Kuwertz the hero as Lewes win Girls Cup
Hannah Kuwertz inspired her Lewes Under-14s side to victory with four goals in a ruthless performance against a battling Withdean Youth side in the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup Final.
County Cup finals returned to our HQ after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic with a healthy crowd in attendance to lend their support to two young sides. It was Rob Palmer’s impressive Lewes squad, however, whom claimed victory and showed why they made the step up to the Junior Premier League.
For their part, Chris Kyffin-Walton’s Withdean Youth find themselves competing well in the Sussex County Women & Girls Football League but Lewes proved a tough task.
Kuwertz scored four goals - including a hat-trick in the first 13 minutes - with Rosa Simanowitz and Emma Wood also on the score sheet.
A delighted Palmer praised the quality of his side’s play and explained how his side remained professional despite a 5-0 interval lead.
He said: “It was a very pleasing performance, the league is a good level, but we enjoy the cup because it gives us a chance to play against sides we don’t normally play, at grounds we don’t normally get to visit so there’s a lot of variety and it makes the girls think about how to adapt to new challenges.
“We were 5-0 up at half-time but we spoke about the first-half and the importance of maintaining our shape, our game plan, the level we wanted to play at which can be difficult to do when you’re in control so much.
“The girls are very good at identifying our strengths and if we need to change anything, so it was just offering a few pointers really.
“This is our first full year with this group so I couldn’t have asked for more, the players love it and although we’re more performance driven than results driven, winning becomes a habit.”
Lewes came out firing in their first COVID-era final and looked ruthless in their attacks.
Kuwertz took only 82 seconds to make her mark as she put her side, ahead when her angled effort was parried by Withdean keeper Aisha Tarzi but squirmed out of her grasp and in.
Willow Exley had a goal ruled out for offside, but it was only a temporary reprieve for Withdean whom, failing to stop the incoming attacks from Lewes.
Shortly after Simonawitz had a shot deflected over the bar, Kuwertz seized on Olivia Bagaeen’s heavy touch on halfway and raced through to fire beyond the advancing Tarzi to make it 2-0 only ten minutes into the contest.
Three minutes later and it was a third goal for Lewes as Kuwertz completed her treble when she finished well on the angle having been picked out by impressive strike partner Simonawitz.
Withdean didn’t act beaten and continued to battle, almost pulling a goal back when Zoe Case cleared off the line after a goalmouth melee from a Withdean corner.
Pippa Fisher flashed a shot wide but Simonawitz added the fourth as the rout continued 18 minutes in when she capitalised on another defensive error.
Caitlin Griffin finally called the underworked Rose Townsend into action at the other end whilst Tarzi continued to stand tall in the face of the Lewes onslaught as she saved superbly to keep out Tia Botting, substitute Martha Behr and another replacement, Amelia Fogden, in quick succession.
But despite her heroics, there was to be a further addition to the scoresheet through Emma Wood’s penalty, awarded by referee Graham Brown after Case had been scythed down.
To their credit, Withdean’s heads never dropped and Lewes would only add one more goal in the second half - thanks in no small part to the intervention of their busy keeper, Tarzi.
She denied Wood then blocked superbly with an outstretched foot to keep out Kuwertz before Simanowitz almost got in on the act again having been found by Wood, but Tarzi was once more equal to her effort.
Isabelle Stray went close to a consolation and Mia Starr then registered her side’s first effort on goal in the 46th minute when Townsend parried out a 20-yarder and sprung up to deny Bo Hughes on the follow up.
Despite the fact five goals had gone past her, credit must go to Tarzi for a string of superb saves - so much so she ran Kuwertz close for player of the match.
Her best stop came from Behr who burst through midfield, cut inside and let fly but the Withdean stopper’s superb reflexes tipped the ball up and on to bar when it seemed certain the Lewes sub was poised to score.
Another fine save, this time from Exley, again kept the score down but dominant Lewes would not be denied for long as Kuwertz completed the rout with her fourth goal - and her side’s sixth - five minutes from time.
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats: (Lewes-Withdean Youth)
Goals (6-0); Shots (22-6); Shots on Target (14-2); Fouls (4-3); Corners (7-4); Offsides (2-2); Yellow Cards (0-0); Red Cards (0-0)
Lewes: Townsend; Beck, Ratcliffe, Read, Exley; Case, Sandys, Fisher; Botting, Kuwertz, Simanowitz.
Subs: Behr, Wood, Freestone, Obee, Fogden.
Withdean Youth: Tarzi; Farooqi, Griffin, Ricca-Smith, Wickham; Bagaeen, Atkins; Robinson, Darley, Stray; Hughes.
Subs: Kyffin-Walton, Starr, Bickerton
Match report by Jamie Spoor