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Women's Football News
Old Actonians 4 Southampton Saints 1
Old Actonians booked a SSE Women's FA Cup First Round tie against Swindon Town with a 4-1 victory over Southampton Saints at North Greenford FC.
A highly enjoyable and entertaining match was finely balanced until three late goals from Carla Wiliams settled affairs in the West London club's favour. Having given OA the lead with under twenty minutes left, two further strikes in the dying minutes gave the scoreline a harsh reflection on a Saints team which had competed well throughout. Although Williams made the headlines for the winners, this was an excellent team display with some delightfully constructed attacking play backed up with solid defence.
Actonians were forced to reshuffle in central defence as early as the second minute when Leah Taylor had to be stretchered off with a back injury to be replaced by Lafe Uche. Playing against the slope and into the wind, the home side had the first shot on target from Emma Mulhearn and took the lead on 18 minutes when Williams released Simone Wan, whose clever cut back found Jessica Byrne. Stepping inside a defender, Byrne fired in a low shot which Hannah Haughton got a hand to but couldn't keep out.
Saints worked their way back from that setback and were soon creating chances. Krystal Whyte was freed on the right and crossed for Jess Lewry to volley just over. Another Whyte cross was cleared at full stretch by Jodie Regan only for Becki Bath to fire just wide from 20 yards on 28 minutes. Carla Perkins then set Aimee Burridge for a free header on the run which went past the post. The final chance of the half for the visitors came from a Rebecca Davis cross which found Lewry, but the shot was again wide.
Saints continued to use the wings well after the break and fashioned a fine equaliser on 57 minutes. Whyte found Bath whose through ball allowed Perkins to cross for Lewry to lift the ball over the advancing Naomi Swift.
The introduction of Natasha Cree just after the equaliser was the catalyst for an excellent last half hour from the home team. Byrne had the first of a series of chances but fired over when well placed.
It was from one of a series of well delivered Byrne corners that Williams scored OA's second on 73 minutes, a close range header. Bath set up Saints sub Catherine Browning for an equalising chance within a minute but the shot was wide. Bath was then denied by a good save from Swift but the final ten minutes belonged to OA. Some superb interplay between Williams, Cree, Nathalie Randall and Byrne carved the Saints defence open repeatedly and it was no surprise when a clever pass from Cree released Williams for a cool finish past Haughton on 89 minutes.
Shadia Edwards had a great chance for another when set up by Cree but shot went over. Deep into added time, Cree was bundled over in the area and although Haughton made a fine stop from Williams' penalty, the forward was quickest to react and slot home for the hat-trick and give the final score a slightly unreal air, given the closeness of the contest.
Old Actonians, promoted from the London and South East regional league only this season and going steadily in the league, now have an intriguing double home cup battle against high flying and unbeaten Swindon Town, both in this competition and the FAWPL League Cup.
Old Actonians: Naomi Swift, Leah Taylor, Sinead Friel, Jodie Regan, Sharon Odofin, Nathalie Randall, Hannah Olofsson, Simone Wan, Emma Mulhearn, Carla Williams, Jessica Byrne. Subs: Lafe Uche, Natasha Cree, Shadia Edwards.
Southampton Saints: Hannah Haughton, Rebecca Davis, Sabrina Morriss-Manosalva, Becki Bath, Amelia Southgate, Kat Littleboy, Carla Perkins, Emma Whitlock, Krystal Whyte, Jess Lewry, Aimee Burridge. Subs: Catherine Browning, Leah Shave.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Carla Williams heads in the first goal of her hat-trick
(middle) Rebecca Davis holds off Sharon Odofin
(bottom) Carla Williams beats Hannah Haughton to score her second goal
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