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Carshalton Athletic 2 Aylesford 4
Aylesford made a stunning start to 2016 under new management with a 4-2 away win at Carshalton Athletic in the London & South East Regional League Premier Division.
The War Memorial Ground's new 3G pitch allowed the match to go ahead and the surface encouraged passing football by both teams. Carshalton led the match for well over an hour and looked likely single goal winners for much of the contest but were hit by excellent finishes by the visitors to clinch the points for only Aylesford's second league win of the season in a frantic last twelve minutes containing no less than five goals.
An unfortunate headed own goal on 12 minutes from a Laura Curtis cross from the left gave Carshalton the lead and the hosts went close to adding to the opener with Heather Eade shooting just wide and having another long range effort well held by visiting keeper Zara Chapman. Both defences were on good form, covering and tackling effectively. with efforts on goal coming mainly from distance up to the break. Aylesford's best chance fell to Samantha Roland from a misplaced goal kick but she was unable to return the ball on target on 38 minutes.
The visitors returned with good intentions and pushed forward on the restart. Even so, Carshalton defended well and home keeper Zoe McNulty saved well from Claire Williams' shot. Roland was a threat for Aylesford and drew an excellent save from McNulty just after the hour to preserve Carshalton's lead, leaping backwards to tip over a 30-yard effort from under the bar.
Laura Curtis was always a threat for Carshalton, breaking clear to fire just wide and forcing a good save by Chapman from a low cross on 71 minutes. Rebecca Barr's corners were dangerous for Aylesford, always testing the home defence. McNulty punched one delivery away under pressure and Williams headed wide from another.
Laura Curtis went very close to doubling the lead on 81 minutes firing over after a neat counter attack but the equaliser came two minutes later, Sophie Hayes breaking clear and chipping a delightful effort over McNulty on the run. An even better effort followed as Barr volleyed a bouncing ball from a tight angle over McNulty's leap to give Aylesford the lead. The astonishing turnaround in fortunes continued when Williams headed home a Barr corner on 88 minutes to add a third.
Back came Carshalton within a minute when Laura Curtis finished off a right wing cross from close range and the home team pushed hard for an equaliser with Chapman twice forced to rush from goal to smother at the feet of home attackers. However Aylesford finally sealed the win deep into added time when Roland finished precisely from distance , another excellent strike giving the unfortunate McNulty no chance.
The breathless, goal laden finale made assessment of the match difficult. Carshalton could point to how they led for 70 minutes, how close they were to obtaining a decisive lead with little time left. Aylesford could point to a fine second half of pressure and good team play, with just the eleven starting players all contributing well.
In the end, it was a trio of perfectly hit shots from distance and a good headed finish which won the day and tipped the balance in an entertaining match where all the players and their management deserve credit.
Carshalton Athletic: Zoe McNulty, Emily Curtis, Jessica Xentsa, Tamara Graham, Beth Roche, Eloise Williams, Kadeshia Rose, Danielle Davies, Heather Eade, Sophie Reid, Laura Curtis. Subs: Lily Chapman, Melanie Anderson, Eva Smiley.
Aylesford: Zara Chapman, Filipa Fernandes, Claire Williams, Laurel Collins, Sophie Hayes, Sophie Brown, Rebecca Barrett, Alex Witham, Stacey Glover, Laura Brown, Samantha Roland.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Alex Witham slides in to tackle Laura Curtis
(middle) Sophie Hayes heads past Danielle Davies
(bottom) Sophie Hayes about to score past keeper Zoe McNulty with Danielle Davies in pursuit
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