Sun 6 March Barn Elms Playing Fields
New London Lionesses

There were two changes to the team that slipped out of the League Cup at the hands of Dartford last week, with Amy Critchfield and Molly Thorns coming in for Becky Simmons and Emily Linscer. The latter was joined on the bench by new signing Alicia Macleod, dual-signed from Sussex Cup conquerors Crawley Wasps.

Worthing dominated possession throughout and it was no surprise when it took just four minutes for Sophie Humphrey to carve out the game’s opening opportunity, when she flashed a shot across the face of goal from a fairly tight angle on the left.

The forward came even closer after twenty, as she saw her effort blocked on the line following good work from strike partner Gemma Worsfold, who had suffered a similar fate moments earlier when a sea of blue prevented her from breaking the deadlock.

However, New London might have gone in front themselves thanks to a fine run down the right flank by Imogen Dawe.

On early for Yelin Kim, Dawe surged clear of Charlie Carter before bursting into the box where she was crowded out but still had the wherewithal to lay the ball back to Liz Ashcroft. Unfortunately for the Lionesseses’ the number seven could only drive wide from twenty yards.

Half-an-hour passed by and still the match remained tentatively poised at nil-nil.

That almost changed when Worsfold pulled level with Humphrey in terms of chances.

Critchfield delivered a dangerous-looking cross into the six yard box from the inside-left channel that a stretching Gemma diverted over the crossbar.

Finally, added time at the end of the first-half brought the first goal of the contest, thanks to Katie Young spotting a gap at the near post and bulging the net with a beauty, way out from the inside-right, to beat the despairing dive of the host’s ‘keeper Sarah Sackett.

A few short minutes after the change of ends, a low, long range effort had the opposite effect, as Sackett got down well to prevent Lucy Apps – on at the break as part of a double switch by Manager John Donoghue that also saw Linscer enter the fray – doubling the advantage, with her attempt threatening to creep in at the left-hand upright.

A close shave of Lauren Dolbear’s woodwork meant that the mid-table homesters weren’t out of it yet, though.

Carter was somewhat harshly penalised for a foul in front of her own dugout to concede a free-kick which caused some concern for the guest’s rearguard. Ariane Struckmeier sent it in and it was hooked narrowly the wrong side of the target from close range.

Another dead-ball delivery had the home team in a spin a short while later, as Young floated one in for Skipper Hewlett to nod back in the direction to whence it came, though past the back stick.

It wasn’t until the last five minutes that Worthing finally put the game to bed and Assistant Manager Kelly Newton got to see one of them go in, with Young at the forefront once more.

Testing the reflexes of Sackett from distance, the custodian failed to hold onto her long range rocket and Becs Bell, one of the duo to have departed at the interval, scored with her first touch since being reintroduced for Chloe Lelliott, by pouncing on the rebound.

A quickly-taken throw-in by Young was then instantly returned to her by Hewlett and the laid-back right-back bounced the ball (once) across the danger zone, although a third wasn’t long in coming.

Undistracted by anything going on around her – including the dog outside the ground on the far side who burst at breakneck speed up and down the right wing, in pursuit of either the lino or a pre-season trial – Kelly was left in no doubt as to who made it three.

Linscer drove forward and a body of blue stopped her shot short but Captain Fantastic Hewlett was handily placed on the right-hand side of the penalty area, to bury a blast into the far bottom corner of the net and cap a Player of the Match performance.