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Hemel Hempstead Town 2 AFC Dunstable 0
Hemel Hempstead Town, of the Greater London League Premier Division, moved into the First Round Proper of the SSE Women's Cup with an excellent home win over AFC Dunstable of the Eastern Region League Premier Division at Vauxhall Road.
A goal in each half saw the hosts through and Dunstable, having a very good League season, were second best to a team who belied their lowly league position with a performance of style and determination in equal measure.
Dunstable looked threatening early on, Hemel keeper Ruth Gorin making a fine save at her near post from Amber Pearson in the second minute and Charlotte South heading just over from a Danielle Carty free kick on seven minutes but a penalty awarded to Hemel a minute later, and converted by Charlene Turturici, gave the home team a huge lift. South had another headed chance from a Carty free kick on 14 minutes but it was Hemel who looked increasingly confident all over the pitch.
Apart from one free kick from Lori Wilson-Phillips, Dunstable rarely threatened through the rest of the half whilst, at the other end, Hemel looked for a second. The best chance fell to Lorna Gover, played in on goal with a fine pass, but she fired over Hannah Payne's bar on 38 minutes. The same player went close again close to the break but had her shot on the turn well held by Payne.
On the restart, Dunstable's Carty fired in a free kick from wide on the right but Gorin caught confidently. At the other end, Natasha McConville went close with a free kick from distance as the teams struggled to break down defences from open play. It took an outstanding move to create the crucial second goal for the hosts on 70 minutes. Gover chased down a loose ball deep on the right side and sent in an inviting first time cross towards the near post. Tara Hancock rose and somehow directed a looping header which seemed to take an age before dropping in off the post.
Dunstable pushed on and had plenty of possession in good areas but there always seemed to be a Hemel head or foot blocking their progress. Kayleigh Baker made an excellent interception to cut out a dangerous cross on 83 minutes whilst Gorin denied Pearson with another fine save as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes but, in truth, the hosts looked just as likely to add a third as they saw out the tie confidently.
Hemel deserved the long ovation given by their supporters in a good local derby crowd. Every player impressed with their calmness on the ball, ability to play their way out of danger and the way they backed each other up. Dunstable themselves had worked hard throughout but rarely found the spark to break down a solid team block.
Hemel Hempstead Town: Ruth Gorin, Natalie Cole, Kayleigh Baker, Stephanie Cripps, Lucia Halliwell, Natasha McConville, Charlene Turturici, Leah Haley, Louise McCay, Lorna Gover, Tara Hancock. Subs: Callie Waters, Chloe Shimell, Bianca Hedgecock, Cassey Crowsley, Emma Manners.
AFC Dunstable: Hannah Payne, Erin Davis, Stephanie Fisher, Laureen Chimes, Isabelle Attenborough, Danielle Carty, Charlotte South, Bethany Stanton, Amber Pearson, Lori Wilson-Phillips, Elly Wade. Subs: Rebecca Longthorne, Claudia Attenborough, Madeline O'Neill, Stephanie Chandler.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Stephanie Fisher blocks under pressure from Tara Hancock
(middle) Tara Hancock closes down Stephanie Fisher
(bottom) Lorna Gover battles for the ball with Lauren Chimes
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