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Crawley Wasps 3 Cardiff City Ladies 0
Crawley Wasps got their FAWNL Southern Premier Division campaign off to an impressive start with a 3-0 home win over Cardiff City at Horsham F.C.
Impressive all over the pitch, the hosts dominated much of the game, took a deserved lead and could have been home and dry before the break but for some international class saves from visiting keeper Laura O'Sullivan. Cardiff improved after the break but Wasps added a crucial second midway through the half and a late penalty added some gloss to a fine performance.
Wasps forced three early corners and a flying O'Sullivan save from a Nikita Whinnett shot. Iesha Swaby ran through the heart of the Cardiff defence but was foiled by a superb last ditch tackle. Skipper Naomi Cole was just wide with another effort as the hosts maintained their electric start.
O'Sullivan made a superb double save to deny Immy Lancaster on 21 minutes, beating away a close range shot before pouncing on the loose ball close to the line. The constant pressure eventually paid off just after the half hour when Swaby forced a loose half clearance and Cole guided a precise effort beyond O'Sullivan.
Cardiff had a good spell just before the break and returned with greater attacking threat on the restart. Nadia Lawrence, Chloe Lloyd and Cori Williams started to put greater pressure on the home defence but keeper Megen Lynch was well protected. Swaby went very close to doubling the lead on 65 minutes but the crucial point of the match came midway through the half.
Cardiff's best move of the match put Olivia Thompson clear ten yards out but the shot flew wide. From the restart, Swaby played in Whinnett on the left and her powerful low shot flew past O'Sullivan for the second.
Player of the match Whinnett was brought down for a penalty in the final seconds, which Cole converted for a personal double but this was very much a team win with good pressing and movement against hard working opponents. Above all, it was great to see competitive football back with hopefully a full uninterrupted season to come.
Crawley Wasps: Megen Lynch, Hope Nash, Rachel Palmer, Sokhara Goodall, Naomi Cole, Ellie Russell, Immy Lancaster, Nicola Gibson, Nikita Whinnett, Iesha Swaby, Tash Stephens. Subs: Holly Talbut-Smith, Izzie Burt, Nyara Denny, Ami Martins, Jodie Burchell.
Cardiff City Ladies: Laura O'Sullivan, Amber Roberts, Lucy Attwood, Katie Jones, Hollie Smith, Olivia Thompson, Nadia Lawrence, Cori Williams, Caitlin Williams, Chloe Lloyd, Kelly Isaac. Subs: Klaudia Wojtyczka, Libby Piggott, Ellie Sargent, Nia Rees, Kaitlyn Morgan.
(REPORT BY PATRICK HIGGINS)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Nikita Whinnett is challenged by Hollie Smith;
(middle) Iesha Swaby and Kelly Isaac battle for possession;
(bottom) Nadia Lawrence tries to win the ball from Naomi Cole;
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