An impressive display by a well-organised and determined Lewes side ensured that Liverpool lost further ground at the top of the FA Women’s Championship after a 2-2 draw at The Dripping Pan in breezy conditions.
A cagey first twenty minutes or so saw Lewes have the best of the play. The Sussex side were well organised and comfortable in defence and offered more of a threat offensively in this period.
They forced the opening corner after six minutes when Katie Rood caused problems down the left, but Leighanne Robe cleared comfortably at the near post. Three minutes later, Sophie O’Rourke was fouled on the left with Megan Mackey’s free-kick claimed by Rachael Laws. Shortly afterwards, a slip from Robe allowed Georgia Timms in for Lewes but she was forced wide by clever defending and the chance was gone.
It was just past the quarter hour mark before Liverpool created anything going forward. Rinsola Babajide, who became a growing influence on the game, was involved – first forcing Timms to concede a corner from a dangerous cross and then firing in a shot which was blocked by Sammy Quayle.
It was the 22 year-old Londoner that created the opening goal of the game after twenty-six minutes. Causing trouble again down the left, Babajide played a teasing ball into the danger zone of the six yard box and former AS Roma star Amalie Thestrup slid in along with Lewes defender Nicola Cousins with the ball rolling into the net. In the process, Tatiana Saunders required treatment with what appeared to be an injury to her ankle.
Lewes responded well to this adversity. First, Mackay played in another free kick towards her skipper Rhian Cleverley but the ball was cleared.
However, Simon Parker’s charges got the equaliser that their efforts deserved just two minutes before the break. New Zealand international Katie Rood broke through the middle and cut towards the right of the box before sliding an effort through ahead of Taylor Hinds that went under the diving Rachael Laws and into the net for her first goal in the Championship.
The visitors had an opportunity right on half-time, but Hinds’ fierce effort from the edge of the area was well saved by Tatiana Saunders in the Lewes goal.
The injury to Saunders in the process of Liverpool’s goal saw her replaced for the second half by Laura Hartley.
Liverpool came out strongly and dominated much of the second half. After creating some early chances, Lewes held firm initially, but eventually the Merseysiders broke through.
Taylor Hinds had a shot blocked by Danielle Lane, but the ball found its way to Melissa Lawley. Her fine cross found Rinsola Babajide who controlled and then fired a volley superbly past the despairing dive of Laura Hartley.
Liverpool were now rampant and Lawley was denied by Hartley. Yet, to their huge credit, Lewes remained well organised and weathered the storm.
The Sussex side grew back into the game, and on seventy-two minutes, Megan Mackey forced a corner off of Taylor Hinds down the right. Her flag kick caused problems in the six yard box with both Danielle Lane and Ellie Hack in the mix with the substitute looking to be the one who forced the ball over the line for an equaliser than was just reward for hard work and a never-say-die spirit.
Two minutes later, Lewes were desperately unlucky not to take the lead when Emily Donovan found Georgia Timms, but the effort came crashing back off of the post with Rachael Laws beaten.
Liverpool turned the pressure on again in the final stages – and were certain they should have been awarded a penalty with thirteen minutes left as the ball looked to have come off of Sammy Quayle’s elbow in the box but after consulting with her assistant referee, Jane Simms turned the protests down.
The visitors had two further chances – a spectacular looking bicycle kick from Amalie Thestrup and a volley from Rachel Furness but both were over.
Lewes would be delighted for this point which was well earned. Durham and Leicester City would be equally delighted as both of them now have a real chance to pull away from the Reds at the top of the Championship.
Lewes: Saunders, Quayle, Cleverley, Cousins, O’Rourke, Lane, Noble, Mackey, Rood, Timms, Donovan.
Substitutes: Hartley (GK), Hack, Jones, Jhamat, Boswell, Leek, Howells, Newman, Savva.
Scorers: Rood 43, Hack 72.
Liverpool: Laws, Jane, Fahey, Robe, Hinds, Bailey, Roberts, Furness, Lawley, Babajide, Thestrup.
Substitutes: Foster (GK), Hepps, Hodson, Moore, Hearns.
Scorers: Thestrup 26, Babajide 58
Referee: Jane Simms.