MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 2 Plymouth Argyle 0

Sam Pittuck (facing camera) celebrates her debut goal against Plymouth with Megan Stow (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

New signings Sam Pittuck and Tash Stephens both hit brilliant finishes as Crawley Wasps beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 on Sunday in their FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division opener.

Having earned back-to-back promotions, Wasps proved they could compete in the third tier of women’s football, with spells of attractive football allied to grit and defensive solidity.

They made a quick start at East Grinstead Town – Megan Stow forced a good early save from Plymouth keeper Rebekah Kyle, with Faye Rabson volleying against the bar from the resulting corner.

At the other end, Jessie Jones went close for Plymouth while Wasps’ Charlotte Owen came close to a debut goal, firing narrowly wide.

The breakthrough came on 26 minutes. Stephens laid the ball off for Pittuck and the ex-Billericay striker fired into the top corner from 20 yards for a stunning debut goal.

Having pulled that off, there was surprise after the break when Pittuck stabbed against the near post with the goal gaping. However, it mattered little as Stephens doubled the lead with a carbon copy of Pittuck’s strike, after good work from Charlotte Owen.

GALLERY: More of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures will be published shortly.

HIGHLIGHTS: Crawley Wasps 2 Plymouth Argyle 0
VIDEO REACTION: Manager Paul Walker
VIDEO REACTION: Captain Naomi Cole & goalscorer Sam Pittuck

Wasps goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs did brilliantly to first deny Tash Knapman and then Jones, with the home defence working overtime to preserve the clean sheet.

They had to survive the closing stages with 10 men after midfielder Megan Stow was sent off for leaving a foot in after a 50-50 challenge, but that was the only blot on an otherwise excellent start.

Manager Paul Walker said: “To start with three points, with some newbies in the side, I’m delighted, particularly with the strikes by Sam and Tash.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, James, Young, Palmer; Cole, Stow; Stephens (Fleischman 74), Owen (Webber 63), Rabson; Pittuck (Russell 86). Subs not used: Niamh Stephenson, Newman.

Wasps travel to Oxford United in the League Cup this Sunday (August 25), before returning to league action on Sunday September 1 with a home game against Hounslow.

NEWS: Davies heads list of Wasps departures

Suzanne Davies in action against Actonians last season (Picture: Dave Burt)

Crawley Wasps can confirm the departure of five players on the eve of the new season, including long-serving midfielder Suzanne Davies.

Fellow midfielder Amy Green, attackers Amy Woollard and Millie Carter and defender Abbie Measures have also left the club.

Davies, 28, has been with Wasps since the age of seven and rose through our youth ranks to establish herself as a first-team regular over the last decade.

She was part of three promotion-winning squads, in 2009, 2018 and 2019, and played in three consecutive Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup finals, scoring against Brighton & Hove Albion in the 2017 match.

Davies was manager Paul Walker’s player of the season in 2015-16 and scored three league goals last season, against Norwich City, Stevenage and Ipswich.

Amy Green, pictured here against Billericay, is taking a break from football (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

She is now poised to join London & South East Premier Division side Whyteleafe. We thank her for her outstanding contribution to Wasps and wish her well at her new club.

Green, who joined Wasps from Crystal Palace in February, is taking a break from football. She scored twice in 11 appearances last season.

Measures, who joined Wasps from AFC Wimbledon last summer, and Carter, who came across from Portsmouth early in the season, are both moving to Lewes.

Woollard, formerly of Ascot United, has signed dual-forms with AFC Wimbledon.

We wish all of them well and thank them for their performances last season.

SEASON PREVIEW: Captain Cole ‘has enthusiasm back’

Naomi Cole joined Wasps in October 2016 (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

In early 2014, Naomi Cole was part of the same England Under-23s squad as Millie Bright, Fran Kirby, Beth Mead and Nikita Parris – four players who featured at this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

However, within a couple of years, the former Chelsea, Millwall and Lewes defender had, by her own admission, fallen out of love with football.

In October 2016, she was convinced by her father Dave, who had just become assistant manager at Crawley Wasps, to drop into tier five and play in the London & South East Premier Division.

For ambitious Wasps, it was the start of a strategy of attracting players with higher-level experience that paid dividends with promotions in 2018 and 2019. For Cole, it reinvigorated her career.

“People who see me play for Crawley can see how much I enjoy it,” she said. “I’ve got my enthusiasm back and it’s all down to my team-mates and the staff at the club.”

On Sunday, Cole will lead Wasps out against Plymouth Argyle as the club makes its debut in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, the third tier of women’s football – the equivalent of men’s League One.

They will also face the likes of Watford, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Gillingham, MK Dons and Yeovil Town this season.

Naomi Cole was Wasps’ top league goalscorer in 2018-19 (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

And after two years in which they suffered just one league defeat, Cole knows the team will be tested every single week – and wants fans to flock to get behind the team.

“We’ve built up such a reputation but you can’t live off history. This season, there’s going to be five or six sides challenging for the title.

“The buzz has been there from the first session of pre-season. We have made a few signings and kept all of the regulars. You can see that competitiveness in training, everyone is fighting for their place.

“We’re reaching the Crawley community now. People know there’s a team here that shows passion and commitment, a club with people who work hard off the pitch. We all engage with the fans and sponsors. It’s such a great place to play.”

Wasps’ opening game against Plymouth will be played at East Grinstead Town FC (2pm kick off).

INS: Rebecca Carter, Charlotte Owen (both Lewes), Hope Nash (Crystal Palace), Tash Stephens (Chichester), Sam Pittuck (Billericay), Maria Ledesma-Viso (Guiseley), Alex Newman (free agent).
OUTS: Amy Green (sabbatical), Suzanne Davies (Whyteleafe), Millie Carter, Abbie Measures (both Lewes), Amy Woollard (AFC Wimbledon).

This article first appeared in the Crawley & Horley Observer on August 14 2019.

SEASON PREVIEW: Walker confident of competing

“We’ve prepared really well for this campaign, on and off the pitch,” – manager Paul Walker (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Manager Paul Walker insists Crawley Wasps will be able to compete with the top sides in the third tier of women’s football this season.

After back-to-back promotions, Wasps make their debut in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division on Sunday when they host Plymouth Argyle at East Grinstead Town FC (2pm kick off).

They will also take on the likes of Watford, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Gillingham, MK Dons and Yeovil Town this season.

“There’s a lot of anticipation around the club,” Walker said. “We’ve prepared really well for this campaign, on and off the pitch.

“We go into this season with a lot of confidence, but there will be some very strong sides in this division so we’ve got to set a sensible ambition.

“I do expect us to be competing and it’s important for us to get off to a good start.

“Our squad has been used to winning games but it will be a tough game against Plymouth – they’ve had a good pre-season and recruited well.”

Wasps did beat Plymouth 5-3 in extra-time last season on their way to the FA Women’s National League Cup final, and captain Naomi Cole says that result could have a bearing on Sunday’s game.

“We have an understanding of what they’re about,” she said. “They don’t give up, they’re a strong side and it’s going to be a hard game, as they all will be. But we’re fully ready for the task ahead.”

Wasps have also retained all sponsors for this historic new season, while also bringing in Metrobus as a backer.

Walker, also the club’s chairman, added: “We’re on a journey to create an elite women’s football club for the town.”

NEWS: Four join Wasps on eve of new season

 

 

 

 

We are delighted to announce the arrival of four new players ahead of our debut season in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

Forward Sam Pittuck joins from our former Division One South East rivals Billericay Town. The former West Ham and Charlton player scored 18 goals in all competitions last season for the Essex club.

Former Portsmouth winger Tash Stephens has signed for Wasps following her departure from Chichester City. She helped Chi to a third-place finish in the National League Southern Premier Division last season and was part of the side that won the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup.

Fellow winger Maria Ledezma-Viso (pictured) comes to us from Guiseley Vixens, after they sadly folded at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

And ex-Northern Ireland international Alex Newman, who was last with Keynsham Town, has joined us as she returns to football following three years out due to a serious injury.

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 – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

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 – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

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 – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

“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 – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

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 (www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

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: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sse-womenss-fa-cup-crawley-wasps-lfc-vs-arsenal-women-tickets-54861824193.

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 media@crawleywasps.com.

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.