Worthing Women exited the Vitality Women’s FA Cup at the qualifying third round stage on Sunday, as they were comfortably beaten by tier four Actonians in West London.
A double from Meila D’Santos and strikes from Minori Ono and Rochelle Shakes ensured that the London based side secured a routine passage into the First Round Proper at a windswept Rectory Park against a Reds side who battled throughout, but ultimately came up short.
Both sides made a confident start to proceedings, with Worthing more than matching their opponents. The home side had their first chance of the game on six-minutes, when Ono found space on the edge of the box for a speculative effort which was easily gathered by Reds keeper Lucy Apps. Meila D’Santos also headed wide for the hosts on 13-minutes as Worthing continued to frustrate the home side early on.
Caroline Hodgson was the first to go close for Worthing on 14-minutes following a fine passing move but a last-ditch tackle denied her a clean shot on goal.
Despite their good start, Worthing found themselves a goal down after 21-minutes when a corner for the home side was only partially cleared allowing D’Santos to calmly curl a precise effort past Apps to give her side the lead.
Not to be deterred, Worthing continued to press. Hodgson went close again on 24-minutes when her low strike was parried wide by home keeper Kinga Golebiowski after a Sara Tubby delivery wasn’t dealt with by the hosts. Worthing then had a penalty claim waived away by the referee on 30-minutes when Tammy Waine appeared to be clattered by Golebiowski after a Tubby free-kick.
Actonians showed their quality on the counter-attack once again and on 33-minutes they doubled their lead. With Worthing continuing to press and cause problems, a quick ball forward sent winger Sharon Odofin clear; Apps did well to get a hand to the shot but D’Santos was on hand again to force in the rebound from close range.
Worthing reacted with the same positive energy to that second goal, and they continued to test the home side in the latter stages of the first half. Gemma Worsfold had one final chance to pull a goal back on the stroke of half time, however her dipping free kick was easily saved.
Actonians put the result beyond doubt just a minute into the second half, when the impressive Ono was sent clear through on goal, and she expertly finished past the on-rushing Apps to make it 3-0.
It was 4-0 on 51-minutes when second half substitute Shakes rifled a shot into the roof of the net from close range after a delightful flick from Ono had found her in space.
Lawrence’s side again responded brightly despite the now emphatic scoreline and went close again through Worsfold on 57-minutes, her ambitious long-range shot flying into the arms of Golebiowski once again.
Worthing’s best chance of the game fell to captain Hannah Hewlett on 63-minutes when she headed over unmarked inside the six yard box from a brilliant cross by Worsfold as Worthing continued to compete going into the final quarter of the contest.
After that chance, Sophie Humphrey, Beth Kincaid and Tegan Andrade Paris were all introduced in quick succession for Hewlett, Tubby and Keavy Price respectively as Lawrence added fresh legs in search of a consolation goal. Rebecca Thompson-Agbro was the next to go close for Worthing on 73-minutes when her header from a free kick forced a good stop from the impressive Golebiowski
Lawrence made her final change of the game on 82-minutes with Alice Walford replacing Chloe Lelliott to give her midfield a final injection of energy in the closing moments.
Worthing had one final chance on 86-minutes when Hodgson burst through into the box, but a fantastic sliding challenge from the recovering Jennie Brereton prevented her from grabbing a late consolation.
That was the final chance of the game as Actonians saw out the closing-minutes to progress into the First Round Proper of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup.
Speaking after the game, defender Rebecca Thompson-Agbro highlighted the importance of how the team react to their cup exit. On the game, she said “It is so important we take away the positives, regroup and focus our attention back to the league. I have no doubt we will bounce back stronger. We had some good spells in the game and gave a good account for ourselves, despite the result. It’s about identifying where we need to improve and taking that into the next game. We all need to take responsibility and ensure we maintain our fitness during this period. After today’s loss, I just know that we’ll come back hungrier than ever”.
Manager Michelle Lawrence was also pleased with how her side maintained a competitive attitude throughout the game. She said “We knew it would be a tough challenge today but we competed well for the most part. Similar to last week, we got punished for four lapses in concentration. That is fundamentally the difference when playing teams from higher leagues; they need fewer chances to score”.
With news that a second lockdown will start from Thursday, it is unlikely the team will play again this year but we await a further update from The Football Association.
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