Wasps win first Women’s Challenge Cup
Crawley Wasps have won the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup for the first time in their history after beating the holders, Chichester City, in a dramatic penalty shootout at Culver Road on Thursday night.
A bullet header from Crawley Wasps’ Ellie Russell and a clinical finish from Chichester City’s Bell took the tie to extra-time and penalties.
Both teams started lively in an end-to-end first five minutes, neither managed a shot but their attacking intents were made clear.
Wasps had a series of corners early on, one resulted in a foul in the box while the other cross fell to Sam Pittuck, but her shot was blocked. Pittuck was in action again making great cross from the right wing but Sian Heathers’ effort flew over the bar.
Crawley got the break they needed in the 24th minute, with a brilliant cross from Naomi Cole headed in by Russell making it 1-0 to the Wasps.
Wasps got a chance to make it two just five minutes later from a free-kick, the header from Russell was agonisingly close but flew just wide of the post. In the 34th minute Priscilla Martins had an opportunity to equalise, but her shot was blocked and cleared.
Naomi Cole was inches away from scoring a wonder goal, she smashed the ball from 30 yards rattling the crossbar. Tash Stevens nicked the ball in the Chichester area with her strike tipped over the bar by Issy Foster ensuring Chi stayed in the game at half-time.
Chichester started the second-half brightly and were instantly rewarded for their efforts. Tash Wilds’ low driven cross found Simmonds who’s shot was parried into Bell who then equalised with a tap in. Crawley bit back straight away with a strike from Emma Plewa caught by Foster in the 51st minute.
The latter stages of the second-half was very much end-to-end, both sides were driven to grab a winning goal in the last ten minutes left of normal time. Charlotte Owen fizzed a ball towards goal from the edge of the box but it was blasted wide.
The second-half ended 1-1, Chichester City were not willing to give up their trophy that easily taking the tie into extra-time.
Crawley Wasps won a corner which was curled in towards the far post, with the shot blocked and cleared by Nicky Lake. Wasps took another shot from a free-kick from Cole, didn’t trouble Foster at all. Cole took another strike, this time on the half volley which was well saved by Foster down on her left.
Crawley Wasps were the more dominant side in the first-half of extra-time, the score remained 1-1.
Pittuck was sent through on goal by Plewa in the 107th minute, firing the ball straight into the palms of Foster. The best chance Crawley Wasps had to take the lead since the equaliser. Both teams tried to make things happen but neither could grab a winner, the score ended 1-1 at extra-time. The final went to penalties.
Chichester City took the advantage after Martins scored the opening penalty, with Russell putting hers wide. Crawley went back level after Heather scored to take advantage of Burke’s miss. Gibbs produced an excellent save and Plewa scored to give the advantage to Crawley Wasps. Both sides scored their fourth penalties. Crawley needed to score their fifth to win, Cole stepped up and scored to win the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup for her side!
Wasps manager Paul Walker said his side probably deserved to win after a fantastic first-half, he also gave credit to the hard-working Chichester squad: “First of all big credit to all the Chichester Squad they put in a real shift tonight and made it a very competitive game.I think though, on the balance of the overall game, and certainly the first-half, we probably deserved it”.
(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)
(Video highlights are available above and on YouTube - courtesy of Your Instant Replay)
Stats: (Chichester City-Crawley Wasps)
Goals: 1-1; Shots: 8-16; Shots-on-target: 7-9; Corners: 3-9; Fouls: 9-4; Offsides: 0-2; Yellow cards: 0-0; Red cards: 0-0.
Chichester City: Foster, Lake, Howden, Burke, Capel-Watson, Wild, Laczkovszki, Simmonds, Fox (c), Bell, Martins.
Subs: White, Staple, Rowlands, Cook, Collighan.
Crawley Wasps: Gibbs, Palmer, Russell, James, Nash, Cole (c), Stow, Stephens, Owen, Pittuck, Heather.
Subs: Graves, Fleischman, Webber, Plewa, Ledezma-Viso.
Match report by Jack Bryant