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Southampton Women 3 Chesham Utd 2
Southampton Women took the honours in a meeting of two promoted clubs with a 3-2 Southern Region League Premier Division home victory over Chesham United.
Both teams had won their opening two matches and it was Southampton who kept their 100 per cent record with three first half goals. Chesham came back with a Gemma Fraser double and both sides went close to adding to their tally in an exciting finale, but it was the hosts who claimed the points.
Southampton were clinical in the opening quarter of an hour, two Jane Yeates goals giving them a great start. Both came from moves down the left, the first a composed finish from close range, the second converted well from Emma Pinner's pass.
Chesham had good chances of their own either side of Yeates' double. Katie Squire was denied by Kellie Warren's tackle, then keeper Millie Peake produced a brave block to foil Sarah Hazell at point blank range from a Squire cross.
Tasha Smith went close for Chesham but it was Southampton who extended their lead on 38 minutes with a fine opportunist finish from Laura Gilbank, chasing down a pass on the left and steering a shot past the advancing Lucia Masella.
Southampton were indebted to keeper Peake for a fine save in a one-on-one with Fraser seconds after the restart. This set the tone for a thrilling second period, Southampton moving the ball fluently and creating lots of good situations and Chesham always dangerous on the breakaway with the pace of Squire, Nat Adams and Fraser. Masella stopped Yeates from getting her hat-trick with an alert block, then Chesham pulled a goal back with a lobbed finish by Fraser on 63 minutes.
Southampton went close when Cassie Thorp hit the side netting from a Kirsty Bell through pass then Masella tipped over a Gilbank drive on 68 minutes. At the other end, Adams put a good chance over the bar when set up by Fraser on 70 minutes.
Southampton's Meg Vella crashed a header from a corner off the bar on 74 minutes while at the other end, Peake denied Fraser with another good save before the forward reduced the deficit to one on 77 minutes with a close range shot.
The home side responded positively to the Chesham revival. Gilbank had a shot saved then put the rebound wide, Vella had a powerful effort tipped over by Masella on 86 minutes, then Gemma Simmonds went close with a header late on for Southampton and they successfully saw out the match for a hard earned win.
Although it is very early in the campaign, on this showing both teams will surely be in title contention. Even though recently promoted, both clubs have highly experienced and talented individuals throughout the team to drive their challenge.
Southampton Women: Millie Peake, Amie Barnett, Laura Gilbank, Kirsty Bell, Kirsty Whitton, Jane Yeates, Cassie Thorp, Emma Pinner, Sheree Bell-Jack, Kellie Warren, Jenna Patterson. Subs: Shereen Cordy, Sophie Solloway, Gemma Simmonds, Meg Vella.
Chesham Utd: Lucia Masella, Olivia Harris, Gemma Darvill, Kirsty Gladwin, Emma Delves, Sarah Hazell, Katie Squire, Paula Lambert, Tasha Smith, Gemma Fraser, Dawne Campbell. Subs: Lisa Welling, Sarah Jackson, Laura Barton, Nat Adams.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kellie Warren challenges as Gemma Fraser is about to score for Chesham
(middle) Gemma Darvill in a chase with Emma Pinner
(bottom) Olivia Harris tries to hold off Meg Vella
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