FAWNL Division One South East Wed 3 April Sussex Transport Community Stadium
Haywards Heath

Izzy Glass-Oliver kept her place from Sunday’s win over Cambridge United as Emma Blakely rested a slight knock. Katie Cooper did likewise, starting ahead of Becs Bell who was joined on the subs bench by Caz Hodgson and ‘new’ signing Kate Oakley, who’d finally recovered from injury to make a matchday squad.

Having edged past Haywards Heath Town in early September, it was another night under the lights that got underway with Cooper laying the ball back for Katie Young. A threaded through pass resulted in Chloe Winchester touching on for Shannon Albuery to break into the penalty area. Only a great, late sliding tackle by Meg Curran saw the striker denied. Double frustration then ensued when the same player struck wide of the back stick via Georgia Tibble’s subsequent corner.

However, it was the side propping up the rest who shocked their hosts by making an even better beginning to the match. Anaisa Harney’s long ball from the halfway line required just the one bounce, one piece of control and one well-struck shot from the ‘d’ by Kaydence Kabadaki to open the scoring after twelve minutes.

Although the Reds responded immediately, thanks to Captain Rachel Palmer’s left wing delivery being headed clear by Bernie Vivas-Alonso straight to Albuery, who promptly struck the crossbar, just inside the eighteen yard box.

The frame of the goal was still quivering when Cooper robbed Harney in midfield and soon sent a stunning long-range effort sailing over Charlotte Greenwood in the Town net, from a position nearer to the centre circle than the danger zone.

Connie Bagnall tried something similar up the other end but Lauren Dolbear was equal to it.

Greenwood was called back into action after Sammy Quayle was brought down almost on the corner of the eighteen yard line, Dani Rowe drawing a fine save with her free-kick on it’s way in.

Both Tibble and Quayle fired over the top before the former came closer by pouncing on a misplaced pass and driving towards her intended target. Only for Greenwood to hold onto her well-struck low shot

A tremendous run by Winchester saw her get the better of Vivas-Alonso on a route that took her from her own half, culminating in a byline pullback that Albuery teed up Tibble with on the edge of the box to power millimetres the wrong side of the crossbar.
The second period had the homesters further in front a mere five minutes into it. Curran’s crossfield pass to Vivas-Alonso resulted in Quayle stealing in and calmly slotting beyond Greenwood.

Palmer’s flag-kick was met by the dome of Glass-Oliver, in what would later prove to simply be a test by the defender to lull the ‘keeper into a false sense of security.

Although there was nothing she could do courtesy of Rowe’s own set piece precision midway through the half. Starting and so nearly finishing a move that emanated from Dani dispossessing Harney on the right, continued via Quayle’s brilliant turn and one-two with Albuery, then finally ended with Town’s tall ten bundling over Quayle marginally outside the penalty box. DR’s free-kick cannoning off the upright prior to the referee ultimately awarding a dead ball decision the other way. Leaving the recently introduced Hodgson to curse the original call after she’d carried on her run and had the ball in the net.

Possibly slightly perturbed, Rowe went in search of a goal again; moving effortlessly down the middle, until Vivas-Alonso put a stop to it. Club Skipper Gemma Worsfold picked up the pieces and landed an attempt on top of the net, to come within a whisker of marking her recent achievement of clocking up 150 appearances in a red shirt with a decisive third strike of the evening.

Everyone was enjoying a sub, it seemed and Harney was similarly happy to oblige by demonstrating strength and skill in equal measure; holding off the close attentions of Hodgson and skipping past Palmer to land a cross, indirectly, at the feet of replacement Gemma Staple. The substitute able to sort hers out before neatly sidestepping Rowe but lacking the power/accuracy to give Dolbear anything other than a (fairly) routine stop.

Now, do you remember an earlier opening created by Palmer, nearly converted by Glass-Oliver ? Of course you do ! One minute into an additional four, Izzy beat Greenwood to another RP corner, guiding her header into the onion bag despite the best efforts of Georgia Young to keep it out.

Four minutes further on, one last opportunity fell to Harney, when she got a lucky break off Oakley to deposit a dipping half-volley not far wide of the target.

That would be that though and Worthing closed the gap on leaders AFC Wimbledon to six points while, at the same time, extending the one over third-placed Norwich City to four.