On a day that saw sunshine, rain and a ferocious wind that had the main stand rocking, Lewes swept London Bees aside into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Scott Booth’s side hadn’t played at home for a full month, and for the first ten minutes or so it showed. The Rooks, depleted by illness in the camp, found their passing range, with Emma Thompson looking lively up top.
Mia North, the Bees’ ‘keeper, started in shaky fashion, spilling a couple of Paula Howitzers before making amends with a brave stop from close range to deny the hosts. Grace Palmer sent in a speculative cross from the left that managed to evade everyone, only to bounce up onto the post and away to safety.
Thompson burst through the Bees backline, drawing what at first glance looked a decent last-ditch tackle from Ryah Vyse. The referee saw it differently and awarded the home side a penalty. Thompson dusted herself off and slotted home. 1-0
The goal galvanised Lewes. Ellie Mason, venturing forward at every chance, picked the ball up from Nat Johnson just outside her own area. Head up, Mason went on one of those jinking runs that gives defences cold sweats. The Bees back line parted, Mason skipped past the excellent Shauna Vassell before thumping a superb finish high past the flailing North, Howells taking a swinging left from an exuberant Jamie Rita in the celebration. 2-0
Mason, who could have had a hat-full yesterday, spurned a great chance soon after, slicing her finish into the side netting from nine yards.
Before the break, Thompson all but ended the contest with a fine finish. Sophie Whitehouse, so much a spectator all afternoon we unofficially added her to the attendance, started a move, picking out skipper Rhian Cleverly. Her ball over the top was perfectly weighted. Thompson sprang the Bees offside trap, racing clear before dancing around North to bag her second. 3-0
Howells, very much enjoying Cleverley’s range of passing, repeated the finish, this time thumping home from just inside the box, only for the assistant’s flag to rise inexorably as she turned away with a smile that said ‘you sure about that, Lino?’
Part two was a repeat show. Thompson, on a hat-trick, pulled a decent effort wide with North stranded. The heavens opened, and so did the beleaguered Bees defence. With Lewes pressing high, North, no doubt less than pleased, took a soft back-pass from a defender. She cleared, trying to launch a counter, but Libby Copus-Brown was all over it, stepping in to glide past the fullback and toe-poke a low finish in off the left upright. 4-0.
Both sides rang the changes, with Emily Kraft replacing the tiring Thompson. Booth also sent Zoe Smith, Lauren Heria and Josie Longhurst on for the last 20 minutes or so. Bees sent on Ash Goddard, Ronell Humes and Jess Burke.
Burke’s first contribution was to sell North short on a back pass. Kraft, keen to get off the mark in 2023, gladly obliged, nipping in to take the ball off North’s toes to open her account. 5-0.
Full time 5-0. The win sends Lewes into round four of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup for the first time in three years. They travel East on 29 Jan to take on Ipswich Town’s Tractor Girls. The winners of that one will be hoping for a glamorous fifth round tie.
Lewes: Whitehouse, Mason, Cleverly, Johnson, Palmer, Stobbs, Thompson, Howells, Rita, Copus-Brown, Dalton
Subs: Moore, Angel, Kraft, Smith, Heria, Longhurst
Attendance: 475 (476 with SW)
MvP: Ellie Mason
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