South East met West as AFC Basildon came from behind twice to knock Southampton Women’s FC out of the FAWNL Cup.
With the weather wreaking havoc across the country, claiming many games in the process, a waterlogged Romsey Town pitch meant a late change of venue, Southampton Women’s doing well to secure an alternative to ensure the game was played.
The visitors made just one change to the side that saw them secure a comfortable 8-2 victory to progress into the next round of the FA Cup, while Southampton Women’s, who have enjoyed a very strong season to date, made five changes to their starting eleven.
Southampton got the game underway amid damp and windy conditions in Basingstoke.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested, with both teams creating chances, the ‘keepers and their backlines besting their attacking counterparts to keep the game goalless.
An early Southampton free-kick came to nothing and Yeates was denied by some resolute defending before Turner was unable to test Kite at the other end.
Further chances were created, but once again Kite and Bolland came out on top, Vokes first denied brilliantly by Blues’ shot-stopper, followed by saves from England’s U19 Rose Kite to maintain parity after 25 minutes.
With Southampton looking to exploit space down the wings, the ball found its way to Emily Wernham whose precision defence-splitting cross was met by Vokes to prod the ball into Bolland’s net giving the hosts the lead in the 29th minute.
Shortly after Rose Kite pulled off an incredible save, before Basildon eventually levelled through a fantastic Holly Turner strike from 20-yards just before the interval.
The referee blew his whistle to conclude the first half with the score one a piece.
Blues made a tactical adjustment at half-time, switching to 4-4-2; a decision that proved to be immediately effective for the Essex side.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half was mostly controlled by Basildon, winning aerial battles and pressing from the front limiting Southampton’s options to play out from the back, frustrating Kite when looking to distribute.
Turner, playing with confidence and proving difficult for Southampton’s backline to handle, cut inside on her left foot before unleashing a powerful shot that was met by a huge Kite hand, an unbelievable save to keep the scores level.
But for all the Blues’ hard work, it was Southampton who survived the early pressure and started to get a foothold in the game to begin to create chances of their own.
After 25 minutes of the second half, Southampton looked to have restored their lead through Lauren Clark before Mollie Debell cleared the ball off the line, the defender showing great awareness and dexterity to deny a certain goal.
Moments later and Laura Vokes connected with Samuels’ cross to score her, and Southampton’s, second goal of the afternoon.
Rose Kite did brilliantly to tip the ball onto the bar but was helpless to prevent Sophie Spencer-Webb from following up, the 17-year-old side-footing the ball into the back of the net to restore parity once again in the 78th minute.
With fewer than 10 minutes remaining, the referee adjudged a Basildon player to have handled the ball in the area and pointed to the spot.
Jane Yeates stepped up and struck the ball well, but Bolland was equal to it – a superb save to keep things all square late on.
Into the 91st minute with extra-time looking likely, substitute Courtney Clarke swung in a dangerous corner that looped high into the air and fell to a Basildon player, who managed to bundle the ball into the back of the net through a crowded six-yard box.
AFC Basildon progress to the Second Round of the FAWNL League Cup.
Post match thoughts
- An excellent game of football, an emotional back-and-forth, and plenty of drama. Other than a dog or squirrel on the pitch, I’m not sure what else the game could’ve had. Cup football at its finest!
- My Player of the Match was Holly Turner. If it wasn’t for the heroics of Kite she would have scored more, but her general play caused Southampton’s backline a lot of problems. Lots of energy, backed her ability to create chances, and contributed with a goal of her own.
- Although five goals were scored, both keepers did exceptionally well, pulling off a number of very good saves. Rose Kite was Southampton’s best player in my opinion. Very impressive performance.
- AFC Basildon showed a lot of spirit and fight to get back into the game twice, and eventually go on to win it. Heads didn’t drop. For a team as young as Blues’ that has gone through – still going through? – a transition period, they genuinely impressed me. Especially against a strong and experienced Southampton team.
- Ref was so-so.