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Barton Rovers 0 Woodley Utd 1
Leaders Woodley United took a big step forward in the Southern Region League Division One North title race, edging out hosts Barton Rovers by a single goal in a tense and highly competitive contest to guarantee United a top two finish.
A superb Charley Evans lobbed finish just before the hour was the difference between two well matched teams with both going close on several occasions in an exciting finale.
Chances were at a premium in the opening stages with only a Cheryl Williams strike for Barton testing Nicole Haines in the Woodley goal on 13 minutes. The visitors earned three corners which were well defended by the Rovers defence. Rachel Allwright was a threat up front for Barton, netting on 26 minutes but from an offside position.
May Hamblin was very busy for Woodley, having a powerful shot blocked for a corner by Gemma Sims on 33 minutes. Williams twice threatened from distance for the hosts, the second shot flying inches wide with the keeper beaten right on the break.
Williams set up Allwright who shot over under pressure on the restart but Woodley hit back in style. Natasha Masters had a shot pushed away by Barton keeper Georgina Smithers but, soon after, Evans picked up the ball some 30 yards out and measured a perfect lofted effort beyond Smithers for the opening goal on 58 minutes.
Ruth Pearson did very well to get a shot away under pressure for Woodley but the keeper saved at full stretch. Barton then piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and scorer Evans was the defensive saviour for Woodley. sliding in to clear after Williams had gone past keeper Haines and seemed certain to level on 71 minutes. Allwright clipped the post for Barton after picking up a wayward defensive clearance a minute later.
Having weathered the storm, Woodley looked for the second goal which would make their position more comfortable. Rosie Page-Smith was brought down when through on goal but her free kick attempt was blocked. Several corners were well dealt with by the Barton defence and still the threat of an equaliser was always present.
Haines was kept busy through the final ten minutes, the keeper denying Williams with a block, then kicking clear a dangerous cross before saving the follow up shot to preserve Woodley's advantage.
At the other end, Page-Smith sent in a powerful 20-yard effort which rebounded to safety off the upright but the additional minutes saw Woodley defending several threatening free kicks with excellent concentration and application to secure a narrow victory.
Woodley will face fellow title contenders, second placed Wargrave, next week and, thanks to this victory. will go into their final league match with their fate firmly in their own hands but no doubt facing a similarly testing battle.
Georgina Smithers, Chloe Proctor, Gemma Sims, Noella Rodricks, Jade Scott, Amelia Sergent, Vicky Carvill, Steph Nelson, Phoebe Cole, Rachel Allwright, Cheryl Williams. Subs: Carly Chilton, Amie Benton, Frankie Boekbinder, Katy Cresswell.
Nicole Haines, Holly Wilkins, Natasha Masters, Charley Evans, May Hamblin, Ruth Pearson, Shelby Preston-Morris, Ellen Surtees, Rosie Page-Smith, Jodie Penny, Alice Cooke. Subs: Daneshay Edwards, Katharina Hochmuth, Faye Ward, Katie Lowther.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Ellen Surtees and Cheryl Williams battle for possession
(middle) Alice Cooke tries to get in a tackle on Phoebe Cole
(bottom) Ruth Pearson is challenged by a sliding Vicky Carvill
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