The Middlesex FA women’s team headed south to Portsmouth last Thursday evening to play their Royal Navy counterparts in the Southern Counties Competition. This was our third match in the competition this season. We had recorded victories against Hertfordshire and the Army but were denied a third victory by a goal scored with the very last kick of an exciting game. It was yet another absorbing clash, which illustrated the excellent quality of the competition this season. Because of the recent heavy rainfall, the match was played on the HMS Temeraire 3G pitch.
We did most of the early attacking and went ahead in the 3rd minute through Chloe Sampson from a cross by Kasha Petit. Navy keeper, Roxy Roberts got a hand to Chloe’s shot into the far corner of her goal.
We had further chances. Lavana Neufville headed just wide and a header from Ashley Cheatley hit the cross bar.
The home side then came more into the match. A finely judged tackle by Rachel Blackburn dispossessed Anthea Kaptein, who was through on goal. Then captain Natalie Bavister, the Navy’s dead ball specialist, bounced a corner on top of our cross bar. The Navy equalised in the 26th minute through Nadina Green, after another corner by Natalie had been headed forward by Taylor McGlashen.
Roxy Roberts left her area to kick clear from Kasha. Then Middlesex debutant keeper, Paige Horsnell saved Taylor’s header from Natalie’s corner and then a well directed long free kick from Natalie.
Half time score: Royal Navy 1 Middlesex 1
We regained the initiative from the start of the 2nd half. Roxy Roberts saved well at Ashley Cheatley’s feet and then tipped a high shot from Alissa Down over her crossbar.
We were now playing what manager, Craig Nicholson, considered to be our best football of the season. Another high drive from Alissa was diverted over the cross bar by Roxy. Ashley’s close range effort was blocked and Alissa put the rebound just over the top. Roxy, who was having a fine game, rushed out to kick clear from Ashley. Rachel hit the post from Anya Kinnane’s corner. We eventually regained the lead after 70 minutes through a superb volley from Ashley.
We kept up the pressure but a defensive mix up following a Navy breakout allowed Nadina Green to equalise in the 75th minute.
However, we continued to attack but several good passing movements came to nothing, thanks in no small measure to the acrobatic Roxy Roberts in the home goal. However, after 80 minutes, Chloe Sampson volleyed Anya Kinnane’s corner home to take the lead yet again.
Then a tremendous free kick by Alissa Down from at least 25 yards crashed against the Navy crossbar and rebounded off of the keeper for a corner.
The Royal Navy denied us the win when, after a frenzied goalmouth melee, Katie Shorter forced the ball home from close range. There was not even time to restart the match before the referee blew the final whistle.
Final score: Royal Navy 3 Middlesex 3
Roxanne Roberts, Sophie Perrin, Natalie Brierley, Annie Timoney, Taylor McGlashen, Katie Shorter, Grace O’Leary, Natalie Bavister, Nadina Green, Anthea Kaptein and Ciara Boylan.
Substitutes (repeat substitutions were used): Emily Bateman, Hen Goodrum, Hannah Canning and Rachel Carragher.
Team Manager: CPOPT Covey Head Coach: Kim Stenning General Manager: LPT Cronin
Paige Horsnell (Actonians), Sheryce Slater (Enfield Town), Chelsea Orridge-Golding (Tottenham Hotspur Development), Anya Kinnane (London Bees Development), Mara DeLuca (Queens Park Rangers), Rachel Blackburn (Denham United), Kasha Petit (Queens Park Rangers) (capt), Alissa Down (Denham United), Ashley Cheatley (Ashford Town (Middlesex)), Chloe Sampson (Queens Park Rangers Development) and Lavana Neufville (Ashford Town).
Substitutes (repeat substitutions were used): Daniel Smith (Enfield Town), Paige Laidler (Queens Park Rangers Development) and Kayleigh Currivan (Denham United).
Manager: Craig Nicholson Physio: Barbara Bivens.
Referee: Michael Clements Assistant Referees: Luke Pierce and Andrew Keay (all from the Army FA).
Lavana Neufville was awarded her Middlesex FA cap after the match, to commemorate her 6th appearance for the team.
We were made very welcome by Steve Johnson and his Royal Navy colleagues. It is always a pleasure to visit them.
Photos from the match are available below courtesy of matchday photographer, Chris Benn.