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Abingdon Town 2 Abbey Rangers 1
Abingdon Town claimed a place in the Southern Region League Chairman's Cup Final with a hard fought 2-1 victory over visitors Abbey Rangers.
Two early strikes gave Town an advantage which they nearly added to on several occasions but Abbey fought hard throughout and set up a nervous finish for the hosts with an 85th minute penalty.
The Abbots are top of the Division One table, unbeaten and with a commanding lead, and they started with confidence, making light of tricky conditions with a strong breeze blowing across the pitch. Skipper Isi Meade set up the opening goal with a run down the left and low cross which found Sara Comley who drove the ball wide of Abbey keeper Natalie Jones on 12 minutes.
Another similar attack led to a prolonged scramble in the Abbey area on 21 minutes. Jones made a fine save, two further efforts were blocked by defenders before Zoe Barnes fired in the second through a crowd of players.
The visitors responded well to this double setback, creating their first spell of sustained pressure midway through the half. Megan McGarvey had a low shot cleared off the line then Georgia Mudd had a strike well saved by home keeper Emily Murphy.
Meade struck a post with a fierce drive for Town before the break but the advantage remained at two. Substitute Rachel Johnson set up Abbey's first chance on the restart but Rebecca Burtenshaw's shot was held by Murphy.
The Abbots continued to create more and better chances but Jones made fine saves from Barnes and Meade. The post then denied Meade a second time before Sara Comley rattled the bar with a close range header after a good run and cross by Sophie Tatford on 69 minutes.
Unable to land the killer blow, Town were always liable to encounter a late Abbey rally. It was Johnson who struck with a well taken penalty after her dangerous corner had led to an infringement in the area with five minutes of normal time left. Town were then grateful to keeper Murphy for a fine double save on 87 minutes as Abbey pressed for a late leveller.
In the end, after that late scare, the Abbots saw out additional time fairly comfortably for a good win. Formed in 2018, the club have made rapid strides and look set for an exciting end to their second season with promotion and a Chairman's Cup to aim for.
Abingdon Town: Emily Murphy, Sam Mayo, Lucy Livingstone, Megan Crawford, Harriette Titchener, Sophie Tatford, Zoe Barnes, Charlotte Comley, Sara Comley, Elisha Cox, Isi Meade. Subs: Cecile Deer, Lauren Carey, Sulie Turner, Hayley Clements, Chelsey Dummett.
Abbey Rangers: Natalie Jones, Kerry Russell, Lesley Owen, Julia Varley, Shannon Byrne, Megan McGarvey, Lauren Timbrell, Charlotte Stoate, Georgie Mudd, Ona Verdes Mas, Laura Hobbs. Subs: Rebecca Burtenshaw, Rachel Johnson.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Sophie Tatford is challenged by Ona Verdes Mas
(middle) Charlotte Comley wins a header against Lesley Owen
(bottom) Sophie Tatford tries to escape the attentions of Megan McGarvey
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