Lewes 1-2 Watford
FA Women’s Championship
Match report by Tai
Lewes fell to their first home League defeat of the season. With the sun beaming down, the Rooks had the bit between their teeth at the start. They were strong in the press, closing down Watford and this caused the first chance, which was also the first goal. A Watford throw deep in the Lewes left corner was easily repelled and the ball cleared up field with Lewes pressure causing the ball to go for a throw. The throw-in reached Ini Umotong who, backing into the defender, flicked it, with a deft outside of the boot touch, into the path of Freda Ayisi who took an instinctive first time toe poked shot into the corner of the past a diving Georgie Ferguson.
1-0 Lewes after 3 minutes.
Buoyed by the goal Lewes continued to be a threat, with free kicks and corners in quick succession, one resulting in Hazard taking on a difficult half volley which sailed over the bar. The danger was constant from Lewes.
Despite this dominance, Watford were soon back in the game. Adekite Fatuga-Dada did well down the left to get into the box and a sliding challenge from defender Sophie O’Rourke saw the referee point to the spot. Watford midfielder Emma Beckett stepped up and went to Tatiana Saunders right. Saunders got a hand to it but the power was just too much, the ball ending up in the side netting,
1-1, 10 minutes gone, game on.
With the goal, Watford’s confidence was restored and they entered a spell of dominance. The wings were dangerous for Watford, with Rosie Kmita and Fatuga-Dada being constant threats. But Lewes posed a threat too and fashioned a great chance as Heidi Logan fired a dangerous cross in which zipped across the face of the goal with no Lewes player able to get a telling touch. Watford came into the game more and more but Saunders was there each and every time the ball came across her 18 yard box
Ashalf time approached, the game saw a flurry of chances starting with Watford’s Fatuga-Dada darting into the box, but her near post shot was dealt with confidently by Saunders. Two minutes later Lewes get the best chance of the half when Ayisi held up the ball so well – a constant feature in the game – and laid it off to Izzy Dalton. She took a touch and without looking up fired a dipping 25 yard shot that cannoned off the crossbar, Ferguson flapping at air, nowhere near the effort.
The final chance of the half went to Watford as a corner was not properly dealt with and Watford’s Anaisa Harney connected with a good half volley. However Saunders had it covered all the way, diving and collecting the ball confidently to her right.
Half time saw the game in the balance.
When the second half started Lewes had the bit between their teeth. Ayisi was involved with all things good, coming a little deeper to affect play and linking up play from the back to the front. When she collected each ball she drove at the Watford defence causing panic. The first chance came of the second half came after eight minutes, falling to Paula Howells who had a pop shot from the edge of the box which was saved. The pressure was continuous but some wayward passing and crosses meant Lewes could not capitalise on their dominance.
On 66 minutes Watford got their first chance. A cross from Kmita was swatted away by Saunders and a follow up header was always going over. But that was all Watford needed to galvanise their team. A few more chances from crosses came for Watford with Lewes standing strong and defending well.
But then, on 73 minutes, Ayisi went into a 50/50 challenge and came off worse, having to be replaced on 77 minutes by Ellie Noble.
Disaster struck shortly after when a Lewes goal kick fell on the edge of the box to Watford’s Leanne Bell, who reacted quickest and her shot rolled just out of Saunders grasp and into the net.
2-1 to Watford.
With ten to go and being behind, Lewes piled on the pressure. Ashworth-Clifford, who came on at 71 minutes, started to affect the game more and made a great cross from the right, into the box, just out of everyone’s reach. Soon after she was at it again, bringing down the ball on the half way line confidently before a delicious cross field pass found Logan who was free on the left. But her cross went just over the bar on the 90th minute.
At the end of the six minutes of extra time, Lewes get their final chance. The ball along the surface was chased down by Umotong with just the keeper ahead of her. But a brilliant last ditch challenge by the Watford defender hit the ball out for a corner. Nothing came from it as Watford were first to clear the corner. The referee blew for full time. An unfortunate day for Lewes who lose 2-1 despite having a succession of nearly moments.
Some days it’s not your day, but the Rooks go again and look to their next fixture at home against Coventry this Sunday (1:30pm kick off).
Craig Gill reflected on a difficult day
“Extremely disappointed today, the players have set really high standards in training since I’ve been here and unfortunately today we failed to reach those standards, especially in possession.
“We worked hard out of possession which we’ve been working on and, again, they’ve applied themselves superbly well during the week, but I just felt that in possession we lacked something this week.
However, we go again from next week, we start again, because I know there is quality in the team I just think a few lapses in concentration have cost us the two goals after a great start.
“We started really well on the front foot and scored the early goal through Freda, but then at times we probably should have had more composure and more options in possession. I think we lacked that in times and I think that ultimately cost us points today.”
Saunders, Cleverly (C), Hazard, Hack, Ayisi (Noble 78’), Logan, Howells (Ashworth-Clifford 73’), Umotong, McKenna, O’Rourke (Timms 84’), Dalton (Cross 72’)
Subs not used: Salgado, Cousins, Boswell, Hartley, Miller
Goal: Ayisi (3’)