The Middlesex FA women’s team completed its Southern Counties Competition programme at Uxbridge FC on Wednesday evening, with a convincing 5-1 win over Sussex. Our players have performed excellently this season and were unbeaten, recording wins in 3 of their 4 matches. The only points dropped were at Portsmouth, against the Royal Navy, who equalised with the last kick of the game. That goal almost certainly cost us the title. Manager Craig Nicholson is justifiably pleased with the performances of his team, who have produced attractive as well as effective football.
Although Wednesday’s match was a high scoring one, all of the goals came in the first 30 minutes. Ashley Cheatley weaved her way through the middle of the visiting defence and stroked the ball home to open the scoring in the 3rd minute. Then, in the 14th minute, she volleyed our second goal from Alissa Down’s corner.
We maintained our pressure and Kasha Petit fired just wide from a promising position. However, Lavana Neufville hit our third goal in the 19th minute. Alissa, making her 30th appearance for Middlesex, was again instrumental, as her through ball set up Lavana.
Sussex pulled a goal back almost immediately through Ariana Fleischman, who was their most influential player. Our keeper, Paige Horsnell attempted to dribble the ball in the penalty area, lost possession and was stranded when Ariana netted,
Sussex keeper Nina Wilson, who had a very good match despite the score, saved well from Chloe Sampson, following a penetrating run by Ashley. However, Ashley picked up a mishit clearance and completed her hat trick in the 24th minute.
Lavana completed the scoring in the 30th minute by heading home another corner from the excellent Alissa.
Ariana Fleischman was twice, in quick succession, denied by good Middlesex defending. Paige Horsnell performed a diving save at her feet, when she was through on goal and then Rachel Keighley made a crucial interception.
Half time score: Middlesex 5 Sussex 1
Sussex keeper, Nina Wilson performed really well. She dealt efficiently with a number of dangerous high crosses, made several diving saves and went down fearlessly at the feet of advancing attackers. She was the biggest factor in keeping the second half scoreless.
Rae Roberts had an early chance for Middlesex when she picked up a loose ball but placed her shot wide.
After home goalkeeper, Paige Horsnell had used her feet to save from Ariana Fleischman, who covered an enormous amount of ground trying to create chances for her team, Nina Wilson made two particularly good saves. She saved at very close range, at the foot of her post from Kasha Petit and then pushed a point-blank effort from Lavana over her crossbar.
Another close-range save by Nina was a prelude to a hectic goalmouth scramble containing a succession of blocked shots until the referee stopped play because of a facial injury to Sussex’s Michelle Ward. Michelle had to leave the field and Sussex had to play one short for around 15 minutes. This situation was brought about by the fact that, because of late withdrawals, Sussex could only field 11 players, so no replacements were available.
We had further chances in the latter stages. A good cross into the goal area by Lavana eluded Ashley. A fine move involving Kasha and Ashley finished with another close-range save by Nina Wilson, from Lavana. At the other end, Ariana went close for Sussex with a cross-shot just wide of our far post.
The match was impeccably handled by referee Fernando Costache and his assistants.
Final score: Middlesex 5 Sussex 1
Paige Horsnell (Actonians), Sheryce Slater (Enfield Town), Niamh Magill (London Bees Development), Paige Laidler (QPR Development), Mara DeLuca (QPR), Rachel Keightley (Denham United), Kasha Petit (QPR) (capt), Alissa Down (Denham United), Ashley Cheatley (Ashford Town (Middlesex)), Chloe Sampson (QPR Development) and Lavana Neufville (Ashford Town).
Substitutes (repeat substitutions were used): Daniel Smith (Enfield Town), Kayleigh Currivan (Denham United), Rae Roberts (QPR) and Nuala McKevitt.
Manager: Craig Nicholson Assistant Manager: Kayleigh Saunders Physio: Katy Bignell.
Nina Wilson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Claire Anderson (Eastbourne Town), Jade Elphick, Ariana Fleischman (both Crawley Wasps), Catherine Hyland (Eastbourne Town) (capt), Sarah Killick-Bird (Oakwood), Kellie Larkin (Lewes), Bikanca Pilgrim AFC Varndeanians), Naomi Robinson (Worthing), Michelle Ward (Crawley Wasps) and Nicole Webley (Worthing United).
Manager: Nici Rice Coaches: Ian Hickley-Smith and Lee Hayes Assistant Coach; Carly Farrell.
Referee: Fernando Costache Assistant Referees: Mervyn Hughes and Dean Baily (all Middlesex FA).
After the match, Southern Counties Competition Chairman, David Richbell and Vice President, Len Cordell presented the runners-up mementoes to the Middlesex players.
It was, as always, a pleasure to entertain our friends from Sussex and our thanks are gratefully given to Uxbridge FC for their excellent hospitality and the use of their fine facilities.
Photos from the match can be found here courtesy of match day photographer, Chris Benn.