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Southampton Women 2 Swindon Town 0
Southampton Women earned an away tie to Cambridge United in the Second Round of the SSE FA Women's Cup with an excellent team display to defeat FAWPL Southern Division Swindon Town at Hamble Club FC.
The Southern Region Premier Division leaders matched their higher ranked opponents all over the pitch and created other good chances to have added to the score. They survived a missed penalty with twenty minutes remaining but Swindon were unable to find any real bite in attack and Southampton deserved their victory.
Swindon had the first shot on target, Sandy Abi-Elias' shot well held by Southampton keeper Millie Peake. Chenise Austin's superb tackle denied the home team's Jane Yeates a shot on goal on 13 minutes. Swindon threatened from Michelle Rich's free kick deliveries but twice the ball flew across goal with no final touch.
Swindon keeper Robyn Levett saved well from Laura Gilbank's 15-yard drive but Southampton took the lead from the resulting corner. Skipper Kirsty Bell, who was outstanding throughout, was on hand to hammer the ball home after the corner was only half cleared on 31 minutes.
Encouraged by this, Southampton started to look dangerous. A perfect cross from Gilbank was somehow missed by Yeates on the far post on 40 minutes. Swindon put on the pressure in the final minutes of the half, but the home team stood firm to hold a one goal lead at the break.
Southampton doubled the advantage soon after the restart, Gilbank's effort from wide left flying beyond Levett and dropping in at the far post on 49 minutes. The Swindon keeper had already denied Sheree Bell-Jack by racing out to block a low shot and she was to produce another fine save from Yeates in a similar position to keep Swindon in the game against dominant opposition at this stage.
Swindon had been well contained until being awarded a penalty on 69 minutes for a trip. Rich's spot kick flew high and wide and despite an improved final twenty minutes with substitutions giving the visitors more attacking options, Swindon rarely looked like breaking down a very solid Southampton defence. Peake was very quick off her line to clear a dangerous through ball on 84 minutes, and Natasha Angel made an excellent tackle on 90 minutes to stop another half chance, but Southampton saw the match out very well.
What was most impressive about the winners was their comfort and calmness in possession and confidence in receiving the ball under pressure in all areas of the pitch whilst being able to recover if the ball was lost in dangerous areas. Every player contributed fully over 90 minutes in a fine team display against good opposition.
Millie Peake, Natasha Angel, Sophie Sollaway, Kate Wiseman, Kirsty Bell, Kirsty Whitton, Laura Gilbank, Jane Yeates, Sheree Bell-Jack, Kellie Warren, Gemma Simmonds. Subs: Shereen Cordy, Philippa Holden, Abi Fletcher.
Robyn Levett, Serena Smith, Alice Smith, Chenise Austin, Amy Wathan, Alison Witts, Michelle Rich, Sammy Hallsworth, Sandy Abi-Elias, Ellie Maynard, Georgia Walters. Subs: Briony Hurd, Steph Houston, Sylvannah Winstone, Lois Colley.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Sylvannah Winstone in a chase for the ball with Kirsty Bell
(middle) Sheree Bell-Jack challenges Alice Smith
(bottom) Natasha Angel plays the ball under pressure from Ellie Maynard
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