Whatever the merits of the club’s recent April Fool’s gag – Pitch Artist Rog wrapping the goal posts in old socks – the Dripping Pan woodwork got plenty of attention on Sunday.
Visitors London City started things off with barely a minute gone, a deflected shot pinging back off Tatiana Saunders’s left post. With four minutes elapsed it was Lewes who rattled the upright. Ini Umotong got up to lay off a high bouncing ball to Freda Ayisi.
The Lewes 10 lit the afterburners, scorching through the centre circle to unleash a peach of a pass in behind the London left-back. Paula Howells was on it like a flash, cutting inside on her left. Her low shot beat Shae Yanez but not the post. The ball deflected across the six-yard box where Umotong stepped in to side-foot home. 1-0 Rooks, or as Men’s gaffer Tony Russell, on co-comms with our very own Baz Collins, said, “1-0 Rooks, thanks for coming”.
Lewes looked to double their advantage soon after, Howells, once again finding space on the right, picking out Ayisi in the box. Former Rook Mollie Rouse put in a robust sliding challenge that sent Freda flying, the faithful’s calls for a penalty waved away by referee Louise Saunders.
Howells tried her luck from out wide from Amelia Hazard’s lay-off, her curling cross-shot swooping perilously close to Yanez’s back stick. Dalton got closer with a looping free-kick that kissed the top of the bar as Lewes dominated the early stages.
Rattled, the women from Dagenham upped a gear but found Rooks skipper Rhian Cleverly and her defensive unit in mean mood. The main threats for the visitors came from Rhianna Jarrett and Karin Muya, both firing well over from distance. Mollie Rouse tried her luck from downtown but again the LGB Brass Band in the Philcox were in more danger than a Saunders clean sheet.
There was just time for Lewes to strike the bar before the break, Yanez getting a glove to a dipping 25-yard free kick before the ball flew to safety.
The second half saw more crossbar challenge efforts from the visitors and a terrific late strike from Lucy Ashworth-Clifford that brought the save f the day out of a fully-stretched Yanez.
Simon Parker’s side notched a well-deserved, if hard-fought, first win of the season, with Tony Russell picking the dominant Ellie Hack as his most valuable player.
Next up: the lads are on the road to Merstham on Tuesday. Barring news of a rearranged home game vs Charlton the women are next in league action away to the current league leaders, Sunderland’s Black Cats, on the 26th.
Lewes: Saunders, Cleverly, Hazard, Hack, Ayisi, Howells, Umotong, McKenna, Balfour, O’Rourke, Dalton
Subs: Salgado, Cousins, Ashworth-Clifford, Noble, Timms, Logan, Boswell, Miller
James Boyes’ photos