Sunday 6th May 2018
FA Women’s Premier League South
Rookettes Beat The Heat To Seal Double Over Gills
Lewes completed their second FA Women’s Premier League double in a week with victory over Gillingham Ladies on Sunday.
Goals from Avilla Bergin and another from prolific skipper Kate McIntyre secured the win, with ‘keeper Faye Baker bagging yet another clean sheet.
The match was played in baking conditions on a thick Meridian Sports Centre pitch, but that didn‘t stop Lewes from taking control of the match from the first whistle to the last. In truth they might have scored any number of goals if it wasn’t for a superb rear-guard display from the hosts and another fine performance from home ‘keeper Courtney Shanly.
Avilla Bergin and Vick Carleton provided width and a steady supply to striker Amy Taylor, with Dani Lane in behind. Charlotte Owen, giving another assured display, controlled the match alongside her Captain in midfield.
Carleton had the first chance in the 2nd minute getting away from her marker to fire just over Shanly’s crossbar. On another day Taylor might have bagged a hat-trick. She hassled and harried all afternoon, chasing every ball, not giving a moment’s rest to the beleaguered Gills defenders. Ellie Symonds needed treatment after a brave block on the Lewes striker.
Tash Wells, probing forward at every opportunity, fired over after a McIntyre corner that dropped just over Lane’s head. Lane, in the absence of Rutherford and Kempson, in a slightly adjusted role, showed her tenacity in the tackle, breaking up play to leave Owen to launch a wave of attacks.
It may have been the warm air, or the dense turf, but Lewes saw chance after chance fly high over the Gills goal. Those that stayed low were blocked by Gills bodies or parried by Shanly, leaving McIntyre to get plenty of corner practice from either flank.
Bergin had the best chance of the half, a fierce strike from the angle, which brought the best out of Shanly, saving well at her near post. HT 0-0.
The second period started in similar vein, all Lewes, Gills with ten players behind the ball. The opener fell almost immediately. A McIntyre corner dropped in the six-yard box, triggering a flurry of feet. Bergin slid in to make sure and Lewes had the lead. 0-1.
Gillingham were forced to come forward and fashioned a series of half-chances through Kallie Balfour and Jade Keogh, who found Kylie McCarthy and Tammy Waine all too happy to show off their defensive skills. Waine, relishing another 90 minutes, thrilled the away support with one wonderful move; a glance left, a drop of the shoulder and a turn into space that disarmed her opponent and started another attack in one go.
As the heat took its toll, the home side grew frustrated without the ball and challenges became more fraught, Owen receiving a lecture after reacting to almost having her shirt removed. Gills enjoyed their best spell, a ten-minute period when they found space and almost cut through on several occasions.
As often happens, though, it was Lewes who prospered. Another Waine intercept found Owen who slipped a pass through the centre. With Taylor dragging her markers wide, McIntyre latched on to the ball, dancing past two defenders to slot coolly past Shanly. 0-2
Georgia Bridges came on for Wells, as Lewes looked to fresh legs to stretch a tiring home defence. It almost paid off within a minute, Bridges tearing away from her marker to win yet another corner. Ava Rowbotham joined the action, showing some fine, assured touches and plenty of drive in centre midfield.
Gillingham spurned a golden chance to half the deficit late-on. Kylie Manktelow, on as a sub, burst through the centre. Baker came out to narrow the angle, Manktelow side-stepping the Lewes ‘keeper only to stumble as she pulled the trigger, her shot drifting agonisingly wide of the open goal. FT 0-2.
John Donoghue was delighted with the way his team played.
‘We created a lot of good chances. I was really happy with the way we played, the way we moved the ball and how we went about our business today. It was a dominant and professional performance, another clean sheet, another three points.
‘That puts us on 41 points I believe, way above our previous best in this division, and keeps us in 4th spot. The league is Charlton’s to lose now, but we still have plenty to play for and I’ll be looking for another big performance on Sunday.’
Cardiff City Ladies visit the Dripping Pan for the Rookettes’ last home game of the season on Sunday 13th May. The match will be followed by the Lewes FC Women End of Season Awards, albeit with one more away match to come, v Coventry on 20th May.
MvP: Avilla Bergin
Non-stop performance, created a host of chances and pouched a poacher’s goal
Baker, Owen, Thompson-Agbro, McIntyre (c), Carleton, Lane, McCarthy, Wells, Bergin, Taylor, Waine.
Bridges (76), Rowbotham (86), Goldsmid, Carter (90+5)