FAWNL Southern Premier Division Round-up: Captain Cole scores goals

Six games were due to be played at the weekend until FC Rain intervened, holding the division to a 3-3 draw.

Of those that survived the weather, current league leaders Crawley Wasps hosted Oxford United, in-form Plymouth travelled to Milton Keynes, and Yeovil welcomed Welsh side Cardiff to Dorchester.

Wasps sting U’s to remain top

In their second meeting of the season, Oxford travelled to Crawley in hopes of avenging an earlier cup defeat.

The U’s began the more positive team, with Hines narrowly missing from range, and then volleying an effort over the bar, before Faye Rabson was inches away from latching onto Charlotte Owen’s cross at the other end.

Both sides continued to create chances, and Charlotte Owen was once again involved for Crawley, this time pulling her shot wide of the target from 15 yards.

Oxford came close through a set piece when Megan Stow was inches away from turning the ball into her own net following Williams’ free-kick.

Ultimately though, it was 45 minutes of frustration as both sides failed to capitalise on good chances.

United broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half, Sims rising above everyone else to meet Williams’ corner to give Oxford the lead.

Crawley was awarded a penalty in the 58th minute when Hines was adjudged to have fouled Rabson in the box, Naomi Cole firing low past Watson from 12 yards to restore parity.

Two further goals in quick succession for the home side would turn the game on its head, the first through Rabson after 58 minutes, followed by a Darcy James header three minutes later, the Wasps’ number 5 getting the best of the U’s defence to convert from a corner.

Frankie Gibbs was sent off after she lashed out, hitting Cheryl Williams in the face.

With ten players and little time remaining, Wasps were able to remain resolute and secure 3 points.

The win strengthens Crawley’s lead at the top, while condemning title rivals Oxford to their first league defeat of the season.

Crawley Wasps 3-1 Oxford United

Attendance: 125

Argyle make it five on the bounce

For the second time in as many games over 1,000 supporters flocked to Stadium MK to support The Dons as they welcomed high-flying Plymouth.

Plymouth opened the scoring after 20 minutes, Rebecca Dandridge breaking the line before finishing calmly past Kirby to give the visitors the lead.

Southern Premier top scorer, Natasha Knapman, doubled the Pilgrims’ lead four minutes later, finishing to give Argyle their second of the day, and Knapman’s eleventh of the season.

The deficit was halved after 37 minutes when Katie Middleton inadvertently headed the ball into her own net following a corner.

Plymouth began the second half at a blistering pace and found the net within minutes, Helen Bleazard finishing excellently to retore a two-goal lead.

Jessie Jones made it four for the visitors just before the hour mark, a thunderous effort beating Emma Kirby from 25-yards to almost certainly secure the points for Argyle.

MK Dons were unfortunate not to find the net during the second half, but it was a clinical Plymouth side that would extend their lead even further, Kayley Lane finishing in the 89th minutes to make it five in a row for Plymouth.

With 5 goals on the bounce, finding the net 26 times in the process, Argyle has gone from looking like dark horses to genuine contenders.

MK Dons 1-5 Plymouth Argyle

Attendance: 1,109

Honours even in Dorchester

Yeovil began the season with great promise but were winless in four weeks heading into Sunday’s fixture against an in-form Cardiff side who had strung together 5 victories in a row.

Sarah Wiltshire was unable to convert from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute, putting her shot wide for the scores to remain level.

Five minutes later and Cardiff took the lead through Gwen Davies’ calm finish following excellent build play from Grace Horrell.

Aldridge almost levelled for the hosts, before Katie Jones made no mistake after Cardiff failed to deal with a corner, Jones smashing the ball into the net from eight yards to draw level.

The game concluded with the scores even, a result that isn’t ideal for either team as they looked to keep up with the division pace-setters.

The result means Cardiff occupy 3rd place, while Yeovil sit 5th in the FAWNL Southern Premier Division.

Yeovil Town 1-1 Cardiff City

Attendance: 229

How things stand

Oxford United Women vs Crawley Wasps Match Report

Naomi Cole was once again the U’s tormentor as she scored another late FAWNL Cup goal.

In blistering heat at Court Place Farm Wasps kicked-off to get the game underway.

In a game that started with a surprisingly high tempo, with both teams keen to impose their will early, it was the home side who settled quicker and began to find a little rhythm; Haynes shooting from distance and then Hines attempting the same minutes later, both failing to test Frankie Gibbs.

A matter of minutes into the game and the players were already visually showing the effects of the intense heat.

Locked in a closely contested midfield battle, neither side had created any genuine chances, but their application was good, with Wasps attempting to play out from back through the thirds, and Oxford applying an exhausting high press.

Crawley’s best chance to create an opportunity came after 15 minutes when Cole pressured Haynes, who took the Row-Z approach and smashed the ball from danger.

After around 20 minutes both teams were forced into making changes: Searle replaced Kirby for Oxford, while Young replaced Pittuck for Wasps.

After a short water break the game resumed.

Around 25 minutes into the game and Wasps forced their first corner, Sercombe climbing above Russell to gather the ball well.

The game was largely contested in the middle of the park, and while there was nothing too penetrating from either side, it was developing into an intriguing contest.

Nearing the end of the half, Oxford won several corners: Stephenson coming off the front post well to win a commanding header, Gibbs climbing high and opting to punch. Crawley dealt with the pressure well, the U’s unable to take advantage.

Crawley’s best chance of the half came just before half-time. A through ball found the feet of Cole, met by a scrambling Sercombe, the U’s keeper did just enough to distract the forward who put the ball wide.

Oxford had one final chance of the half when good work down the right from Roberts saw her find Johns in space, whose cross struck a Crawley defender, almost finding her own net as a result.

The referee blew his whistle to conclude the first-half that saw neither Gibbs or Sercombe really tested. 45 minutes with very few genuine chances.

Half-time: Oxford United Women 0 – 0 Crawley Wasps

The second-half recommenced and familiarity along with it, a half-chance from Lancaster from distance comfortably held by Gibbs, Crawley playing out from the back: Palmer, to Young, to Stephens.

As the match wore on and legs began to tire it became a game of attrition: the players versus the unbelievable heat, the 3G pitch doing the players no favours.

Oxford had rarely looked troubled, and other than a few routine catches, Sercombe had little to do, but as the game entered the last 20 minutes, Crawley began to find more space; Beaver showing good strength to see off any danger, Ellie Searle making a well-timed challenge to deny substitute Ledezma-Viso, Nash finding space to make bursting runs. Crawley benefiting from fresh legs and were now enjoying their best period of the game.

Wasps almost made the breakthrough with 18 minutes to go when a concise pass from Nash found a forward in the box, who dragged her shot wide of Sercombe’s right post.

Oxford also began making use of some of the gaps appearing down the left-hand side, Seale and Bent combining well before Bent’s dangerous cross was headed out by Russell.

With five minutes to go extra-time looked likely, but a defensive mistake saw Naomi Cole through on goal and finish smartly past Sercombe. Cole -who scored late against the U’s in the FAWNL Cup last season to rescue the game and deny Oxford the win – was once again Wasps’ hero.


Oxford United 0 – 1 Crawley Wasps

Late into the game and Oxford tried to mount pressure, attempting a number of shots from range, but with time against them Crawley managed to see the game out as the referee blew the final whistle on a very closely contested fixture.

Wasps progress to the first round of the FAWNL Cup, while Oxford enter the FAWNL Plate competition.

Both teams return to league action at the weekend as Oxford hope to bounce back when they travel to Watford, while Crawley host bottom side Hounslow.

Teams

Oxford: Sercombe, Roberts, Clifford, Beaver, Kirby (Searle), Hines, Haynes (c), Johns, Lancaster (Baker), Bent, Timms (Moore).

Wasps: Gibbs, Russell, Palmer, Pittuck (Young), James, Rabson, Owen, Stephens (Ledezma-Viso), Stevenson (Nash), Cole (c), Flieschman.

Oxford United Women vs Crawley Wasps Match Preview

Oxford United finally get their season underway when they welcome fellow Southern Premier side, and last season’s FAWNL Cup finalists, Crawley Wasps, to Court Place Farm this Sunday in the FAWNL Cup.

After an opening weekend of contrasting emotions – Wasps experienced the elation of winning their first fixture after gaining promotion, while Oxford had to manage the disappointment of a late postponement – the two sides meet in a repeat of last season’s FAWNL Cup competition, and although much has changed for both participants, it is expected to be another closely contested fixture.


The U’s enjoyed a near-perfect pre-season, drawing with London Bees before beating Southampton Women’s FC, Wolves, Abingdon United, and Championship side, Lewes. Goals and positives aplenty, preparations have been a stark contrast to the turbulent pre-season the club experienced a year ago, with Liam Gilbert’s side set to begin the season in a very good place as a club.

Bolstered by the re-signing of last season’s Southern Premier Golden Boot winner, Emily Allen, who is available for selection at the weekend, Oxford have recruited very well during the close season, bringing in Ellie Kirby, Georgia Clifford, Ellie Searle, Brogan Moore, Daisy McLachlan, and Aimee Watson, while Kayleigh Hines returns from a long-term injury, and U16s standout, Carly Johns, makes the step up to the senior squad.

Oxford have experienced a few departures, the most notable being Ellie Noble (Lewes), Lucy Thomas and Flo Fyfe (both London City Lionesses) but overall, the squad is much stronger than at the same time last season, with genuine competition for places across the pitch.

Having been forced to wait an additional week, Oxford will be keen to avenge the loss, and more importantly, start the 2019/20 campaign off strongly.


After a successful promotion campaign that saw Crawley reach the final of the FAWNL Cup and win the league by an impressive 11 points, the West Sussex based side have managed to maintain the momentum that carried them through last season, beating several teams during pre-season, including Championship side London Bees, though their most important victory to date came last weekend, at the expense of Plymouth. A positive introduction to life in the Southern Premier Division.

Paul Walker was understandably busy during the summer as he prepared for life in Tier 3, making a number of signings including winger Tash Stephens, Maria Ledezma-Viso, Sam Pittuck, Hope Nash, Charlotte Owen, Rebecca Carter, and ex-Northern Ireland defender Alex Newman, who returned to football after 3 years out due to injury.

As expected, there was also a number of departures with Amy Green, Millie Carter, Abbie Measures, Amy Woollard, and long-serving Suzanne Davies departing the club.

Wasps travel to Oxfordshire hoping to build on a good result last weekend while knowing a victory against league contenders Oxford United would make a real statement.


Several narratives could be applied to this game: a rematch of last season, a head-to-head of two sides likely to be fighting for the very top places in the division, an early litmus test of sorts, but above all else, it should be a footballing spectacle between to very good teams.

The winners progress to the next round, while the losers are entered into the FAWNL Plate competition.