Newhaven Ladies 4 v 2 Bexhill United Ladies
Summer Small (14), Lauren Smith (40, 71), Chloe Winchester (86)
Newhaven Ladies secured their second league victory of the season at home to Bexhill United on Sunday winning a keenly contested match by four goals to two.
Summer Small opened the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour and the second goal just before half time came from Lauren Smith. Bexhill got a goal back shortly after the break before Smith restored the two goal cushion with twenty minutes left. Bexhill scored again with ten to go before Chloe Winchester killed the game off in the last five minutes.
The Dockers started quickly and inside the opening few minutes Winchester was played through on goal but was pulled back by the last defender who was lucky to only see a yellow card. The following free kick from Winchester was just over the bar. Summer Small then went close soon after with a right foot shot which went just wide before she did open the scoring when Paige Ripley squared the ball from the left to the edge of the box and Small hit a first time left foot shot into the bottom corner (1-0).
The game was not as free flowing as previous matches as both teams struggled to get into the swing of the game however Smith broke free on the left twice in the space of five minutes and sent in two brilliant crosses which just evaded the Dockers attackers in the box. However it was third time lucky just before half time when Smith again picked the ball up on the left and cut in and this time instead of crossing shot over the keeper and into the far corner to make it 2-0 at the break.
The second half saw the Dockers make a quick start and press Bexhill back and forcing a couple of early corners however it was Bexhill who scored next when they broke away down the right and managed to get through the home defence and pull the ball back and a first time finish left Annie Hills with no chance from close range to make it 2-1.
Bexhill with their tails up now pressed Newhaven back and started to dominate the next twenty minutes or so especially winning the midfield battle. Annie Hills had to be smartly off her line on a number of occasions to keep the score at 2-1 as Bexhill broke through the middle at will. Natalie Ring was shown a bizarre yellow card when the ball bounced up and hit her hand but the resulting free kick on the edge of the box went wide.
The home side made a number of substitutions to freshen things up as Katie Franks was brought on for Summer Small, Ellie O’Brien replaced Steph Harrison and Paige Fowler took Jade Palmer’s place. It seemed to lift the Dockers and a through ball from Ripley which looked destined to go out of play was chased by Winchester who worked hard to retrieve the ball and keep the attack alive and with a great ball across the box there was Smith who gladly tapped in to extend the lead by two goals again (3-1).
At this point Jess Watkins replaced Ripley for the final quarter of an hour and immediately won the ball in midfield and released Fowler and Smith on the left. They combined well with Winchester with a series of passes but the final shot from Winchester drifted wide of the post. Ellie Coade was next to receive a booking when she was shown a yellow for standing too close to a free kick.
Bexhill continued to battle though and with ten minutes left got another one back when Newhaven failed to clear an easy ball and with the defence out of position Bexhill broke through and shot past Hills to make it 3-2.
What could have been a nervy final ten minutes was settled when Franks did well on the right and sent in a perfect cross for Winchester who shot first time from just inside the box into the opposite corner to kill the game off 4-2 and secure the points for the home side.
Joint-Manager Alex Ladd was pleased with the three points; ‘We welcomed Bexhill for our third league game of the season and it proved to be another tough game against a well organised team who clearly had played together as a team for some time. It was very pleasing to see us adapt to the opposition. We started the game on the front foot and took control of the first 30 mins creating good opportunities and looking good defensively. We had to dig deep in the second half and weather some good pressure from Bexhill. We showed good resilience when we were up against it which is encouraging. It’s something we are learning to manage on the pitch and will put us in a good shape for the season. Great to see us scoring 4 quality goals, really pleased for Lauren getting on the scoresheet twice. Annie in goal had a fantastic game showing us just what she brings to the squad. The subs coming on brought us good energy which changed the game in the second half.
All in a good win for the team. We are finding out that the step up is as challenging as we thought. We are settling in nicely and showing it is where we belong. Well done ladies.’
Joint-Manager Andy Cook also added after the game; ‘ We weren’t quite at our best today but still managed to grind the result out and get the three points. We didn’t keep the ball as well as we normally do and lost our shape a bit second half but we deserved the points nevertheless. Not every game is going to be a spectacle and we are learning that every game at this level is going to be tough but it’s been a good start to the season and we are pleased with where we are at currently. Special mention to Annie in goal today. She didn’t have an awful lot to do first half but was a lot busier for a spell in the second half and stood strong on a number of occasions when she needed to. The goals we scored today were all very good which was pleasing with some nice build up play and good finishing. So now we look forward to the FA Cup next week at home to AFC Bournemouth which will hopefully be a really good game and another tough test for us.’
Team: Annie Hills, Steph Harrison (Ellie O’Brien), Paige Bashford-Robertson, Ellie Coade (c), Natalie Ring, Jas Godden, Summer Small (Katie Franks), Jade Palmer (Paige Fowler), Chloe Winchester, Paige Ripley (Jess Watkins), Lauren Smith
Unused sub: Chelsea Cook