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Yeovil Town 3 Lewes 1
Yeovil Town won the battle of the unbeaten Combination champions in convincing style to record an opening day victory in the Premier League Southern Division.
A stunning first half display gave the home team a three-goal lead at their new home at Wells.
They preserved this lead until additional time at the end of the match when Lewes grabbed a consolation but in truth, Yeovil had plenty of chances to have extended their advantage. Two goals from Laura Bray stole the show but every player contributed well in a fine display.
Lewes created a chance inside the first minute but a fine last ditch tackle by Terri Trowbridge saved the day. Yeovil poured forward and took the lead from a corner on six minutes, Grace Rapp heading home after a melee in the box on her debut for the Glovers. Stacey Pearson fired over from a Shannon Osman cross then Lewes keeper Michelle Beazley reacted well to parry from a Rosie Williams free kick which took an awkward bounce on 16 minutes.
Bray broke clear of the last defender to slot home calmly on 22 minutes to double the advantage and nearly forced an own goal just after as Yeovil cut through the visitors repeatedly. Osman was the next to go close after Jade Radburn had played her in.
Lewes nearly pulled a goal back with a fine move, ending with a low Naomi Cole drive, expertly turned away by Rachel Simkin on 27 minutes but most of action was at the other end. Pearson shot just wide, Bray got clear again and was foiled by a fine save but on 40 minutes, Williams lofted a perfect pass over the defence for Bray to calmly round the keeper and finish from a tight angle.
Lewes needed a quick goal after the break and they exerted some pressure in the opening period, forcing Simkin to punch clear twice from a corner and subsequent cross. A timely dash from her line and a sliding save was the only other occasion Simkin was tested as the visitors tried to force their way back into the match but the Yeovil back four, led superbly by skipper Rachael Edwards, saw off the Lewes attacks.
Bray set up Rapp to fire across goal and Beazley saved well to deny Bray her hat-trick on 70 minutes. Lewes kept contributing well to an enjoyable contest but their goal from a 20-yard Andreia Veiga free kick over the wall came as the match moved into additional time and did not threaten Yeovil's deserved win.
Lewes will have learnt plenty from their Premier League debut, especially the first half when the movement and passing of the home side was at its best. They reacted well in the second period but had left themselves a proverbial mountain to climb. Yeovil, in their second stab at this level, were impressive all over the pitch, sharp and crisp in passing and tackling, disciplined and well organised in defence. Joint managers Nigel Williams and Sarah Lawler must hope that this win will set the standards for the months ahead.
Yeovil Town: Rachel Simkin, Terri Trowbridge, Emma Brazell, Rosie Williams, Rachael Edwards, Jade Radburn, Laura Wensley, Stacey Pearson, Laura Bray, Grace Rapp, Shannon Osman. Subs: Michelle Keehan, Nadine Grogan, Jodi Cornwall, Kirsty Whitton.
Lewes: Michelle Beazley, Katie McIntyre, Lesley Smith, Vicky Elcombe, Holly Hinshelwood, Kelly Newton, Katie Baker, Charlotte Bennett, Claire Trafford, Andreia Veiga, Naomi Cole. Subs: Stacey Baker, Stephanie Carter, Vicky Vickery.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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