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Lewes Womens U18 3:0 Meridian Ladies
The young Rooks produced a workmanlike performance to progress to the next round of the league cup, beating Meridian 3-0.
On a freezing, blowy afternoon on the exposed BACA 3G pitch it was more of a case of survival over flair. Meridian were only able to field ten players which stunted their desire to take the game to the Rooks. They set up very deep with two set banks of four making them hard to break down.
The young Rooks started with a back for but soon reverted to a back three with no real threat coming from the opposition. This gave wing backs Jess Richardson and Niamh Halloren licence to roam and create options down the wings.
Early on Richardson fed winger Minnie Sheppard into the left channel and she cut inside and stung the keepers hands with a good shot.
Kate Cooper was next to try her luck form distance as her curling shot from the angle just failed to find the target. This proved to be Cooper last involvement as an injury curtailed her afternoons work.
Her midfield partner in crime Megan Cranford then took a ball to the jaw and not helped by the freezing weather took an extended breather to recover. This derailed the side somewhat with enforced changes required. Jamie Quinn made her first appearance of the season coming into midfield and looked lively from the off.
It took 20mins to break the deadlock, as Chloe Nye broke free and her left footed strike was too hot for the keeper who’s fine save was followed in well by Niamh Halloren to fire home.
A unnecessary foul allowed Meridian a chance to test Keeper Jas Moulding from the angle of the area but the fierce strike was always heading just wide. A combination of loose passing and lack of movement made the rest of the half tough viewing but Lewes were in control.
Half time was met with a few huffs and puffs and coaches Newton and Carter did their best to enthuse the girls to up their games.
The back three of Critchfield, Ferguson and Lawrence were seeing plenty of the ball at the back but along with Meg Critchfield in the deep role, found options were limited which too often resulted in passes being misplaced only to see the ball returned by the tiring opponents to start again.
The second goal was well worth the wait, as the lively Jess Richardson decided to have run from the right wingback position. She skipped past two players and then as the gap opened up in front of her she drove forward towards the area and unleashed a low drive straight into the bottom corner leaving the sprawling keeper no chance.
With the game technically won and the brave ten of Meridian tiring, the tempo dropped to match the temperature and it became a scrappy half with the odd bright point thrown in.
One such moment saw the powerful Becky Simmons - who had returned to her favoured attacking role - brilliantly skip past a lunging tackle at pace to drive down the left flank before cutting back inside to unleash a great shot which smashed against the bar.
This was proving a good option for the Rooks and ultimately it was from here they wrapped up the win. Simmons again powered through and when she reached the area she took the right option of sliding the ball across to the recovered Megan Cranford who as deadly as ever, looked up and fired home from the edge of the area.
Credit to the hard working Meridian who never gave up, but found the Rooks to hot to handle on a cold day.
Newton was happy with the win, but knows the girls have more quality and desire than was on show today.
Lewes U18s: Moulding, Richardson, A Critchfield, Ferguson, M Critchfield, Halloren, Sheppard, Cooper, Cranford, Nye, Simmons
Subs: Bliss, Frith, Lawrence, Quinn
Goals: Halloren (20), Richardson (49), Cranford (80).
MVP: Becky Simmons - After a difficult and frustrating season so far Becky finally got the chance to play in her strongest position. She worked hard always looking to create something, and was looking like her old self. A shot that hit the bar was a reminder of what she is capable of.