Injuries and the shock departure of Ella Newman to higher league AFC Wimbledon forced Manager John Donoghue’s hand somewhat. Rachel Palmer and Niamh Andersson played the role of frustrated spectators, leading to recalls for Charlie Carter, Chloe Lelliott and Captain Gemma Worsfold.
The game kicked off after a slight delay with the Referee arriving late and a replacement Assistant needing to be sought, when the appointed Match Official failed to turn up.
Unfazed by the situation, it was the visitors who made all the early running. Indeed, nearly going ahead inside the opening sixty seconds of the contest. Katie Young played a ball down the right wing for Worsfold to run onto and, although Brionne Fowle intercepted, Georgia Tibble soon regained possession and forced home goalkeeper Grace Taylor into the first save of the match.
Opposite number Lauren Dolbear then almost inadvertently lent a helping hand to the Towners when her clearance picked out Olivia Syson, who instantly slipped in Alana Munro through the inside-left channel. Only for the forward to curl her attempt over the far angle of crossbar and post.
Two minutes later though, a raking (Ellie) Russell pass along the left flank released the pacy Sophie Humphrey, who advanced to beat Taylor at her near post via a well-struck, low drive.
The away side’s striker nearly repeated the trick moments later but the home team’s number one was wise after the event.
Around the midway point of the opening period, the unbeaten travellers doubled their advantage thanks to Hayley Bridge this time winning the ball back and sending Becs Bell scampering clear on the right. Showing a clean pair of heels to Munro, BB got all the way to the byline before locating the in-form Chloe Winchester to apply an excellent first-time finish from close-range.
Bell might have heaped more misery on the Whites when she found herself in acres of space inside the penalty area. However, despite “merely” having netminder Taylor standing in her way, the ex-Portsmouth attacker wouldn’t be the last to be frustrated by the on-form shot-stopper.
Up the other end the Londoners threatened to upset the applecart, following substitute Lauren Cann’s slide-ruler that allowed Syson to bear down on Dolbear’s goal, but ‘Loz’ was out smartly to smother at her feet.
One final piece of creativity in a productive first forty-five saw Winchester, on the right-hand side of the eighteen-yard area, tee-up Lelliott to pull a decent-looking opening marginally the wrong side of the upright.
Just shy of the hour mark and Bridge had a great chance to put the game practically to bed, although in fairness she wasn’t the only one to be surprised at the lack of an offside flag, once Worsfold’s perfectly-weighted through ball had put her in.
Shortly afterwards, Russell and Tibble linked up well for the latter to cross and Winchester to head over the top.
A similar scenario arose with a little under twenty minutes remaining, as it fell to Worsfold to get her noggin to a Tibble teaser but not quite enough to direct it on target.
Humphrey’s heels clicked again in readiness for a latest burst of energy that took her towards the corner flag, prior to delivering a chance that replacement Emily Linscer glanced agonisingly across the face of goal.
Tibble then took it upon herself to demonstrate how it should be done, only to be met with a stunning one-handed save by the outstanding Taylor. Humphrey once more providing the ‘assist’ on the end of a superb long-range pass by the imperious Young.
Home Player of the Match Taylor earned further fantasy football league points in keeping out Winchester, before the last word went to the hosts.
An extra three minutes had been played when it appeared that Worthing’s clean sheet was in danger of going for a Burton
Admirably battling ‘til the bitter end, a positive period of play saw the ball break nicely for Cann, who very nearly did, when her run and cross was met by the dome of Katie O’Leary who nodded away from the net rather than in the direction of it and that would, like the double rainbow that briefly broke out earlier in the match, be that