Bexhill stun Oakwood in Women's Trophy Final
Bexhill United Ladies have won the Sussex Women’s Challenge Trophy for the first time in their history with a 2-0 victory over Oakwood Ladies at Culver Road on Thursday night.
Oakwood certainly didn’t make it easy for their league rivals, however, goals from Lucy Knight and Anne-Marie Pier ensured that it was Bexhill who lifted the trophy at the end of the night.
‘Semper Paratus’ meaning ‘Always Ready’ is the slogan that is embroidered on the Bexhill badge and that seemed very much the case when United came flying out the starting blocks from the first whistle.
Bexhill pressed Oakwood high and didn’t allow them to play the possession football that United manager, Katie Wilde, had spoke so highly of them doing in the build-up.
It was Oakwood however that forced the game’s first big chance when Chloe Higham spotted Keila Tucker off her line and went for an audacious lobbed effort that just clipped the post and went wide.
From then, Oakwood began to build in confidence and came close once more when Jade Page leaped highest from a corner to head agonisingly over the bar.
However, for all the pressure Oakwood put on, Bexhill always seemed to have an answer and their back-line looked determined not to leak any goals.
Higham came close again with a curled effort just wide of the mark but it was Bexhill who managed to strike first right on the stroke of half-time. Knight, in lots of space out wide, decided she was going to give Hope Laker her first real test and struck from range looping over the Oakwood ‘keeper, into the back of the net.
As you would expect, Bexhill got the second-half underway in plenty of confidence and they almost doubled their lead straight away when Michaela Bryant dragged a shot ever so slightly wide of Laker’s far post.
Oakwood were determined to show the cup tie wasn’t over and when Lauren Tyler decided to test Tucker from distance with a free-kick, her parried save looked destined to fall to an Oakwood attacker, but Bexhill survived and cleared.
For all the efforts Oakwood put in, the defence was starting to look shaky and when Lauren Swarbrooke was allowed through on goal, one-on-one with Laker, she wasn’t able to capitalise and struck wide.
This was followed by another long-range effort from Knight who, with confidence from her earlier goal, forced Laker into a full stretch finger-tip save.
From the resulting in swinging corner, Killick-Bird headed off her own goal-line for Oakwood but only into the path of Pier who was there to poach the ball home and ensure a less nervy end for United.
As the game drifted into injury-time, it looked as though Oakwood might snatch some late salvation when Ioana Vilciu was played through one-on-one with Tucker, however, the Bexhill stopper leaped to the ground brilliantly to ensure her clean-sheet was to be kept intact.
Following the match, Bexhill United manager, Katie Wilde, was elated with the lift it has given them: “I can’t put it into words, the last couple of seasons we’ve had a new challenge, we got relegated last season so to have a nice big lift like this is great for us.
“To lose one of our most influential players so early, we had to regroup and then we lost another influential player in Dom Beckett, so we’ve been right up against it. The second-half I can’t fault the work rate, we dug in and we were there for each other.”
Assistant manager, Rick Tate, also spoke of his delight at the players’ mentality in the game: “We needed something like that (the opening goal) to get us out of the position we found ourselves in after Izzy went off injured.
“That was just what we needed and most of all we came out in the second-half on the up really. Oakwood got back in the game, but we held strong at the back.”
Finally, Wilde added: “We have a lot of players who have just stepped up to open age football and that can be very difficult to manage. I said to the girls if you don’t get a lot of time on the pitch it’s not a reflection on you it’s a reflection on the game.”
(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: (Bexhill United-Oakwood)
Goals: 2-0; Shots: 13-15; Shots-on-Target: 6-5; Corners: 3-5; Fouls: 7-6; Offside: 0-3; Yellows: 1-0; Reds: 0-0.
Bexhill United: Tucker, Kemp, Compton, Robertson, Cook, G. Beckett, Foot, D. Beckett, Mitchell, Pier, Knight.
Subs: Jacobs, Swarbrooke, Bryant, Payne, Roote.
Oakwood: Laker, Page, Love, Sheppard, Killick-Bird, McDonnell, Tyler, Daly, Kendall, Higham, Hill.
Subs: Knight, Morley, Vilciu, Hoare, Delaney.
Match Report by Jack Towers