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(Kent Football Utd won 5-4 on penalties)>
Ashford Town (Middlesex) 2 Kent Football Utd 2
(Kent Football Utd won 5-4 on penalties)
Kent Football United went through to the Third Round Qualifying of the Vitality Women's FA Cup after a thrilling battle with Ashford Town (Middlesex).
Leading by a pair of Charlie Goad goals at the break, KFU were pegged back by an excellent Tangerines second half but provided a faultless shootout performance to clinch the tie.
The clubs had previously met in the FA Cup with Kent edging a seven-goal thriller and this match was equally dramatic with both teams having spells of dominance as the outcome hung in the balance. It was Ashford who started the brighter, Jade Johnson being the first to test Grace Taylor in the Kent goal. Alissa Down then had a 20-yard effort well held.
The visitors played their way back into the game and took the lead with a fine lofted shot from Goad on 26 minutes. Ashley Cheatley set up a good chance for an equaliser on 41 minutes but Lavana Neufville wasn't able to convert a right wing cross.
Kent doubled their lead just before the break when a left wing cross reached Goad beyond the far post and the prolific striker had time to control and fire a shot back across goal for the second.
Ashford came out with great resolve and dominated proceedings from the restart. Kent were put under sustained pressure, especially from Down's excellent corner delivery but also from the powerful runs of Charmaine Benham, Neufville , Johnson and Cheatley. In fact, Kent defended very resolutely for the most part but were unable to relieve the pressure with any forward movement.
It was no surprise when a Down corner was turned home by Kalani Peart to halve the deficit on 62 minutes. The balance of play continued in the home team's favour and and they drew level from another Down corner, this time converted from close range by sub Chloe Farrell.
Kent responded well to this double blow and the final twenty minutes was an end to end affair. Goad was denied her hat-trick by a fine save from keeper Gracie Perkis, then at the other end, Cheatley beat three defenders in a great run before firing just over.
The sides could not be separated and so a shootout was required. Emma Squirrell, Tash Moloney, Poppy Payne, Amy Payani and, finally and decisively, Jessie Carpanini all converted expertly for KFU. Taylor made a crucial save from the fourth Ashford penalty to set up a very hard fought victory for the FAWNL Division One South East club over their London & South East Regional League opponents after a fine contest.
Ashford Town (Middlesex): Gracie Perkis, Anya Kinnane, Laura Huse, Hannah Pearson, Kalani Peart, Alissa Down, Charmaine Benham, Jade Johnson, Lucy Potter, Lavana Neufville, Ashley Cheatley. Subs: Chloe Farrell, Holly Reid, Phoebe Head, Vicky James, Rozalia Sitarz.
Kent Football Utd: Grace Taylor, Jessie Carpanini, Tash Moloney, Poppy Payne, Beth Powell, Brionne Fowle, Ami Burnham, Emma Squirrell, Charlie Goad, Amy Payani, Megan Burrows. Subs: Abi Adewunmi, Charlotte Greenwood.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kalani Peart challenges Beth Powell
(middle) Jade Johnson battles for possession with Emma Squirrell
(bottom) Megan Burrows wins the ball from Phoebe Head
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