REACTION: Boss Walker “immensely proud” of Wasps

Paul Walker speaks to the media after Crawley Wasps’ 0-4 defeat to Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup (Picture: Ben Davidson –

Crawley Wasps manager Paul Walker said he was “immensely proud” of his side’s display in their Women’s FA Cup defeat by the giants of Arsenal.

The amateurs restricted the full-time professionals to just two goals in either half – quite a feat given the gulf in stature between the two clubs – and more than played their part in an entertaining game in front of a sell-out 1,550 crowd at Oakwood FC.

“We came up against a top side in Arsenal but I’d be very surprised if anybody thought there were three levels difference between the squads,” Walker said.

“There were times where we didn’t see a lot of the ball but the discipline we showed to keep the shape, close the space down and make it difficult for Arsenal in periods of the game was admirable.”

Frankie Gibbs (left) and Metrobus player of the match Megan Stow (Picture: Ben Davidson –

Goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs, who made several good saves in the second half, said: “It was one of those games where you always knew there was going to be a lot to do, but you hope that you’re able to do enough to keep it to a respectable scoreline.

“It was a proud moment to see all those people who had come to watch us give Arsenal a game.”

Midfielder Megan Stow, who was named Wasps’ player of the match by sponsors Metrobus, added: “Once we got into our stride, we played some good football. We need to take the confidence from this and believe we can play at a much higher level.”

Walker, who is also the club’s chairman, said the crowd – more than double that which watched Brighton play Manchester United – could act as a springboard for the club’s future.

A crowd of 1,550 packed into Oakwood’s Tinsley Lane ground (Picture: Ben Davidson –

“That’s a Women’s Super League-level crowd,” he said. “It shows the excitement we generated across the town with Arsenal’s visit and is another step towards putting Crawley Wasps on the map.”

Wasps also drew praise from Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro, who said: “All credit to Crawley, they’ve put on an amazing showcase. I take my hat off to them – there’s an amazing amount of volunteers at grassroots level. Crawley should be applauded.”

REPORT: Battling Wasps fall to Arsenal in front of record crowd
GALLERY: See Ben Davidson’s extensive picture gallery here

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 0 Arsenal 4

Wasps captain Naomi Cole shakes the hand of Arsenal’s 16-year-old hat-trick scorer Ruby Grant. (Picture: Ben Davidson –

Crawley Wasps’ Women’s FA Cup run was ended by the professionals of Arsenal on Sunday – but they won many admirers in keeping the score respectable in front of a stunning crowd of 1,550.

Although the injury-hit Gunners made six changes from their 3-0 win over Reading in the Women’s Super League, their starting XI still included seven internationals – including their captain, Scotland’s Kim Little, and Netherlands midfielder Danielle van de Donk.

Wasps, meanwhile, were missing ex-Wales winger Emma Plewa through injury but were able to call on former England youth internationals Naomi Cole and Charlotte Young.

Arsenal dominated territory and possession but in the first half they were mostly repelled by an industrious Wasps, with Young and centre-back partner Darcey James excelling.

GALLERY: For more pictures from the Arsenal game, CLICK HERE

It took 17 minutes for the Gunners to break through as they capitalised on a rare defensive error, Katie McCabe feeding Little, who drilled into the bottom left-hand corner.

But if the crowd at Tinsley Lane – more than double that which saw Brighton play Manchester United at Crawley Town earlier in the day – feared the floodgates would open, Wasps proved them wrong with some snappy work in midfield and crisp passing football on the break.

However they were undone again just before the break as Denmark winger Katrine Veje sped past Niamh Stephenson and laid the ball across for 16-year-old Ruby Grant, who fired home.

Arsenal replaced Little at half-time with England midfielder Leah Williamson, and the Gunners created more chances – Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs twice denying Veje.

Ruby Grant fires past Frankie Gibbs to score her second and Arsenal’s third. Picture: Ben Davidson (

Kemina Webber’s introduction for Wasps did give Arsenal’s defence more to think about, but Grant grabbed her second and the visitors’ third after being played in by Ava Kuyken.

Wasps had a great chance to score the goal their hard work merited when Faye Rabson skipped clear, but the experienced Sari Van Veenendaal stood up well to block her shot.

And teenager Grant completed her hat-trick late on – but the result was always secondary to the valiant performance and the outstanding crowd on the biggest day in Wasps’ history.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, Young, James, Palmer; Drury (Russell 66), Cole; Fleischman (Webber 60), Stow, Rabson; Heather (Davies 90). Subs not used: Graves, Measures, Ward, Woollard.

Arsenal: Van Veenendaal; Dawbarn, Quinn, Arnth, McCabe (Albuquerque 62); Van de Donk (Hazard 62), Little (Williamson 46), Grant; Filis, Kuyken, Veje. Subs not used: Peyraud-Magnin, Mead.

REACTION: Walker “immensely proud”, Arsenal boss praises Wasps

ARSENAL: Ground, tickets and kick-off time confirmed

Crawley Wasps are delighted to confirm the details for our SSE Women’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Arsenal – which will form part of an exciting double-header in the town on Sunday February 3rd.

We will face the 14-time winners of the competition at our usual home ground of Tinsley Lane, Oakwood FC, with a 3pm kick-off.

Tickets will be £5 for adults, £2 for concessions and £1 for those 16 or under, and can be purchased NOW from the following link:

Depending on the level of tickets sold in advance online, a certain number of tickets will be available on the gate. We strongly urge supporters to buy in advance online to avoid disappointment.

And the kick-off of Brighton & Hove Albion’s game with Manchester United, at Crawley Town’s People’s Pension Stadium, has been brought forward to 12.30pm to enable fans to see both matches. We extend our thanks to Arsenal, Brighton, Manchester United, Crawley Town and the FA for their co-operation in making this happen.

More information about the day will be released over the coming weeks, but if you have any further queries, email

NEWS: Wasps to host Arsenal in Women’s FA Cup!

Crawley Wasps will host 14-time winners Arsenal in the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup after the draw was made on Monday morning.

The incredible tie was pulled out of the hat live on BBC Radio 1Xtra by breakfast show host A.Dot, as another piece of club history was made.

The match against the Gunners – who currently sit top of the Women’s Super League, some 34 places above Wasps in the pyramid – is scheduled to take place on Sunday 3 February.

Wasps are one of only three teams in the fourth tier – alongside AFC Wimbledon and Keynsham Town – to be in the last 32, following Sunday’s dramatic win at Coventry United.

“So many people talk about the magic of the cup and how people dream of draws such as this,” manager Paul Walker said.

Crawley Wasps booked their place in the fourth round with a win at Coventry United. REPORT >>

“It happened to Crawley Town when they had a fantastic cup run and drew Manchester United away and did the town proud. Now the magic of the cup has come to Crawley Wasps.

“This is a wonderful reward for the squad and the club as a whole. On and off the field, we’ve put in an enormous amount of work to build us up to where we are now.

“The brand of Crawley Wasps is becoming more widely known and respected, the progress is being recognised and this is now a chance to showcase the club to a wide audience.”

Arsenal have reached 10 of the last 13 Women’s FA Cup finals and won it four times in a row between 2006 and 2009. Their only defeat in 15 matches this season in all competitions was the 2-0 loss at Manchester City last month.

The Gunners squad includes England internationals Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs and Beth Mead, Scotland star Kim Little and Dutch hotshot Vivianne Miedema.

IN THE MEDIA: Hear Wasps reaction to Arsenal draw

Manager Paul Walker told BBC Sussex: “The magic of the FA Cup is coming to Crawley Wasps.” (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps players Naomi Cole and Charlotte Young, plus boss Paul Walker, gave their reaction on BBC radio this week to the exciting Women’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Arsenal.

Manager Walker and captain Cole spoke to BBC Sussex’s Sarah Gorrell, and you can hear that by clicking here and scrolling to 40:30.

Meanwhile, defender Young was interviewed by BBC Surrey’s Mike Buxton – click here for that and scroll to 27:00.

REPORT & GALLERY: Coventry United 1 Crawley Wasps 2

Crawley Wasps celebrate reaching the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup after winning at Coventry United.

Darcey James’s injury-time winner saw Crawley Wasps stun higher-division Coventry United on Sunday and book a history-making tie with Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup fourth round.

As extra-time loomed, centre-back James nodded in Naomi Cole’s corner to spark celebrations – but victory was only confirmed after goalline clearances from Ariana Fleischman and Niamh Stephenson.

It means Wasps have won all 18 games this season in all competitions – and now face the Women’s Super League leaders.

After a low-quality first 20 minutes, on a bumpy surface, Coventry – the unbeaten leaders of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier – went in front as a cross from the right was swept home by Amber Hughes.

But Wasps hit back immediately, Faye Rabson touching Stephenson’s cross into the path of Fleischman, who lashed into the far corner. Naomi Cole then fizzed a shot inches wide.

GALLERY: For more of Jeff Bennett’s photos from the Coventry United game, CLICK HERE

HIGHLIGHTS: See the best of the action from the game here >>

Paul Walker’s side had to dig deep in the second half as Coventry pressed but Wasps were always a threat on the counter, with Megan Stow curling an effort against the upright.

Coventry went even closer as a hooked shot smacked against the underside of the bar, while only an outstanding tackle from Charlotte Young denied the hosts an 89th minute opportunity.

That proved to be a match-saver as James headed in – and the reward will come on February 3.

First goalscorer Fleischman said: “I had just a second to look up and tried to go for the corner, with placement.

“I’m just proud of the girls today, we picked each other up when we went 1-0 down and we got that goal.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, Young, James, Palmer; Drury (Davies 84), Cole; Fleischman, Stow, Rabson; Heather. Subs not used: Graves, Measures, Russell, C. Carter.

PREVIEW: Wasps ready to face Coventry in FA Cup

Crawley Wasps face Coventry United in a history-making Women’s FA Cup tie this Sunday.

Crawley Wasps face arguably the most important game in the club’s 27-year history on Sunday when they travel to Coventry United in the third round of the Women’s FA Cup.

Wasps have not reached this stage of the competition before and victory over higher-division Coventry would put them in the fourth-round hat alongside Women’s Super League giants such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Opponents Coventry are top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, the third tier of the women’s game and one above Wasps.

But boss Paul Walker insists his side will not be overawed, particularly after overcoming Chichester – who sit second behind Coventry – in the previous round.

“It’s going to be a tough game but the squad is highly motivated,” he said.

Wasps beat Chichester City in the second round (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

“It’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s the furthest we’ve ever been in this competition but we’re probably better equipped to take on this level of opposition than we’ve ever been.

“If we can get a result at Coventry, who knows who we might draw? We could have an amazing day for Crawley as a club and a town if we win. And it’ll be another step towards putting us on the map.

“I know their manager and she will have done her homework on us, as we have on them. It’s going to be a very exciting game.”

Wasps have already dispatched Denham United, Chesham United, QPR Development and Chichester, winning £2,800 for the club – with a further £1,000 up for grabs to whoever wins on Sunday.

Kick off at Daventry Town FC is 1pm.

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 2 Chichester City 0

Darcey James heads in Wasps’ second against Chichester (Picture: Ben Davidson –

Crawley Wasps created another piece of club history on Sunday by beating higher-division Chichester City 2-0 to reach the third round of the Women’s FA Cup for the first time.

Headers from Kemina Webber and Darcey James late in the first half, and a resolute defensive display after the break, secured Wasps a trip to FA Women’s National League Southern Premier leaders Coventry United on 6 January.

Chichester sit second in that division and started as favourites but after 15 wins out of 15 this season in all competitions, Wasps were not overawed by the one-league gap.

Chi keeper Lauren Dolbear did well amid a goalmouth scramble to deny Charlotte Young and James, before twice blocking from Faye Rabson.

Wasps eventually broke through when Webber beat Dolbear to Rachel Palmer’s corner and doubled their lead with James nodding in Naomi Cole’s delivery.

GALLERY: For more photos from the Chichester City game, CLICK HERE

Chi applied pressure in the second half, with Jade Widdows’ hooked shot going narrowly over and Laura Ingram’s header coming back off the post, but Wasps held out.

“I was delighted with the performance,” said Wasps boss Paul Walker. “In the first half, we were patient, we kept the ball well, we created opportunities. We unlocked it through a couple of set plays but had a number of other chances.

“Chi are a very good side and second half they came more into it. I was very pleased with the discipline of the second half. We repelled quite a lot of pressure and did it with composure.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young, Palmer; Drury, Cole; Heather, Stow, Rabson; Webber (Fleischman). Subs not used: Graves, Measures, Russell, Davies.

REPORT: Crawley Wasps 9 Denham United 0

Kemina Webber scored twice in the 9-0 win over Denham United (Picture: Dave Burt –

Crawley Wasps warmed up for next weekend’s Women’s FA Cup second-round clash with Chichester by beating a young Denham United 9-0 in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday.

Six different players found the net as Wasps made it 15 wins from 15 in all competitions this season and stretched their unbeaten league run to 25 matches, dating back to March 2017.

It also guaranteed they will be top of the National League Division One South table until at least mid-January, in their first level at this season.

Wasps raced into a 4-0 lead after half an hour. Kemina Webber’s flicked header from Naomi Cole’s corner opened the scoring, while Sian Heather bunded in the second from Emma Plewa’s cross.

Former Wales international Plewa got the next two, first reacting quickest when Webber’s shot came back off the bar, and then slotting in after Heather had poked past the advancing goalkeeper.

Denham competed well for periods after the break but Wasps racked up three goals in as many minutes midway through the half.

Left-back Rachel Palmer fizzed in a shot from 30 yards, Heather crossed for Webber to make it 6-0 and midfielder Megan Stow’s low drive found the bottom corner.

Stow then set up Heather and Jenny Drury hooked in the ninth after Ariana Fleischman’s searching cross.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James (Russell 75), Young, Palmer; Drury. Cole; Heather, Stow, Plewa (Fleischman 47); Webber (Davies 72). Sub not used: Graves.