Brighton make history in Women’s Cup
Brighton & Hove Albion won the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup for the eighteenth time but for the first time as a Development Squad after a 3-1 win against Crawley Wasps in last night’s final.
Goals from Alisha Mainwaring, Josie Longhurst and Lulu Jarvis guided the Under-21 side towards victory as an efficient Brighton side made the most of their chances.
The opening stages started off in even fashion, with both failing to create any meaningful opportunities in the early parts of the game. Brighton tested Crawley with the first great chances, with Mainwaring being denied by some excellent Sekara Goodall defending.
The first booking of the game fell to Brighton’s Lea Cordier after a tackle on Crawley’s Natasha Stephens. The resulting free kick from Rachel Palmer was unsuccessful.
The Wasps threatened again but Phoebe Murton’s effort was straight at Brighton goalkeeper Frankie Angel. This woke up Brighton up, but Crawley still continued to control the game.
However, it was Brighton who scored the opening goal. Juliet Arimoro caused danger on the right-hand side with her blistering pace and her attempt to find Mainwaring was cleared for a corner.
The resulting corner from Cordier found the head of Mainwaring and into the bottom right corner to give Brighton the lead in the 25 minutes in.
Brighton almost doubled their lead moments later as Cordier once again put in an excellent kick, her cross testing the near post of the Crawley net. Brighton would then eventually get their second goal as Cordier was once again at the forefront.
After a short pass and one-two with Lulu Jarvis, her cross found Josie Longhurst whose header at the far post gave their side a 2-0 lead shortly before half-time.
Brighton were the more clinical and scored with both their shots on target. Crawley did have one more chance with virtually the last kick of the first-half, but Florence Jackson hit her shot just wide of the post.
The second-half started with the trailing side once again threatening but failing to find the net. Captain Naomi Cole’s corner was cleared away, before Palmer’s effort was deflected for another corner. Palmer took it but it failed to test Angel.
Brighton responded down the other end of the pitch, with Arimoro threatening towards goal only for her effort to whisper just to the right of the goal. They threatened to make it 3-0 but Goodall was once again the saviour at the back for Crawley to deny substitute Leah Lane.
Crawley’s Cole caused danger for the side ahead as she had not one, not two but three corners test Angel at the near post of the Brighton net. These were denied by some resolute defending. They would soon get their goal to half the deficit and make it 2-1 in the with under 20 minutes to go.
After a brilliant through ball, Hope Nash’s effort was saved by Angel before being bundled in by Stevens.
With five minutes to go, after an initial flick on, Brighton made it 3-1 as Jarvis’ effort found the bottom corner and the net to seal them the win and the trophy.
Holly Talbot-Smith won the Wasps a corner as they attempted to get back into the game. Palmer’s cross was cleared only to find Cole, with appeals from their captain for a handball. This was not given from referee David Joseph.
They would continue to threaten with set piece after set piece and were were put in a great position after a foul from Faith Nukuthula on Stephens just outside the box but could not make the chance count.
Time soon ran out for Crawley as the final whistle was blown. In the end, Brighton were crowned champions. Becoming the first youth side to win the competition made manager Sinead Fitzsimons very proud.
“To me, whether they won or not, I would just be happy with the performance. For them, it’s the first youth team to ever win it. There were some nervous and they were honest and open about feeling anxious. The main thing is that they stayed together and got through that moment.
“The future for them is that they have their own pathway. We want them to go on and strive into women’s first teams. We’ve got some players that are signed to women’s first teams and hopefully they go onto our first team.”
Meanwhile, Wasps manager Logue spoke of the team’s disappointing loss. He said: “We don’t want to have to wait until we go 2-0 down to get to start playing. We should be starting like that.
“The players are disappointed. You can see it and hear it and even in the game they weren’t happy. This is one that we’ve unfortunately not been able to win but we’ve still got two that we can go for.”
(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: (Crawley Wasps-Brighton & Hove Albion) Goals (1-3), Shots (9-11), Shots-on-target (2-6), Fouls (2-7), Offsides (1-2), Yellow Cards (0-4), Red Cards (0-0).
Crawley Wasps: Goldsmid, Talbot-Smith, Palmer, Goodall, Russell, Cole, Gibson, Edwards, Stephens, Murton, Jackson.
Subs: Nash, MacLeod, Lancaster, Plewa, Howard.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Angel, Arimoro, Mainwaring, Cordier, Jarvis, Longhurst, Nukuthula, Jones, Cotton, Miller, Curran.
Subs: Jenkins (GK), White, Larkin, Lane, Schreimaier.
Match Report by Andy Davies