Middlesex Women, last season’s winners, lost their grip on the Southern Counties Competition title, at Aveley on Wednesday evening last. Their Essex counterparts, who needed a point from the match to head the North Group and qualify for the final, made absolutely sure with a 3-2 victory.
Our congratulations are given to Essex, who were worthy group winners, having won all three of their matches.
They came out on top after a well contested and entertaining game. However, our condolences are due to Middlesex Manager, Craig Nicholson, who was without several key players, most notably his regular goalkeeper, through injury.
The match was evenly balanced territorially. Essex had 9 attempts on target to our 8.
Both sides played attractive football from the start and we mounted the first serious attack, when good approach work by Kasha Petit set up Anya Kinnane, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Then, at the other end, Holly Turner seized upon a loose ball and hit our goal post from the edge of the penalty box.
We enjoyed the better possession as the first half progressed. Alessandra Barreca’s penetrating run ended with Essex keeper, Alex Baker, stopping her shot. Alex then saved high up from Alissa Down and left her line to beat Lavana Neufville to a through ball.
However, our hosts took the lead in the 44th minute. Kinga Golebiowski saved Robyn Mooney’s shot but unfortunately the ball slipped from her grasp, allowing Zoe Rushen to net from close range.
Ashley Cheatley equalised in the 58th minute. She took the ball through the home defence in impressive style, played a one-two with Alessandra and netted from the return pass.
We then had two further chances. Ashley’s run through the defence was ended when Alex Baker dived at her feet and Alex made a high save from Samantha Gabian.
Robyn Mooney put Essex in front again in the 73rd minute, when she applied the finishing touch, after the ball had bounced around in our goalmouth for what seemed to be an age.
An excellent move involving Ashley and Kasha enabled Lavana to level the scores again in the 89th minute.
The winning goal for Essex came from a penalty in the 3rd minute of added time, awarded when our keeper was adjudged to have committed a foul. The successful taker was Kelly Weathall.
Essex: Alex Baker, Courtney Lumley, Lucy Jones, Hannah Porter (all Billericay Town), Abigail Fry (Hutton), Poppy Binding, Cery Adams, Holly Turner, Courtney Clarke (all AFC Basildon), Zoe Rushden and Robyn Moody (both Billericay Town).
Substitutes: Gemma Abela, Kelly Weathall, Mollie De Bell (all AFC Basildon), Sade Walters (Bowers & Pitsea) (all used) and Emily Mackler (goalkeeper) (Leigh Ramblers) (unused).
Manager: Kim Coster Coaches: Karen Stephanou and Howard Mackler Therapist: Katie Knowles.
Middlesex: Kinga Golebiowski (Actonians), Sheryce Slater (Enfield Town), Merle Redhead-Ling (QPR), Anya Kinnane, Danielle Maloney (both UCFB), Rachel Keightley (Denham United), Alessandra Barreca (Actonians), Sue Kumaning (Hounslow) (capt), Samantha Lanza Gabian (New London Lionesses), Meila D’Santos (Actonians) and Lavana Neufville (Ashford Town (Middlesex).
Substitutes: Ashley Cheatley, Alissa Down, Charlotte Baker, (all Ashford Town (Middlesex)) and Kasha Petit (QPR) (all used).
Manager: Craig Nicholson Assistant Manager: Jacob Ballheimer Physio: Katy Bignell.
Referee: Samuel Laidler Assistants: Lee Markwick and Matthew Bacon (all Essex FA).
a full selection of photography is available, courtesy of Chris benn