Lewes started a new year and a new era with a tough loss away to Leicester City. A poor 15 minutes either side of the break saw the hosts score three goals and effectively end the contest.
New manager Fran Alonso rang the changes with his first team selection, with Kate McIntyre and defender Georgia Robert on the bench. ‘Keeper Faye Baker took the armband, with Sophie O’Rourke joining Bex T, Amy Taylor and Charlie Boswell in the back four.
The match had started brightly for the Rooks, players moving the ball quickly to negate City’s high press, though their forays into the opponent’s half were too often thwarted by a trigger-happy assistant’s flag. The home side saw more of the ball as the half wore on, with Baker the busier of the two ‘keepers, her flying, one-handed save from Ayisi’s rising drive worth the price of admission alone.
Lewes fashioned a great chance of their own halfway through the first half, Sarah Kempson’s clever reverse pass releasing Bergin, Lambourne leaping to pluck her attempted lob out of the air.
Four minutes before the break Leicester took the lead. Vicky Carleton took a blow leaping for a high ball on the edge of the Leicester box, left in a heap as Melissa Johnson broke away. She fed Freda Ayisi on the Leicester left and was repaid with a perfect pass that Johnson tucked away from 6 yards. 1-0.
Moments later Charlie Boswell was clattered by Lucy Johnson, the young Fox getting a yellow for her troubles. Boswell, one of the players of the match, was forced to leave the field and Lewes ended the half with ten players.
Five minutes after the break Lewes were two down. Fiona Worts’ shot took a wicked deflection off Taylor and looped over Baker and into the net. Five minutes after that and the contest was settled, Worts finished unaided this time. 3-0.
Lewes continued to fight, building momentum and forcing City to defend well. Kempson tested Lambourne with a low shot and saw a curled effort dip just over the bar. Bergin went one better, beating Lambourne but not the woodwork as her shot on the turn crashed back off the crossbar.
McIntyre and Moloney replaced Lane and Thompson-Agbro as Lewes continued to take the game to the hosts but City’s defence stood firm. 17-year-old Lucy Johnson added the icing to her birthday and the Leicester cake with a stunning strike into Baker’s top corner in the 89th minute. FT 4-0.
Lewes MvP: Charlie Boswell. A strong all-round performance in defence and sharp on the counter attack. Battled on through the second half despite a nasty challenge that might have ended proceedings for a lesser player.
After the game, skipper Faye Baker was philosophical.
“It’s disappointing to come away with that score-line. They took their chances well. We’re learning a new way of playing and Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take a while for us to gel but we will and when we do the football will be good.”
Manager Fran Alonso:
“It was difficult, we knew Leicester were very good but of course we wanted to win the game, we came here to get the points. We pressed high, we had to make adjustments and at times they broke our pressing line. They had a lot of pace up front and we were punished on some occasions.
Two of the goals from my point of view we should not have conceded. The first, our player was down, the player she would have tracked scored. (Leicester) were good, they deserved the win. For us it’s a learning process. We are asking the girls to do some things they are not used to doing. We are trying to change some habits and this will take time.
We stick together. Hopefully we will see results in our playing style and then results on the pitch.”
NEXT MATCH: Lewes travel to Spurs next Sunday, 13th January