The second round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup was contested on Sunday last, 28th November and our roving team of Chris Benn (County photographer) and Jim Taylor (reporter) covered the match at the Robert Parker Stadium between Ashford Town (Middlesex) Ladies and Oxford United Women.
This was almost certainly the most important match in the Ashford Town Ladies’ history. They had never reached the second round of the FA Cup before and faced a very good team from two tiers above them, at tier 3 in the women’s football pyramid.
They rose to the challenge magnificently and played with skill, purpose and determination to record a well deserved 3-0 victory. Their team spirit and commitment shone throughout and the brand of football that they produced was a credit to Manager Will Boye.
Ashford Town had entered the competition at the 2nd Qualifying Round stage and so far had beaten Highworth Town Ladies (Home 25-0), New London Lionesses (Away 2-1) and Sutton United Women (Away 6-0). Oxford United had come in at the 2nd Round stage and had accounted for Fulham (Away 3-0).
Both teams made a tentative start. Kalani Peart had the first shot on goal for Ashford but was too high. Oxford’s Beth Lumsden robbed a defender and set up an attack which produced a corner.
Ashford went ahead in the 11th minute through Ashley Cheatley, who collected the ball, accelerated into the penalty area past several defenders and slotted the ball into the net.
Ashley Cheatley opens the scoring
The Tangerines grew in confidence and stayed on the offensive. Paris Sercombe, the Oxford keeper left her penalty area to kick clear before Lavana Neufville could reach a through ball. Kalani Peart worked her way in along the visitors’ goal line to force a corner. Alissa Down tried a shot from long range but slipped in the act of shooting and fired wide.
Sophie Schults saves high up from Sarah King...
At the other end, Ashford keeper, Sophie Shults turned a high shot from Sarah King over her cross bar.
Ashford continued to put the visiting defence under pressure and Jade Johnson finished a good move with a shot which Paris Sercombe palmed away. Paris then beat Ashley to a perceptive through ball from Lavana. Lavana and Alissa both had attempts on goal turned away for corners. Then Paris just got to another through ball, ahead of Ashley.
Oxford had a good chance when Emily Wallace cut out an Ashford pass and set up Beth Lumsden, who shot across the goalmouth.
The Tangerines were more than a match for Oxford throughout the first period. Many of the spectators expected their highly rated opponents to get into their stride and make things difficult as the half progressed. However, this did not happen.
Half time score: Ashford Town (Middlesex) 1 Oxford United 0
However, United started the second half strongly and enjoyed their best period of the match. Sarah King was particularly dangerous and made several dangerous runs. Sophie made good saves from her and from Beth Lumsden.
...and low down from Beth Lumsden
Ashford got back into the match and in the 63rd minute they doubled their lead. Ashley ran through the defence again and crossed for Lavana to net from close range.
Lavana converts Ashley's low cross for Ashford's second goal
The Tangerines then had some more defending to do. Sophie saved low down and a messy goalmouth situation was dealt with by a defensive header over the cross bar.
Then Ashley connected with a long ball from Rozalia Sitarz but the keeper saved her header.
Ashley wins the ball and sets off on a run...
Captain, Alissa Down scored Ashford’s third goal in the 82nd minute, with a great header, which went in off of the post. Again, it was Ashley Cheatley’s run and cross which set up the goal.
...and her cross is headed home by Alissa for Ashford's third goal...
...and Jade, Lavana, Alissa and Ashley celebrate
Referee Nigel Owen, whose competent performance had contributed to a splendid game, brought the proceedings to an end after 5 minutes of additional time, amongst scenes of jubilation from the Ashford Town players, management and supporters. It was a memorable victory to which they had all contributed.
The celebrations after the final whistle
Final Score: Ashford Town (Middlesex) 3 Oxford United 0
ASHFORD TOWN (MIDDLESEX): Sophie Shults, Anya Kinnane, Ellen Clarabut, Charlotte Baker (Alice Frise 84 mins), Kalani Peart (Laura Huse 86), Chloe Farrell (Jordanne Hoesh- Atkins (46), Rozalia Sitarz, Jade Johnson, Alissa Down (capt), Lavana Neufville and Ashley Cheatley.
Unused substitute: Lucy Potter.
OXFORD UNITED: Paris Sercombe, Sophie Baker, Cat Beaver (capt), Daisy Ackerman (Nicole Ley 73 mins), Riva Casley, Sarah King, Beth Lumsden, Hannah Mackenzie, Daisy McLachlan, Lily Stevens (Gemma Sims 72) and Emily Wallace (Molly Sellwood 90).
Unused substitutes: Megan Alexander, Billy French, Rose Kite and Merrick Will.
REFEREE: Nigel Owen ASSISTANT REFEREES: Matt Leary and Steve Ferris.
Unfortunately, none of the other Middlesex clubs involved in this round progressed to Round 3.
Hounslow shared a goalless draw at home to Clapton CFC but lost the penalty shoot-out 1-3.
Queens Park Rangers lost 0-3 at home to Billericay Town.
Actonians were losing 0-2 at Gillingham, when the match had to be abandoned in the 88th minute, when one of their players collapsed and required an ambulance. Happily the player, Anne-Marie Pejcic, was quickly released from hospital. The FA have awarded the match to Gillingham.
We thank Chris Benn & Jim Taylor for giving up their Sunday Afternoon to cover this match for us, as ever Chris & Jim have selected their 10 favourite images from the match that are displayed throughout the report. There is also a full image gallery available courtesy of Chris Benn - we look forward to their coverage of the upcoming 3rd Round tie between Ashford Town (Middx) & London City Lionesses.
Chris & Jim's Picks
Full album courtesy of Chris Benn