The preliminaries


Jim Taylor

The Vitality Women’s FA Cup commenced on Sunday, 10th September, with the First Qualifying Round.   Your roving reporting team decided to cover the match between Headstone Manor Ladies and Tilehurst Panthers Women.   We chose well.   Headstone Manor’s home ground is Parkfield Sports and Social Club, located at Saddlers Mead Recreation Ground, a very pleasant verdant setting with superb facilities.

The match was contested on a very hot afternoon and although cloud cover brought some relief as the match progressed, the playing conditions were challenging and the mid-half drinks-breaks were welcomed.   Nevertheless, the teams provided an entertaining and evenly contested game with the result in the balance until the final whistle.   The game was decided in favour of Headstone Manor, by a single goal, scored in the 35th minute of the first half.

The early play was tentative with both sides struggling to establish a rhythm.   Consequentially defences dominated and there was little goalmouth action.  

Headstone’s Rosie Watts fastened onto a loose ball but good covering by Lisa Downes forced her wide.

Good covering by Lisa Downes forces Rosie Watts wide

Headstone’s Aimee Shaw won the ball wide on the right and shot low across the goal.

Deanna Cane’s shot for Panthers, from around 30 yards, was wide.

Manor keeper, Gemma Day beat Thea Wraight to Leah Why’s cross.

Rebekah Higgins headed Katie Phillipson’s cross home, to put Headstone Manor ahead in the 35th minute.

Katie Phillipson crosses and Rebekah Higgins heads home

Gemma Day, got to a through ball ahead of Leah Why.

Panthers’ Tilly Waight played a good ball inside the covering defender to release Thea Wraight.   Gemma Day saved the situation by falling onto the ball.

Gemma Day advances and saves the situation

Score at half time: Headstone Manor 1   Tilehurst Panthers 0

The action intensified in the second half with the visitors pushing strongly for an equaliser.

Gemma saved Deanna Cane’s close-range header from a cross from the left.

Deanna Cane's (9) header is saved by Gemma Day

Sydney Goodwin hit a high ball into the visitors’ penalty area but the keeper collected the ball ahead of Ava Hobson.

Maalani George collects the ball ahead of Ava Hobson (18)

Deanna Cane’s shot for Panthers from 25 yards was just too high.

Tilly Waight released Thea Wraight, who broke into the box and survived a robust tackle, before her shot was intercepted by Katie Phillipson.

Katie Phillipson (16) intercepts Thea Wraight's (16) shot

Rebakah Higgins was thwarted by the advancing Maalani George.

Leah Why found Thea with a good cross but the latter’s shot was off target.   Leah produced another dangerous cross but Thea couldn’t reach it.

Katie Phillipson set up Rebekah Higgins with a well-judged ball into the box but Fleur Mathieson made a good interception.

Rebekah Higgins made a dangerous break but her final ball didn’t reach Becky Rafferty.

Jade Doherty cleverly worked her way clear.   She set up Amber Walsh, who released Becky Rafferty.    Unfortunately, Becky’s cross went behind the goal.

Rebekah Higgins worked her way through the visiting defence and was fouled outside the box.   Her lobbed freekick was taken high up by Maalani George.

During the closing minutes of added time a lob from the right by Leah Why looked goal-bound but agonisingly for Panthers, the ball bounced just wide of the open net.

Leah Why's lob from the right goes over the keeper and bounces wide of the goal

Full time score: Headstone Manor 1   Tilehurst Panthers 0

Referee Tom Simmons had a very good match, ably supported by his Assistant Referees.


Headstone Manor Ladies: Gemma Day, Katie Phillipson, Sydney Goodwin, Elena Torroni (Ellie Byrne 80 mins), Ujevara Breznica, Aimee Shaw (Becky Rafferty 74), Jade Doherty (capt), Amber Walsh, Rebekah Higgins, Rosie Watts (Kirsty Wilson 57) and Ava Hobson

Unused substitute: Ruth Paterson

Manager: Paul Sharpe    Assistant Manager: Andy Perren.

Tilehurst Panthers Women: Maalani George, Leah Why, Tilly Waight, Deanna Cane, Rhianna Langham (capt), Keris Hunt, Charlotte Wheeler, Thea Wraight, Jacqueline Asamoah, Lisa Downes and Fleur Mathieson.

Manager: Amy Why   Coach: Rob Page

Referee: Tom Simmons    Assistant Referees: Reda Imane and Kyle Lake-Bryan

Headstone Manor will host Camden & Islington United in the Second Qualifying Round on Sunday, 1st October. 

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