Seagulls triumph over determined Wasps
Brighton & Hove Albion won the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup on Thursday night for the second year in a row after beating Crawley Wasps 0-3.
This is Brighton’s nineteenth Women’s Cup win in their history, and they secured it in front of 280 fans at Culver Road, plus many more tuning in online to the live stream.
The Wasps put up a solid fight, but they simply were unable to cope with the speed and clinical nature of Brighton’s play; and more specifically with Leah Lane and Chelsea Ferguson, the evening’s goal-scorers.
Crawley began the game convincingly, pressing as a team and creating several good chances, with Natalie Taylor missing the goal by mere centimeters just after three minutes.
However, Brighton soon found their groove, combing well and getting the ball into dangerous areas.
The turning point of the half came when Crawley’s Holly Talbut-Smith gave away a penalty when the ball struck her arm after some unfortunate miss control.
Brighton’s Lane stepped up, held her nerve, and slotted the penalty home in the 14th minute.
Crawley did not deflate, however, and continued pressing Brighton into their half, with captain Buyukgiray continuing to be their most dangerous attacking threat, with one shot well struck from distance, but was well covered by Brighton’s keeper Frankie Angel.
Yet with the seconds ticking down to half-time, Buyukgiray was gifted an opportunity to get Wasps level, as a poor pass from Angel fell to her, but was unable to keep her powerfully struck effort on target.
The break saw Brighton leading 0-1 thanks to Lane’s penalty, but the first-half was quite an even contest for both sides.
The second-half saw both teams trade chances again, but luck was on Brighton’s side as they doubled their lead through Lane again in the 51st minute, who nodded in her header from close range, after a great assist from Ella Humphrey.
Just over ten minutes later Brighton slotted in their third and final goal for the evening – Ferguson curling the ball into the net with a wonderful strike from distance.
The Wasps fought until the very end, with shots from Amelia Ajao in the 76th minute and Letitia Nicholls in the 83rd denied solidly by Angel in the Brighton goal.
In the end, despite Crawley’s best efforts, Brighton held firm for the clean sheet to retain the trophy.
Speaking after match, Brighton’s manager, Sinead Hogan-Belcher, spoke of her delight with her team’s performance:
“They [the players] are absolutely buzzing. I think the proudest thing for them was keeping the clean sheet, obviously after last year, as we didn’t keep a clean sheet back then,” she said.
When asked about the culture in the dressing room currently, she said:
“Really calm. I think that calmness can really come into the game and really make an impact. They’re a lot more mature.
I think technically they are outstanding as well. They just stayed on the ball and moved the ball quickly.”
Finally, she praised every player for their performance this evening.
“Each individual added something to the team so credit to all of them!” she said.
(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 (0-3); Shots (17-11); Shots-on-target (10-8); Corners (2-1); Fouls (9-9); Yellow cards (2-2); Red cards (0-0).
Crawley Wasps: Gross, Talbut-Smith, Hynes, Taylor, M. Searle, T. Searle, Chong, Franklin, Ajao, Jackson, Buyukgiray (C).
Subs: Fogarty, Nicholls, Jones, Garcia, Chester.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Angel, Payne, Ferguson, Mundle, Dent, Venditto, Cotton, Lane, Curran (C), Mitchell, Milner.
Subs: Carpenter, Humphrey, Ginger, Miller, Eze.