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Queen's Park Rangers 1 C & K Basildon 1
C & K Basildon maintained a three point lead at the top of the South East Combination table with a late Zoe Rushen equaliser in their top of the table clash with Queens Park Rangers in an absorbing encounter played in difficult, windy conditions at Bedfont and Feltham FC.
C & K thoroughly deserved a share of the spoils after a spirited display. Any disappointment the hosts will feel at losing the lead late on will surely be tempered by the knowledge that their two games in hand keeps promotion in their own control.
C & K started very brightly and QPR keeper Jo Ayre made two good saves to deny Sara Sinclair after an underhit back pass and dashing from her line to foil Karen Stephanou. A series of corners kept the QPR defence busy as Karissa Rodney and Sara Sinclair were continually threatening up front.
However, with their first meaningful attack on 26 minutes, the hosts went very close to the lead. Stacey Sowden was released on the left and her shot hit the inside of the far post and rebounded back across the goal area.
Ayre made a fine double save from a header and a follow up effort on 36 minutes but QPR were again unlucky when Sophie Fogarty hit a 25-yard effort which hit the bar with C & K keeper Mel Kinsalla helpless on 41 minutes.
QPR made the crucial breakthrough on 53 minutes. A quick counter attack saw Fogerty release Sowden and,, though Kinsalla got a hand on her low shot, the ball continued into the net.
C & K responded well to this setback, Zoe Rushen had a shot blocked by Gemma Rudman, Carly Eagles curled a shot inches wide and then Sinclair was denied by an excellent save from Ayre who clawed away a looping effort on 67 minutes.
QPR might well have settled the outcome on 77 minutes when sub Kasha Petit played in Sowden, but her effort flew wide of goal. C & K piled on the pressure in search of the leveller. Rushen had two efforts from distance and skipper Jenny Brown-Wealls delivered a series of free kicks and corners to test the hard pressed Rangers defence.
Eventually, the visitors found a way past Ayre as Rangers conceded for only the ninth time this season in the league. A cross was helped on and Rushen was free to lob the ball into the net at full stretch on 86 minutes. C & K might well have found a vital winner as subs Amy Nash then Meagen Doyle went very close in added time, but the match ended honours even as the previous encounter between these well matched teams had done.
QPR stretched their unbeaten run to 11 games and created the clearer chances but C & K put the opposition defence under severe pressure for long periods with strong performances throughout the team. Surely one of these two clubs will be promoted at the end of the season and both have performed very well recently against Premier League opponents in the FA Women's Cup.
Queen's Park Rangers: Jo Ayre, Jeta Bytyqi, Sarah Staples, Gemma Rudman, Lauren Gage, Leah Jones, Elly Maggs, Stacey Sowden, Holly Sandow, Sophie Fogarty. Subs: Katie Wilding, Danielle Murphy, Kasha Petit, Leanne Mabey, Laura Cooper.
C & K Basildon: Mel Kinsalla, Nicole Farmer, Hannah Porter, Claire Lacey, Megan Lawler, Jenny Brown-Wealls, Carly Eagles, Karissa Rodney, Karen Stephanou, Zoe Rushen, Sara Sinclair. Subs: Meagen Doyle, Amy Nash, Rebecca Smith.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Holly Sandow battles her way past Hannah Porter
(middle) Carly Eagles and Lauren Gage in an aerial challenge
(bottom) Sarah Staples slides in to tackle Karissa Rodney
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