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Larkhall's dream run is halted
 Women's Football News 27 Feb 2012
Larkhall's dream run is halted - 27 Feb 2012 - Women's Football NewsBrighton & Hove Albion 3 Larkhall Athletic 0
Larkhall Athletic's fine run in the FA Women's Cup came to an end with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion. 
The South West Regional League team, who had already won six ties starting in the First Qualifying Round on October 2nd, matched their Premier League opponents for long periods of the game but were undone by quality finishing from Albion.

The Larks simply could not find enough in attack to threaten a comeback once they had conceded the opener to a stunning Kirsty Barton effort on 35 minutes.

Larkhall played a neat passing game throughout and competed very well against opponents who generally had a height advantage but Albion ran out fairly comfortable winners in the end..

Nearly all the attacking threat which Brighton mustered early on came via Kim Whitcombe on the left. Displaying power in the air, pace and set piece ability, Whtcombe threatened almost every time.she got on the ball. A free kick almost set up Carly Noakes with a header, a low cross was scrambled away by Larks keeper Nikki O'Connell on ten minutes, then a Whitcombe header was well cleared off the line a minute later.

Larkhall battled their way back into the match, forcing their first corner on 17 minutes and establishing some control in midfield, seeking to release their pacy front players but Albion defended soundly to deny Larkhall a clear sight of Charlotte Sole's goal..

Just when it seemed that the underdogs were frustrating their hosts, a moment of quality sent them behind. Another Whitcombe cross seemed to have been cleared only for Barton to hit a perfect 25-yard first time shot which went in off the underside of the bar giving O'Connell no chance.

Larkhall held on effectively till half time and were still well in the tie. Kate German had a snap shot which went straight at Sole as the Larks pushed forward early on. However, a second goal six minutes after the restart changed the picture as Faye Rabson played a clever diagonal pass behind the defence for Sara Hinton to finish neatly.

Now the visitors needed to find a way to exert pressure on the Albion defence but despite fashioning several promising attacks the final ball never broke down a watchful back four in which Rebecca Thompson was outstanding .

Whitcombe was denied again by O'Connell at full stretch and Charlene Rooney had a good first time effort held by Sole before Albion's third settled the match. A corner from the left was met by sub Lucy Somes with a firm downward header from ten yards on 71 minutes. Albion saw out the final stages of the match comfortably despite spirited efforts from the visitors and Brighton's Kim Stenning hit the post from close range after Somes had broken clear to play her in.

Brighton had created a number of chances and denied Larkhall's attack very effectively to enter the last 16 of the Cup and a potential meeting with FA WSL opposition. Larks impressed with their commitment, organisation and good passing which had already got them so far in this competition. They can now focus on trying to win promotion to the South West Combination and repeating their Cup exploits against Yeovil Town in the Somerset FA Cup Final.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Charlotte Sole, Charly Boswell, Faye Rabson, Kirsty Barton, Carly Noakes, Rebecca Thompson, Briony Parks, Clio Tregear, Kim Stenning, Sara Hinton, Kim Whitcombe . Subs: Lucy Somes, Darcey James, Charlotte Owen, Amy Green.
Larkhall Athletic: Nikki O'Connell, Emily Harrington, Michelle Munro, Kate German, Charlene Rooney, Amy Scrivens, Carly Bryant, Kelly Cripps, Tash Miller, Anna Walby, Kate Ransome. Subs: Carly Symons, Sophie Hamer.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)

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