Typical. You go to the expense of an installing a state-of-the-art new pitch and you only end up using half of it.
It was the the Official Carpet Opening Day, with red ribbons being cut, a Premier League trophy to gurn next to, and well over a thousand punters inside the Pan generating a cracking atmosphere.
It was also the cliched game of two halves, with Lewes camped in the Saints half for the first period and Southampton laying siege to our goal in the second. The carpet engineers needn’t bother manicuring the half at the Terry Parris End. It saw less action than Prince Andrew did in The Falklands.
In the first half, Lewes were a force. Hazard and Howells were pulling the strings in midfield, McKenna was snapping into challenges, Kraft and Thompson were always looking to spring into the final third.
Indeed, it was Kraft’s craft that created the first goal. She sprang down the left, squared the ball to Hazard who slammed it home for a deserved lead.
Lewes continued to apply the pressure after scoring, albeit with a succession of shots from distance. Howells, Stobbs, Mason and Dalton all tried their luck from outside the box, but Saints keeper Rendell wasn’t seriously tested.
That was until a well-worked corner routine on the cusp of half-time doubled the Rooks lead. Thompson went for a little cuddle with the Saints keeper that went unnoticed by the ref, allowing Hack to head home at the far post for a 2-0 advantage at the break.
Half-time allowed Pitch Artist Rog to play with his new toys. The new pop-up sprinklers are controlled by an app, but a tech teething problem meant he couldn’t turn them off. Luckily, Rog is not only a turf master but a self-taught hacker. “I had to turn the internet off to make ’em stop,” Rog reported. If you couldn’t access your emails around lunchtime, we can only apologise.
The Rooks were dealt a blow early in the second half, when the energetic Hazard was subbed off after only a couple of minutes, presumably through injury. That robbed the Rooks of much midfield bustle and it was the visitors who were suddenly in control.
It was just past the hour when the Saints pulled one back. A defensive lapse gave Ella Morris a clear run on goal and she lashed it past the excellent Whitehouse to bring the visitors back into the frame.
The Saints didn’t let up and the second went in with a crushing sense of inevitability nine minutes later. Rafferty hooked a high ball over the head of Whitehouse and into the top corner to bring things level.
The final 20 minutes were teeth-grindingly tense as the visitors pushed for a winner. Collet came closest to ruining a fine afternoon when she turned inside two defenders and unleashed a Thunderbastard at our goal, but the cross bar bravely got in the way.
Two further injury-time breaks had Rooks’ supporters chowing down what was left of their fingernails, but Lewes held on for the second successive draw under the new regime.
Rooks: Whitehouse, McKenna, Mason, Hack, Stobbs, Hazard, Howells, Dalton Johnson, Thompson, Kraft
Benchwarmers: Heria, Copus-Brown, Angel, Cleverly, Palmer, Longhurst
Supporters Club Woman of the Match: Becks McKenna. Broke up several promising Saints attacks and started a few of her own.
Boyesy’s brilliant photos: