to the byline had unlocked the Swindon defence. Lewes replaced Newton and Lane with Owen and Palmer to see the game out. FT 1-3
After the match I spoke to Manager John Donoghue and scorer Georgia Bridges
’Swindon defended much deeper than they did at our place (where Lewes ran out 7-0 winners) so we struggled to get in behind. The pitch made it difficult to pass the ball as we’d have liked but we worked hard and I think we scored three good goals today.’
Bridges, once again weighing in with an important goal for her side, confirmed the surface was tricky. ‘It’s the same for both sides of course, but the ball bobbled all over the place. It was tough to control at close quarters. It made some of our passes and crosses look bad.’
Swindon. worked hard to restrict Lewes, though were unable to prevent the visitors dominating possession. Bagguley, Roberts and Colford stood out in a team that defended bravely and effectively as a unit. For Lewes, McIntyre, Rurtherford, Bergin and Thompson-Agbro all had excellent games. Goldsmid impressed on debut and Fulgence showed why she has such a fine goal-scoring record. Sarah Kempson, involved and combative throughout, was awarded MvP by the traveling fans. Her second minute wonder-strike was worth the journey alone.