The Rooks were denied a very tasty quarter-final date with Manchester City after succumbing to an undeserved defeat to Bristol City at The Pan.
It was a minor miracle the game was even played at all, with temperatures in Sussex taking on an Arctic tinge over the past few days. However, the loan of full pitch covers from FA HQ left the pitch in near-perfect condition ahead of the early 6pm kick-off, even if it was as crunchy as a Tesco’s baguette by the end of the match.
There was nothing cold about the way Lewes started the game. Izzy Dalton kept the City keeper on her toes with two long-range pokes that went just wide. Player-of-the-match Amelia Hazard then nicked a ball in the box and put a tantalising pass across the six-yard-box that just lacked a colleague to tap it in.
It was one-way traffic, until the visitors took a somewhat fortuitous lead. Jodie Hutton took an inswinging corner from the right and it floated over the head of goalkeeper Emily Moore and straight into the top-left corner.
The goal seemed to fire up the Rooks even more – handy when it was colder than your average Home Secretary out there – but the goal just wouldn’t come. Stobbs fired over, Kraft’s low shot was a burger’s width wide, Mason’s 30-yard looping effort dipped over the bar.
The second half was a similar story to the first, with the Rooks constantly pushing and probing for the goal that would secure a quarter-final spot but failing to find a finish.
Nat Johnson put in the cross of the game when she whipped a ball in from the left, but again there was nobody on hand to apply the finish. Palmer’s whipped free-kick skimmed off Kraft’s head, but wide. And then Kraft had the chance of the game, when she was put clean through in the dying minutes but had the ball robbed off her toes by a terrific saving challenge, just as she was about to pull the trigger.
Meanwhile, The Pan was once again the centre of aviation controversy. After Saturday’s bizarre incident with a remote-control plane crashing into our keeper, this time it was a drone flying over the pitch that the referee took exception to. This one appeared to be operated by one of the 65 camera crews that seem to mill around The Pan these days. Maybe check the laws on where you’re allowed to fly your toys, eh chaps?
Back on the pitch, there was another crash for the ref to deal with, as the brilliant Becks McKenna was wiped out by Grace Clinton, who was invited to warm up the showers with five minutes left on the clock.
Still, the Rooks couldn’t find their way past the ten City players, and so the great cover-up was sadly all in vain.
Lewes: Moore, McKenna, Mason, Cleverly, Johnson, Hazard, Dalton, Stobbs, Howells, Kraft, Thompson
Subs: Whitehouse, Palmer, Rita, Smith, Heria, Copus-Brown, Pursey, Longhurst
Supporters Club player of the match: Amelia Hazard, a busy, bustling presence in midfield who battled as hard as anyone.