Crawley Wasps Reserves 1-0 Newhaven Ladies (HT 0-0)
The Dockers had their first action of 2019 away at league leaders Crawley Wasps Reserves but unfortunately came away empty handed despite a sterling performance.
The squad were down to the bare bones again due to illness and unavailability but the eleven who played can count themselves very unlucky to get nothing from the game.
Wasps started the strongest and for the opening twenty minutes or so were having most of the play kicking down the slope at Ewhurst. Wasps were lively in attack and managed to get in behind the Newhaven defence but Annie Hills was there to save anything goal bound.
The Dockers gradually began to get a foot hold on the game and found some joy down the left flank with Paige Fowler and Lauren Smith linking up well with Smith getting in behind the right full back and crossing dangerously into the Wasps box.
Paige Ripley and Chloe Winchester also linked up well with Ripley having a shot from range which went wide and then Smith had a shot which went just wide of the near post.
At the back Paige Bashford-Robertson and Jas Godden were getting to grips with the lively forwards and beginning to impose themselves winning several headers and timely interceptions.
As the half wore on Ellie Coade, Lucy Collinson and Steph Harrison started to control the midfield and get the team up the pitch however Wasps were still looking the more likely to score from dangerous set pieces and clever through balls in the channels. But the Dockers defence stood strong and each time they were turned the full backs of Fowler and Chelsea Cook were tracking back and preventing the cross coming in.
Wasps ended the half the strongest and minutes before half time had a good chance which saw the striker shoot just wide.
After the break it was the away side who started the brightest now kicking down the slope. An early corner from Smith found the head of Winchester who headed inches wide. The same combination again worked well with Winchester played in but the final shot was blocked.
At the other end Wasps broke quickly and perhaps should have scored with only Hills to beat but the shot was just over the bar.
A pulsating game was just waiting for the all-important first goal and Smith thought she had got it when her deep cross shot from the left sailed over everyone and bounced off the cross bar. Wasps then went up the other end and broke through down the left and cut in but the final shot was just wide.
The Dockers then had the best chance of the game as Ripley played Winchester into the penalty box and as she checked back a late challenge bundled her over and the referee awarded a penalty. Up stepped Winchester but her spot kick was high over the bar to keep the game all square.
Within minutes Wasps broke forward and burst through the midfield and played a perfect pass beyond the Newhaven defence who stopped as there was a dog and owner on the pitch in the penalty area but the ref waved play on and the alert Wasps striker went through and made no mistake in the bottom corner to give the home side a controversial lead. Despite protests from the Newhaven players the goal was given (1-0).
This seemed to spur the Dockers on even more and they now threw everything at the home side. A Smith corner was headed goalwards by Collinson and looked destined for the top corner but the keeper made a brilliant save. Then Winchester had a chance saved. Another corner from the left from Smith was cleared out to Cook outside of the box and she sent it back deep into the box and again Collinson headed at the goal but again the keeper was in the right place.
The Dockers kept pressing and in the final moments Winchester was again brought down in the box and another penalty awarded. This time Ripley stepped up but her low spot kick was well saved by the Wasps keeper and the full time whistle sounded moments later.
An excellent game from two very good sides that could only be split by a controversial goal.
The Newhaven management were bitterly disappointed but also very pleased by the performance. Alex Ladd said after the game; ‘This was a great game of football. Regrettably we were unable to pick up a point or 3 but our performance was evidence of the progress we are making as a team. Sadly we went with only 12 players, several of whom played through the pain barrier, but the ladies showed what a classy team they are. Wasps edged the opening 30 minutes but we finished the first half strongly. This level of performance continued into the second half as Lucy and Ellie got control of the centre of the park. We began to create more chances and push the Crawley team deeper and deeper. Unfortunately, a controversial decision to allow play to continue with a dog on the pitch resulted in the match winning goal, which was disappointing. It was hard on the back four who had performed really well, especially when you consider three of them were 18 or under. We had our chances to win the game but failed to make the most of the penalties. It was a tough day for the ladies, the result not reflecting their quality display. This has been the story of a few games recently but we are moving in the right direction. Hopefully we can play as well this Sunday when we welcome Crawley Wasps back to the Trafalgar Ground and have a few subs on the bench to freshen things up. Well done ladies, once again you make me proud to be part of your journey.‘
Andy Cook agreed with Ladd: ’That was a tough game and really hard to take that we get nothing from it. The ladies were distraught after the game as they gave everything and deserved at least a point. The two missed penalties were obviously costly but the goal which split the sides should never have been given. That was really disappointing. When a dog and it’s owner is on the pitch in the penalty area where the opposition are attacking I would have thought it was sensible to stop the game? We unfortunately did stop expecting a whistle which never came and Wasps took advantage and scored. Shame really as it was a really good and enjoyable game between two evenly matched sides. Every single player was excellent today and gave everything and played some very good football . We created some good chances but fair play to the Wasps keeper who had an excellent game. I feel for Chloe and Paige Ripley who were big enough to take the penalties but it just wasn’t to be. It does however give us an extra incentive to have another go at them next Sunday as we know we are well worthy of getting something from the game.’
Team: Annie Hills, Chelsea Cook, Paige Fowler, Ellie Coade (c), Paige Bashford-Robertson, Jas Godden, Steph Harrison, Lucy Collinson, Chloe Winchester, Paige Ripley, Lauren Smith
Unused sub: Katie Bothwell