Crawley Wasps were beaten in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final for the third year in a row, losing 4-0 to Lewes on Thursday.
Georgia Bridges netted twice and former Wasps striker Rebecca Carter scored a stunning strike from distance for the FA Women’s Premier League side, who have applied to join the WSL Championship for next season.
It marked Wasps’ first defeat since May 2017 but amounted to more heartache in this competition after 5-1 losses to Brighton in the last two seasons.
They were indebted to several good saves from goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs to keep them in touch at the break, although she was beaten by Bridges’ firm strike from the edge of the box on 25 minutes.
At the other end, Naomi Cole’s free-kick was gathered by Lewes keeper Faye Baker.
Carter had scored a spectacular goal in the 2016 final for Wasps and repeated her magic at the same end of the ground within 40 seconds of the restart.
That was to prove a turning point as Lewes visibly relaxed and started to pin Wasps back for periods of the second half.
Paul Walker’s side did not surrender and only smart defending from Natasha Wells prevented Wasps’ Faye Rabson getting a free shot away against her old club.
But Gibbs remained busy as she saved from Vicky Carleton before Bridges got her second, latching on to a through ball from the excellent Avilla Bergin.
Danielle Lane finished from six yards after being found by Carter’s cross, while all Wasps could muster was a Kemina Webber effort fielded by Baker.
“It was a very competitive game, one I’m sure our players will learn from,” said Wasps boss Paul Walker.
“It would have been lovely to have been lifting that trophy but this will not define our season.”
Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Fleischman, Drury, Rabson; Webber.
Subs: Hillman, Callaghan, N.Smith, Davies, T. Smith.