Drawn into a group with four WSL teams as well as another Championship team, all based, Lewes weren’t just put against the wall with the calibre of players they’ve faced in the Continental Cup this season but with the distances they’ve had to travel. Although the East Sussex club has gotten off lightly, not drawn against any team more than 90-miles away, there is still the continued problem of a part-time team leaving to travel to mid-week games when their players are still at work. Following their last group game, we spoke to Lewes defender [and goalkeeper for the night] Amy Taylor.
With modest depth but no back-up for Faye Baker, the Rookettes were dealt any early blow when their number one went down injured early on at the Hive. Without another goalkeeper on the bench, Taylor volunteered herself and although she was a player that had some experience in goal at lower levels of the game, she concedes it a daunting prospect.
“I think it just… it was a tough one to go in when you’re already one down and against a team like that when your main ‘keeper is hobbling and can’t put any weight through it, it is quite daunting but you’ve just got to get on with it, it’s what you’re here to do.”
Unlucky that her first involvement was conceding an inch-perfect penalty to Lucy Quinn, Taylor acquitted herself with a fine save minutes later to deny Spurs but the Lilywhites showed their dominance throughout and finished with a punishing scoreline.
Despite coming into the tie in last place in the group, Lewes had had a hugely respectable league cup campaign, only losing by a lone goal to Chelsea, Reading and Crystal Palace (as well as 3-1 away to West Ham).
“We were looking forward to the match, obviously it didn’t mean too much – we couldn’t get out of the group because we’re bottom – but Spurs themselves couldn’t get out of the group either so we thought it might be a bit more of a an even match up and they might rest some of their players before their next WSL game [Reading four days later].”
But it was clear at the Hive that the visiting team weren’t just depleted but were weary from a day spent at work and two hours in a mini-bus to get to the match. For Lewes, they would have been in even hotter water if Taylor’s job wasn’t a sympathetic one that allows a touch of wiggle-room for her football.
“If you’re going to play mid-week games you need to play closer teams, you can’t expect a non-professional team to go and travel into the centre of London when their jobs don’t finish… technically, I don’t finish until 5pm so I would never have made the game [7.30pm KO]. But luckily, my work are quite good with my football so I was able to finish a little earlier and meet the mini-bus and come up here but some people don’t have that luxury so some aren’t able to make the mid-week games.”
The Conti Cup remains a competition that heavily splits opinion and whilst the defender enjoys the chance to play against strong teams she concedes that the deck is well stacked before a ball is even kicked, again the very fact of mid-week games the sticking point.
“It’s very tough for us to get up at 6.30am, go to work then travel up here and come and play. But in terms of the cup fixtures, it’s good to play the teams above you because it gives you more of an ambition to where you want to be and I think for the teams in WSL it gives their fringe and development squad players time to play which is very good experience. Against Spurs, we had some DS players with us so all-round it’s a very good set-up but I think it needs to be rethought in the fact of when you play and where in you play.”
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