FAWNL Division One South East Sun 26 November Robert Parker Stadium
Ashford Town

There was just the one change to the side that battled to a draw at home to Norwich City last time out, with Club Captain Gemma Worsfold keeping her spot after coming off the bench against the Canaries. Coupled with Hayley Bridge’s injury, that led to places in the squad for Tierney Scott, Izzy Glass-Oliver and the artist formerly known as ‘Trialist Number Seven,’ the newly-signed Shannon Albuery.

On a decidedly chilly afternoon, it was the visiting Reds who caught their hosts cold when Worsfold beat goalkeeper Emma Vigolo from a seemingly impossible angle, after only two minutes. Squeezing in a half-volley from virtually on the left-hand touchline and nestling it neatly inside the far post, to open the scoring.

Both teams, by-and-large, cancelled each other out for the next twenty minutes until Lauren Dolbear saw the danger and left the sanctity of her goal, to ensure that Ashley Cheatley wouldn’t get a chance to equalise.

Almost instantly, the guests hit back via KatieYoung sending Becs Bell surging down the right wing before firing across a low ball that, regrettably, screeched through an unpopulated penalty area.

The presence of Sophie Humphrey, usually more akin to activity further up the pitch, getting back to do her defensive duties resulted in Liz O’Callaghan, having come inside off the right flank, only able to shoot directly at Dolbear.

A rapid counter-attack ten minutes before half-time threatened to produce a leveller, courtesy of Aimee Durn leading it and eventually finding Cheatley in a more central position, although Dolbear dealt comfortably with the striker’s final finish.

However, it would be Worthing who remained ahead going into the break.

For the opening stages after the turnaround, there was a case of ‘please see above’ as an early strike changed the game’s outlook.

We’d only played six by the time Brogan Moore picked her place to curl up and over a helpless Dolbear, from a long way out on the left.

O’Callahgan might have soon seen the Ash Trees take the lead, though ‘Loz’ (Dolbear) wasn’t about to let that happen; getting there first again to keep us level-pegging.

The pressure continued though via a throw-in that concluded with Durn driving narrowly off target, while Worthing struggled to clear their lines.

Mini-crisis duly averted, Dani Rowe played a telepathic pass to the overlapping Humphrey, only for custodian Vigolo to cut out the cross at the front stick, a tad past the hour mark.

It then became the traveller’s turn to up the ante, thanks to Bell’s deflected attempt procuring a corner.

While the subsequent set-piece may have come to nothing, a double swap had seen both newbie Albuery and the returning Scott enter the fray, with the latter testing Vigolo from distance and forcing a low hold at the base of her near upright.

Murphy’s Law then saw the net breached at the other end, following Lavanna Neufville getting clear on the left and picking out the recently-introduced Martha Riley to smash home and relieve some of the tension in the home ranks.

Not that Worsfold or her team were having any of that; the Skipper grabbing the gauntlet and leaving Vigolo rooted to the spot, then breathing a sigh of relief as ‘Gem’s’ attempt rolled agonisingly wide.

A mere few minutes after joining the action, Glass-Oliver’s long throws were proving a problem, with one of them only cleared as far as Rowe, lurking menacingly outside the eighteen yard box. Dani’s well-struck knuckle-ball drawing a fine tip over the top by Vigolo, at the expense of a flag-kick.

Near miss number two emanated from said set-piece, due to Rowe delivering onto the head of Sammy Quayle and Vigolo clinging onto the ball on the line, amid cries of “handball” from a party of perturbed Reds.

Albuery almost marked her official debut with a goal but couldn’t quite reach Winchester’s teasing delivery.

Although the actions of Dolbear up the other end proved to be of equal importance; kicking clear the danger posed by O’Callaghan after she’d latched onto a long ball out of defence.

Try as they might, five added minutes provided plenty of promise that unfortunately went unfulfilled, on a day when Worthing’s winless run went up a notch to four.