“Is that Ellie Mason starting up front?”
“Nah, she can’t be.”
“She bloody is, you know.”
Thus was the conversation between me and Baz the Mic as the game kicked-off, with us two halfwits trying to work out the shape of the team.
Could Ellie play up front? Just a bit.
With absolutely no offence to all the strikers who’ve played for us over the years, I’m struggling to remember a more complete forward’s performance. Four goals scored, all decent strikes, the fourth absolutely sensational. And, by the way, she’s a defender.
It took Ellie all of five minutes to get off the mark. Becks McKenna made the first of her 874 bursting runs down the right and cut the ball back from the byline, eventually falling to Ellie to slam home.
The second came close to the half hour, after Mason ran on to a smashing through ball from midfield and slotted past O’Sullivan as if she’d been playing as a number 9 for her entire career.
Cardiff had barely mustered a threat as half-time approached, the biggest danger to Sophie Whitehouse being hypothermia as the bitter wind cut across The Dripping Pan. But just before the break, Ardland pulled one back for the visitors, with a looping 25-yard shot that may have caught a deflection before floating over Whitehouse into the top corner.
That goal could have been a turning point, but the Rooks didn’t panic. A whipped Hazard free-kick was poked into the net by someone in a gaggle of players on the six-yard box but the flag ruled it out. No matter, as Mason was on hand to claim her third minutes later. She broke free on the left-hand side of the box before shooting low and hard to notch her hat-trick.
She wasn’t done, either. The fourth was a peach. A lobbed ball found her at the far post, where she trapped the ball on her chest and leathered it past O’Sullivan to put the game beyond all doubt.
Five and six came as the game was gasping for breath. The fifth was definitely the weirdest goal of the day, a corner that sub Kenzie Weir seemed to backheel as the ball dropped behind her. It looped over her head and just over the line, according to our friend the lino (we can be pretty sure he’s not Russian in the current climate). The sixth was another strong team goal, again set up by a storming run from McKenna, whose shot was parried into the path of Aqsa Mushtaq for her first goal for the club.
And so *checks notes* into the FA Cup quarter-chuffing-finals we go, with a new forward who should strike fear into any of our potential Big Cheese opponents. A forward who’s been working undercover in our defence for the past couple of years. It’s one El of a story.
Lewes: Whitehouse, McKenna, Barton, Cleverly, Johnson, Hazard, Wardlaw, Stobbs, Howells, Thompson, Mason
Subs: Palmer, Rita, Copus-Brown, Pursey, Longhurst, Dalton, Mushtaq, Weir, Moore
Supporters Club player of the match: Tough one… nobody really stood out.
Video highlights from Your Instant Replay:
Boyesy’s brilliant photos: