FAWNL Division One South East Sun 28 January The MEL Group Stadium

Following on from booking their place in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final at Newhaven last Sunday, there were three differences to the side that took to the pitch at The MEL Group Stadium. Regular number one Lauren Dolbear returned between the sticks, while Emma Blakely and Sammy Quayle also made it back into the starting eleven. That left Izzy Glass-Oliver and Emily Linscer to join Caz Hodgson and new signing Ellie Keegan on the subs bench.

The visitors dominated possession in the opening period but, chances wise, it was even-stevens in the (very) early exchanges.

A mere two minutes had ticked by when Rachel Palmer’s right-sided corner caused a commotion, forcing Captain Ronni Harrison to head off her own goalline from a defensive colleague.

However, AFC soon hit back; a neat little build-up drawing to a close via Leonnie Bezant firing one narrowly over the target, outside the eighteen yard box..

Less than sixty seconds later, Victoria Leyer’s terrific run down the left procured a flag-kick, courtesy of Palmer blocking Jess Allen at close quarters.

Worthing’s best chance arrived just shy of midway through the first forty-five, despite Aliyat Lambe’s best efforts at intercepting Katie Young’s long, raking pass. Quayle took the gauntlet and ran along the right with it, eventually crossing for Skipper Worsfold to pull agonisingly wide of the far post.

The same pair linked up again on the half-hour mark, this time Young finding Quayle to cut inside Amy Jarvis and earn a corner, via a deflection.

Although it remained goalless, the Reds continued to take the game to their opponents. Tierney Scott, always posing a danger on the left, threaded a ball that Worsfold cleverly dummied to leave Albuery one-on-one with netminder Milly Carter. MC called the tunes as she raced out of her goal to intercept at the forward’s feet.

A burst of two goals in a minute then changed the outlook entirely.

Worsfold gave Carter no chance via an emphatic finish that she struck in off the far upright from the edge of the penalty area, added to less than a minute further on by a volley that (former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Wales striker) Mark Hughes would have been proud of. Flying in off the right foot of Albuery to double the advantage.

The score was very nearly three, only for Carter to time her charge out of her six yard box to deny Worsfold a brace.

Shortly after the interval, the crossbar came between a deficit cutter and Leyer, who headed against the woodwork from Sophie Jeffery’s right flank free-kick, coupled with the intervention of Dolbear’s finger tips.

Exactly an hour into proceedings, Eva Frazzoni slipped in centre-half Lambe down the middle and Blakely used her body well to get in front of her opponent to protect the ball and allow Dolbear to get down at her feet and hold on.

Yellows had made two changes at the break, Yasmine Drake and Ella Edwards joining the action, though it was another substitute Alex Penny who may have reduced the home team’s arrears, had it not been for a decisive touch by the guest’s Scott to concede a flag-kick when a lovely crossfield ball had put the Academy graduate in the (relative) clear.

Chances were less forthcoming after the change of ends, although the set-piece prowess of Jeffery continued to pose a problem. Lambe coming close to rendering Reds bleating by nodding a fraction the wrong side of the upright off the left-back’s latest deadball delivery.

A corner created the opening opportunity of the afternoon and the same source brought about another close encounter with the scoreboard; Dani Rowe curling one in dangerously close to Carter’s crossbar, forcing the custodian to punch clear.

Five minutes remained on the Stadium clock when some neat, one-touch combinations between Young, Hodgson and Chloe Winchester concluded with the latter depositing a long-range effort behind it’s intended destination.

Worthing then successfully saw the rest of the match out, meaning they travelled back to Sussex with three more points, as they extended their winning run in all competitions to six.