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Chesham United 1 Larkhall Athletic 2
South West Combination newcomers Larkhall Athletic provided the shock of a weather hit FA Women's Cup Second Round by claiming a 2-1 away victory at Premier League Chesham United.
Taking the lead twice in the first quarter of an hour of an open and entertaining match, both teams created plenty of chances but no further goals to allow the Somerset team take their place in Monday's Third Round draw.
The visitors showed no ill effects from a delayed arrival and curtailed warm up and took the lead on seven minutes. A corner was cleared but Kelly Cripps returned the ball for Tasha Miller to guide a close range header past Katie McGloin.
Chesham equalised three minutes later when a clearance was blocked and ball was played through for Gemma Fraser to finish past Nikki O'Connell from ten yards. Dawne Campbell nearly gave Chesham the lead but it was Kate German with a fine opportunist effort who restored Larks' advantage, latching on to a Victoria White pass and chipping the ball over the advancing McGloin on 15 minutes.
Both attacks were working very effectively, giving the opposition plenty to think about. Natalie Adams tricked her way towards the Larks goal but couldn't force the ball home. Chesham's Campbell broke clear on goal but was tackled as she shot.
At the other end, Lizzie Barratt was very involved in Larkhall's best moments, having a curling shot well saved by McGloin on 24 minutes. The visitors looked very dangerous every time the ball was crossed and Carly Symons was denied by the bar on 27 minutes when she returned a half cleared corner with an angled right foot shot.
Chesham responded with aflowing move involving Adams, Campbell and Fraser which ended with a good diving save from O'Connell. Cath Andrews denied Barratt with a perfecly timed tackle as a breathless first period came to a close with the visitors leading but with the promise of more goals to come.
Larkhall almost added to their advantage on 47 minutes when a fine cross from German just evaded White at the far post. Fraser directed a free kick, awarded for a foul on Adams, towards the near post but O'Connell showed fine handling of an awkward bounce on 49 minutes. German was outstanding for the Larks but she was prevented from scoring by good reactions from McGloin when clean through on 59 minutes.
Chesham continued to battle hard for an equaliser, despite losing Andrews to injury. Naomi Littler went close on 65 minutes but the crucial incident occurred with a quarter of an hour remaining. A clever pass released Adams who took the ball round keeper O'Connell and closed in on goal. As she went to slip the ball into the net, from a tight angle a superbly timed sliding block by Miller deflected the ball for a corner to preserve Larks' lead.
Larkhall always looked dangerous on the counter attack as they absorbed Chesham's pressing. Emily Harrington broke clear on the right and her inviting cross evaded German at the far post. Adams and Littler had further efforts for the hosts but again O'Connell saved well before Chesham ran out of time.
Larkhall Athletic have a reputation for FA Women's Cup exploits, having had a run to the Fourth Round in their brief history two years ago. This win and the entry of WSL2 clubs to the competition at the Third Round stage will allow dreams of further exploits in 2014.
Chesham United: Katie McGloin, Leah Asante, Cath Andrews, Monica Sharma, Amy Fisher, Sarah Tyas, Ciara Allen, Dawne Campbell, Natalie Adams, Gemma Fraser, Naomi Littler. Subs: Annie Burns, Chantelle O'Grady, Lisa Welling.
Larkhall Athletic: Nikki O'Connell, Carly Symons, Amy Scrivens, Emily Harrington, Tasha Miller, Carly Bryant, Michelle Munro, Lizzie Barratt, Kate German, Kelly Cripps, Victoria White. Subs: Kath Bessell, Elena Claudia Pasare.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Emily Harrington takes on Amy Fisher
(middle) Katie McGloin gathers under pressure from Lizzie Barratt and Monica Sharma
(bottom) Natalie Adams is sent flying by Amy Scrivens
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