In February, my girlfriend and I were blessed with the birth of our first child. With her arrival and coaching Havant & Waterlooville U15 Girls on a Saturday morning, it has been hard to justify attending many games in person, so much of my football reporting has been done remotely via the tv and online streams. Therefore I was understanably excited by this oppertunity.
When browsing the Conti Cup midweek fixtures I noticed that Lewes were hosting Bristol City. I was able to get clearance from Lewes (and my girlfriend) to attend the game. I was over the moon to return to a club that I am so fond of, although it was with much sadness that I wouldn’t be joined by hundreds of fans.
The home side were still reeling from a 1-0 defeat to London Bees after what I was told as being a “soft” penalty. In the absence of Georgia Timms and Katie Rood, defender Sammy Quayle was moved into more of an advanced role. She’s not stranger to this role as played as a forward when at Portsmouth, before moving to Lewes.
Bristol City came into the match on the back of some terrible results but most recently a morale-boosting 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. They were still feeling the effects of a COVID outbreak within the squad. Manager, Tanya Oxtaby, was still not present and again Gary Probert deputized. Probert and Oxtaby named a strong side which featured Ebony Salmon, Sophie Baggaley, Carla Humphrey and a first start for Ellen Jones.
During the early stages of the game, Bristol City were the dominant side in possession, with the vast majority of it occurring in the Lewes half. Ebony Salmon was looking a real danger on the right wing and to emphasise the dominance, Bristol City keeper, Sophie Baggaley was even seen pushing up that far she wasn’t far from the centre circle.
Jemma Purfield and Abi Harrison had early chances but Laura Hartley in the Lewes goal saved comfortably on both occasions.
It was Purfield who opened the scoring in the twenty-second minute with a spectacular shot from distance. She picked up the ball, drove forward and was allowed too much space so unleashed a powerful shot from distance that gave Hartley no chance.
Bristol City’s doubled their lead on thirty minutes when Emma Bissell was the first to react to the loose ball after a Purfield corner.
Bristol City had Lewes on the ropes and hit the woodwork through Salmon in the thirty-first minute. The former Manchester United forward didn’t have to wait long to get her goal, she added a third on thirty-four minutes and this was how it remained going into half time.
Lewes re-organised with Sammy Quayle moving back into a more familiar defensive role. This seemed to have a more positive impact as they were much more organised and solid in the early exchanges. The home side were able to use the ball in more advanced positions and this was rewarded in the fifty-fifth minute when club captain, Rhian Cleverly converted a corner to pull one back.
Bissell and Salmon continued to be dangerous outlets for Bristol City, although Lewes were now closing down the space available in midfield and when the ball did make it into their defensive third they were hunting in packs, one defender battling to win the ball while another sweeps in, picking up the ball and playing it forward.
Lewes were also looking like they could have pulled another goal back and make for an interesting end to the game but that second goal never materialised and Bristol were able to see out the game to progress into the next round of the Conti Cup.
Bristol City Women: Baggaley, Evans (Layzell 45′), Matthews (C), Humphrey, Salmon, Allen (Colis 72′), Bissell, Harrison (Cook 67′) Purfield, Mastrantonio, Jones (Wilson 84′)
Subs Not Used: Haaland
Lewes FC Women: Hartley, Quayle, Cleverly, Hack (Howells 69′), Jones (Leek 81′), Noble, Boswell, Donovan (Lane 45′), O’Rourke, Mackey (Jhamat 81′), Porter
Subs Not Used: Saunders, Cousins, Newman, Griffin, Savva