Once again it was a case of four in four out for an in-form Reds, as last week’s subs all started, leading to Gemma Worsfold, Ellie Russell, Katie Young and Niamh Andersson lining up from kick-off. Effectively swapping places with Becs Bell, Charlie Carter, Emily Linscer and Keavy Price.
Former Wasps Russell and Rachel Palmer were both playing against their former club and it was the higher-league hosts who got the action underway as early as the third minute. Although they posed little threat on this occasion, with Morgan Searle glancing a right wing free-kick harmlessly wide.
The first real chance of the game went the way of the visitors, thanks to a set-piece of their own that saw Young set Sophie Humphrey racing away from deep, albeit with Sophie Fogarty in hot pursuit. Unfortunately, the defender’s close presence was sufficient to force our Soph into dragging her effort wide of the mark.
That opening had been created just before the quarter-hour mark and it took less than sixty seconds for the visitors to carve out their next opportunity, when excellent work by Georgia Tibble saw her step across her marker then release Humphrey down the left, once more. This time, Worthing’s number nine decided to cut inside and aim for the far corner, only to curl marginally the wrong side.
It was almost alright for the all whites (ignoring the black shorts for the purpose of this particular piece of prose), as Jackson’s smooth but not criminal pass offered a chink of light to teammate Amelia Ajao, although a backtracking Chloe Winchester would ensure that no more would come of it.
However, a Taylor-made screamer did hand the Wasps a slightly unexpected lead approaching the midway point of the first period.
Around twenty yards out, Nat Taylor swept a beauty up and out of the reach of Lauren Dolbear, to swing proceedings in Crawley’s favour.
Undeterred, a patient approach was adopted and, twelve minutes later, a well-worked move commencing with Andersson on the right switching to Winchester in the middle, allowed Chloe W to measure a stunning through ball that Captain Worsfold latched onto in a flash and finished with aplomb, across an equally well-beaten Chrissie Wiggins.
Five to go before the break though and, with Russell prone on the floor, the partnership of Ajao and Jackson nearly bore fruit again; roles reversing for the former to tee-up the latter to fire over the crossbar.
A miscued clearance by Wiggins might have been punished, following a neat one-two between the lucky recipient Tibble and Worsfold. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, she rode to the rescue via a more routine catch of GT’s long-range attempt.
Refreshed at the end of the interval, Wasps nearly stung their guests when Brooke Garcia played in Holly Talbut-Smith, who, in spite of some nice touches, couldn’t quite get past a low-gathering Dolbear.
Goalscorer then turned goal provider, as Taylor’s flag-kick was headed home from close in by Jackson, to regain the initiative for the National League South strugglers.
Their tails now up, Jackson’s right flank dash and inside drift put the target in half-time change Tish Nicholls’ sights. A subsequent off-radar curler serving as a warning.
An Off the Wall Jackson struck narrowly the wrong side of the upright, before Nicholls got in on the act to slide through to Talbut-Smith. The winger quickly presenting Morgan Searle with a shot that needed a brilliant two-handed push above the bar by Dolbear.
A rush of blood almost saw Loz blot her copybook when she charged out of her area and lost out to a rapid Nicholls, who also got past Russell at the same time. The replacement’s byline delivery volleyed onto the top of the framework by Jackson, who failed to Beat It.
A similar embarrassment might have derailed a Wasps win; Wiggins doing well to readjust and avoid a Humphrey ball across from sneaking in behind her.
Talbut-Smith then came off worse in a challenge with Dolbear, when the two met on the edge of the eighteen yard box but, after treatment, was able to walk off the pitch unaided.
The final verdict could have swung either way in the closing moments of a keenly-contested affair.
Emily Linscer poking agonisingly wide, as the ball dropped to her unmarked in the penalty box and fellow substitute, Tia Searle might have made her pay for that relative profligacy; although she had to settle for a corner when, pursued by Palmer, she initially got the better of the onrushing Dolbear who had the last word in getting a vitally important touch to take it behind.