Sussex Challenge Cup Semi Final Sun 21 January Fort Road

Shorn of the likes of Sophie Humphrey, Becki Bath and Katie Cooper due to injury, amid a tough run of away fixtures, Manager John Donoghue made a couple of changes to the side that ground out a fine one-nil league win at London Seaward last week. Abi Dolding enjoyed a rare start in goal, while Izzy Glass-Oliver also lined up from the beginning. Lauren Dolbear and Emma Blakely were both rested but took their places on the subs bench.

They faced a familiar foe or two as well in the shape of former goalkeeper Annie Hills, a forerunner of the current set-up and reigning Supporter’s Player of the Year Charlie Carter, who will always be remembered for her goal that set us on the way to last season’s title-clinching victory over AFC Acorns (now Crawley.)

Unfortunately for Hills though, a knock suffered in the warm-up led to outfield player Jamie Quinn swapping her original number twelve jersey for the number one shirt instead.

Meeting for the first time since Reds knocked the Dockers out of the FA Cup in October 2021, any hopes the hosts had of gaining revenge for a six-nil defeat that day looked unlikely in the early stages. Dominating possession without really testing stand-in ‘keeper Quinn, it took the visitors sixteen minutes to eventually open the scoring.

Although, in fairness, the warning signs had been there as Dani Rowe’s corners caused problems until it proved to be a case of third time lucky. The imposing figure of Katie Young rising to back head home from close range.

Young then almost turned from scorer to provider by threading a long, inch-perfect through ball that saw Quinn out quickly to stop Emily Linscer profiting. Soon succeeded by Charlotte Markham’s blocking of Shannon Albuery’s follow-up.

The pace and trickery of Becs Bell carried a threat all afternoon and it was her cross at the midway point of the first-half that Albuery came even closer to heading in, only for her effort to fly narrowly over the crossbar.

A hat-trick of close calls concluded when Quinn frustrated ‘Shan’ once more, just past the half-hour mark.

Not as close though as a short time before the break, due to Albuery reversing roles courtesy of a wonderfully whipped delivery from the right wing that Gemma Worsfold and Lincser were a whisker away from converting.
Finally, during added time, Scott curled in a second after Rowe had picked her out in the eighteen yard area and Bell nearly made the half-time oranges taste all the more sweeter; starting and completing a spell of penalty box pinball that got underway via her right-sided cross and concluded with a relieved Quinn holding on to Becs’ goalbound attempt.

Two inductees to this semi-final match-up saw Blakely and Sammy Quayle introduced for Worsfold and Young at the interval; the former inches wide with a volley after meeting Rowe’s latest flag-kick a few short minutes into the second period.

Despite not having a recognised netminder between the sticks, Newhaven’s Quinn repelled numerous Worthing attacks, the latest arriving moments later. Improvising instantly to hack clear Albuery’s edge-of-the-box shot.

Caz Hodgson needed little more than sixty seconds to have an immediate impact, when she slipped in Albuery to fizz one across the danger zone that simply required someone in there to get on the end of it.

Not that Reds had things all their own way, thanks to Dolding reacting rapidly to meet substitute Katie Franks at the top of the box, to ensure her clean sheet stayed intact.

Three quarters of the way into the contest, a third strike made the home team’s task harder still.

A flowing link-up between Hodgson, Rowe and Scott resulted in the latter cutting inside her marker to complete a personal double.

Late in the day, a positive run by Quayle didn’t quite end with an equally positive outcome, as she pulled a venomous drive marginally the wrong side of the far post.

The woodwork also, directly, came between Chloe Winchester and a second goal in three games, after Quayle offered the opening on the precipice of the penalty box.

Quayle was then the recipient of a raking crossfield pass from Young but, coming back inside Faye Hannaford on the byline, the brilliance of an inspired Quinn kept the striker out.

Despite being two minutes into stoppages, there was enough left on the clock – and in the tank – for Hodgson to show sharpness in stealing possession off Ellie Coade, usurped by Chloe Winchester doing likewise by getting to the ball first and drilling low, across custodian Quinn to sneak a fourth neatly inside the opposite upright.

Thus setting up a tasty treat against Saltdean in the final, looking to emulate the success of 2017 when Lancing were conquered, in the Trophy equivalent, in the inaugural campaign for the present Worthing FC Women set-up. A match that featured not only current Club Captain Worsfold but also ‘haven’s crocked last line of defence Hills.