You can’t score “too early”, no matter what Robbie chuffing Savage says. However, it’s a theory Lewes Women are stress testing to the extreme, sweating out a 1-0 lead for almost the entire match for the second home game on the spin.
This week’s early riser was Ellie Hack, the commanding centre-back alongside Captain Cleverly. Izzy Dalton’s second-minute free-kick was whacked straight at the Rovers keeper, but the young stopper spilt it into Hack’s path and she accepted the gift.
The Rooks certainly weren’t short of chances to extend their early lead. A comical goalmouth scramble ended with the ball somehow squeaking wide of the post, while both Heidi Logan and Lucy Ashworth-Clifford passed up presentable opportunities to double the advantage.
As the half wore on, it was Rovers looking more likely to score. The lofty Richards flashed a header over, while a fierce low cross from the right looked in severe danger of being prodded home for an own goal before it was eventually snaffled clear. Ellie Hack proved her worth at both ends of the field, making a brilliant block clearance to thwart the ever-dangerous Richards after more pinball in the Rooks’ box.
The second half started more sedately, and only really came to life when Kallie Balfour and Ini Umotong were hauled from the bench. Balfour’s pace down the left caused Rovers real problems, and she came six blades of grass from earning Lewes a penalty when she was chopped down on the very edge of Roger’s chalk lines. Had he had another Strongbow before painting them, it could well have been a spot-kick.
The resulting free-kick was taken by Izzi Dalton, who stung the crossbar.
Talking of close calls, Rovers’ Helen Seed could probably count herself fortunate not to get first dibs on the Radox when she bowled over the goalward bound Georgia Timms. The presence of another chasing defender probably gave the referee reason to be lenient.
Meanwhile, it was Lewes doing the letting off moments later when Ayisi made a brilliant burst down the right and put the ball on a plate for Umotong, who fluffed the shot with the goal begging to be spanked. Balfour following in behind failed to make it count, too.
That all gave way to a fairly nervy final ten, with Rovers pushing forward and punting a succession of free-kicks and corners into the Rooks’ box – thankfully without the towering Richards to get on the end of them.
A narrow win that, like an Ikea sofa, should have been a lot more comfortable.
Lewes: Saunders, McKenna, Cleverly, Hack, O’Rourke, Hazard, Dalton, Ayisi, Logan, Timms, Ashworth-Clifford
Subs: Salgado, Boswell, Cousins, Miller, Noble, Balfour, Howells, Umotong
Boyesy’s brilliant snaps: