The Bees climbed off the bottom of the FA Women’s Championship table with a crucial home victory over Lewes. Lauren Pickett’s second-half penalty was the difference, as the Bees secured all three points on Women’s Football Weekend.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The game played out in very similar fashion to the Conti Cup game between the two sides just 10 days previous, the Bees had almost all of the ball and all of the chances, in a one-sided first half.
For all the Bees endeavour the first real chance came after 15 minutes, as Charlie Estcourt’s delightful cross was inches away from finding the onrushing Pickett and Amelia Hazard who would have had a simple finish if they could make contact.
Arguably the best chance of the half fell to the match-winner, as Hazard did excellently to get to the byline and produce a cross for Pickett, who turned her effort over the crossbar from six yards out. Lee Burch’s side also had several set pieces but couldn’t quite find a way past a stern Lewes backline.
Mel Filis was next to go close as she headed Brooke Nunn’s brilliant cross just wide of the near post, despite not finding the opener, the Bees looked like a team playing with freedom and confidence on their own patch.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with Burch’s side being the team in the ascendancy. Just four minutes into the half, Filis stung the palms of Saunders with a powerful strike from the corner of the area.
However, six minutes later the Bees were awarded a golden chance to get themselves ahead, as the industrious Pickett was hauled down in the area, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Pickett stepped up and placed a perfect penalty into the top corner, to score her second goal of the season in all competitions.
On 58 minutes it was almost a quickfire second as Estcourt forced Saunders to tip behind with a dipping free-kick from 25 yards out. Up the other end, Lewes’ first real attempt of the afternoon flashed harmlessly wide of Sarah Quantrill’s goal, the Bees ‘keeper was a spectator for large parts of the afternoon.
You could feel the tension as the game entered the latter stages and Filis almost put the game to bed, but her effort flashed just wide of the post.
Lewes threw bodies forward in an attempt to snatch a point and almost broke Bees hearts in the final few moments, as first Quantrill had to stand tall to make a crucial save as a Lewes attacker burst through on goal.
It was heart in mouths moments for all concerned with Bees, in the final seconds as Megan Mackey struck the crossbar with a great effort with all but the last kick of the match. But Burch’s side held on for a well earned three points.
“I think when it’s 1-0 it’s always a bit ‘backs against the wall,’ but I do think we dominated for large periods.
“It’s been a long time coming, so a clean sheet and a 1-0 win is something we’re very happy with.
“Lewes this season are very hard to break down and they’ve got a lot of results against good teams, so it wasn’t going to be a game where you’re going to get a handful of goals.
“When you get an opportunity, you need to take it and defend for your lives if you have to.
“We’d been knocking at the door, but we haven’t always been able to get the goals this season, so for us, you can’t ask for much more than a striker putting the ball in the back of the net with a penalty.
“The three points were all that mattered today, however we got there.”
You can watch the boss’ interview by clicking HERE.
The Bees return to action on Thursday night when they travel to Crystal Palace for the final group game of our Conti Cup campaign. Burch’s side have a slim chance of progressing depending on how results play out.