Monday, 2 September 2013

Lewes Ladies 2 v 1 Charlton Athletic Ladies

Sunday 1st September 2013
FA Women's Premier League Southern Division
The Dripping Pan, Lewes
Admission including programme: £3.00
Team Sheet: 20p
Attendance: 87
Match Rating: 4

I decided to take in an extra game today, to watch the women's team of Charlton Athletic for the first time since their relegation from the top flight several seasons ago. A further attraction of going to this game would be the opportunity to visit one of my favourite grounds in Sussex, the wonderfully named, quirky and unique Dripping Pan.

The Dripping Pan is a couple of minutes walk from Lewes train station, and has not changed noticeably since my last visit. Programmes were given out free of charge on admission, 8 pages attractively designed and with enough material of interest to preview the game ahead. Team sheets were also available from the clubhouse for a nominal charge.

In this, the third tier of women's football, Lewes lost their opening game 1-2 at Coventry City, whilst Charlton won 2-1 away at West Ham. Charlton are expected to be one of the stronger teams in this division this year, having plied their trade in the second tier on women's football last season, finishing in seventh place out of ten teams in the Premier League National Division, but as they were not successful in their application to join the newly formed second division of the Super League, and will have to remain in the third tier until 2018 at the earliest, with no promotion available until at least then. Lewes finished in a comfortable fifth place in the ten team Premier League Southern Division last season.

On a warm but mainly overcast afternoon, the first half was competitive with Lewes probably looking the more threatening team, although defensive lapses meant either team could have opened the scoring, but the scoreline remained goalless at half time.

Charlton seemed to come out in the second half with much more intent and indeed the took three lead on 53 minutes when a peach of a cross from the right wing by Gemma Shepherd was headed into the roof of the net by Kit Graham. They couldn't extend their lead further despite their superiority and on the hour mark, a Lewes forward saw the keeper out of position but her shot came back off the crossbar. Four minutes later though, Lewes did get back on level terms with a lovely curling shot by Naomi Cole, on loan from Super League outfit Chelsea, from a slight angle over the keeper and into the net. On 72 minutes Lewes were awarded a penalty for an apparent trip, which the referee took an age to award, looked to the linesman and even though no confirmation seemed to be forthcoming, the referee awarded the penalty anyway. The penalty by Cole was struck weakly and close to the keeper, who comfortably saved and held onto the ball. Both sides had chances to win the game, and eventually it was the home side who did with a simple lobbed finish over the keeper by Catherine O'Hagan. Charlton piled on the pressure in injury time but Lewes held on for the three points, which on the balance of play they just about deserved.

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