Lewes FC interim boss Craig Gill says the squad is working on delivering complete performances across 90 minutes after falling short in the second half of recent games.
The Rooks sit eighth in the FA Women’s Championship and have claimed just one win in four. Defeats to Crystal Palace, Blackburn and Bristol City have all been inflicted by second-half goals.
Sunday sees Lewes host Palace at the Dripping Pan in a fixture that could lift the team into seventh place with a positive result.
And Gill reckons the hard work done in training will pay off this weekend.
“In training the players have been fantastic. They’ve typically brought lots of energy and quality to the sessions, and we’ve been working on our game model to take into the Crystal Palace game,” says Gill.
“We’ve played Palace a couple of times already this season. The first half against Palace in the league a few weeks ago was extremely positive – we were on the front foot, created lots of chances and took one through Amelia. But we weren’t able to replicate that in the second half, which was disappointing for us.
“But we’ve come up with strategies to cope with that and to ensure that we perform for the full duration of the game, and stay on that front foot throughout.”
Lewes were undone by three second-half goals in last weekend’s loss to Bristol City – a game Gill described afterwards as the cliched one of “two halves”.
And he hopes the players can produce more of the first-half display against the Robins, which was dominated by the midfield.
“We’ve analysed the Bristol City game in detail with the players, and reviewed the performances in both the first and second half,” says Gill.
“As I said after the match, it was one of two halves where I thought we dominated the first – other than one save Laura (Hartley) made from a corner, which was exceptional. Other than that I don’t think they troubled us at all in that half.
“The performance was a decent one but the three goals we conceded were extremely disappointing. We’ve addressed that and we’ve realised there were some individual errors within them – but we move on with positivity.”
What happened last time
Palace come into this clash having also lost three of their last four games – including Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Coventry United. The other two defeats were against Bristol City and London City.
But that sole victory in this period was the tie against Lewes. The rooks had taken the lead that day during another impressive first-half performance, where Amelia Hazard’s strike at Hayes Lane was well deserved.
Goals from Bianca Baptise, Siobhan Marie Wilson and Coral-Jade Maines after the hour mark swung the game in Palace’s favour, before Tatiana Saunders was sent off in injury time.
Gill had said before that game that he wanted more energy from the team, which he got. But now it’s about stitching that together with a 90-minute performance. One issue Gill identified was Palace’s switch to 4-3-3 in the second half.
“We’re used to playing against that and it wasn’t really an issue for us, but we weren’t able to capture that intensity and quality with the ball in the second half,” the boss said a few days after the defeat.
“We could have gone 2-0 up but instead found ourselves 2-1 down, and we fought really hard to equalise but the goal didn’t come.”
Four home games remaining
Sunday’s clash will be the fourth last at the Dripping Pan before the Women’s Championship season ends. The Rooks also host Durham, Sheffield United and Liverpool before the campaign is out.
And Gill is hoping to put on a show for the fans.
“We’re looking forward to Sunday’s game and playing once again in front of our great supporters at the Dripping Pan,” says Gill.
“With the band there as well! And that goes not only for the Palace game but the others we’ve got here remaining in the league.”
Lewes FC vs Crystal Palace tickets
Lewes FC tickets for the game, which kicks off at 2pm on Sunday, are available to buy now online (at a discount).
Ticket prices on the gate are as follows:
Adults – £12 general admittance
Concessions – £8 general admittance online
Kids (under 16) – free!
Beach hut for six people – £99