Actonians Ladies overcame Crawley Wasps, currently joint leaders of the Premiership, in a thrilling second round Women’s FA Cup tie at Rectory Park on Sunday last, 1st December.
Actonians were well worth their victory in an exciting and competitive match, which was well controlled by referee Mike Heavey. Both sides served up some entertaining football and produced a pleasing contrast in styles. Crawley played an attractive close passing game while Actonians frequently opened up the visiting defence with long across-field balls.
With both sides testing each other out, the opening stages were played mainly in midfield and there was not much early goalmouth action. A good header from Actonian’s Justine Buckmire-Monro was tipped over the crossbar by visiting custodian, Frankie Gibbs and a long-range effort by Wasps’ Rachel Palmer didn’t miss by very much.
Actonians went ahead in the 17th minute through Alessandra Barreca, whose superb shot into the top corner of the goal, from more than 25 yards, gave Frankie Gibbs no chance.
Chances occurred more frequently as the game progressed. Crawley’s Emma Plewa was released by Tash Stephens but hit a rising shot narrowly wide. Then Alessandra Barreca picked up a fine through ball from Meila D’Santos and tested Frankie Gibbs with a low angled shot.
Wasps were awarded a penalty for a push during a hectic skirmish in the Actonians box. The spot kick was converted by skipper Naomi Cole to level the scores.
An unfortunate clash of heads occurred in the Wasps goalmouth in the moments leading up to half time, involving Actonians’ Lafe Uche and Crawley keeper, Frankie Gibbs. Although Lafe recovered reasonably quickly, Frankie received prolonged on-field attention and was too dazed to continue. Naomi Cole took her place between the posts.
Score at half time: Actonians 1 Crawley Wasps 1
The home side won a penalty in the 3rd minute of the second half when Darcey James tripped the ever-dangerous Alessandra Barreca. Alessandra took the kick and hit the ball high into the top corner of the net wide of Naomi Cole’s reach.
A spell of Actonian’s pressure followed. The nearest to scoring were Alessandra, whose shot from around 35 yards rebounded off of a post and Jessica Byrne, who fired narrowly too high after working her way through the Wasp’s defence.
Wasps broke away and Kinga Golebiowski made a good save from Charlotte Owen.
In the 80th minute Charlotte Owen hit Emma Plewa’s cross home from close range but was adjudged offside. This incident lead to Megan Stow being cautioned for dissent.
Two minutes later Jessica Byrne’s long ball sent Meila D’Santos on a run up the right wing. Meila cut in and brilliantly hit her shot home, over Naomi Cole, to make the score 3-1.
In the final moments of the match, Naomi made a good leaping save to prevent a long shot from Meila D’Santos entering the net underneath the bar.
ACTONIANS: Kinga Golebiowski, Catherine Murphy (capt), Ashleigh Ward, Meila D’Santos, Naomi Graham, Micaela Lopes, Alessandra Barreca, Rhiannon Ishmael, Lafe Uche, Jessica Byrne and Justin Buckmire-Monro.
Substitutes: Sharon Odofin (for Jessica Byrne 89 mins), Simone Wan (for Rhiannon Ishmael (89 mins) and Jennifer Laidlaw (not used).
Manager: Danny Harrigan Assistant Manager: Sinead Friel Physio: Katy Taylor.
CRAWLEY WASPS: Frankie Gibbs, Rachel Palmer, Jenny Drury, Darcey James, Charlotte Young, Emma Plewa, Charlotte Owen, Sam Pittuck, Tash Stephens, Naomi Cole (capt) and Hope Nash.
Substitutes: Megan Stow (for Frankie Gibbs 44 mins), Niamh Stephenson (for Hope Nash (74 mins) and Maria Ledezma-Viso (for Jenny Drury 74 mins).
Manager: Paul Walker Assistant Manager: Dave Cole Coaches: Mike Gardner and Chat Perera,
Referee: Mike Heavey Assistant Referees: Mervyn Hughes and Simon Cudner.
Middlesex FA photographer, Chris Benn was, as usual, extremely active.