REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 4 Hounslow 0

Charlotte Owen tucks away her first goal for Crawley Wasps (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps made it two wins from two in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division with a 4-0 victory over Hounslow on Sunday.

Summer signing Charlotte Owen’s 12th minute opener was just reward for a bright start, but Wasps laboured after that against a well-organised Hounslow, formerly QPR Ladies, who had lost their opening game 9-0 to Yeovil.

However, three goals in a 10-minute period late in the second half gave the scoreline a gloss that was perhaps a tad harsh on the hard-working visitors.

Early on, it looked as though it would be a long afternoon for Hounslow as Wasps dominated. Tash Stephens and Naomi Cole both went close, before Hounslow keeper Gillian Kasiyre blocked bravely in the midst of a goalmouth scramble.

Owen provided the breakthrough, pouncing from close range after Rachel Palmer’s corner wasn’t cleared. But the floodgates didn’t open, as Faye Rabson poked narrowly wide of the far post after a burst of pace and Rebecca Carter shot straight at Kasiyre when clean through.

GALLERY: For more of Ben Davidson’s photos from the Hounslow game, CLICK HERE.

The introduction early in the second half of last season’s top scorer Kemina Webber and lively winger Maria Ledezma-Viso gave extra life to the Wasps attack, and Webber converted on 66 minutes after Naomi Cole’s deflected shot fell into her path.

That led to a spell of Wasps domination. Cole tucked away a penalty after Hope Nash was clipped in the box and Carter – on her third ‘debut’ following her return to the club – fizzed a shot into the net after a fine run and cross from Ledezma-Viso.

Hounslow’s only serious threat came late on, but Sue Kumaning’s free-kick was brilliantly turned away by 17-year-old Wasps keeper Lauren Graves, making only her third league appearance.

Wasps: Graves; Nash, James, Russell, Palmer (Niamh Stephenson 72); Cole, Owen (Webber 55); Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 55), Fleischman, Rabson; Carter. Sub not used: Drury.

Wasps travel to Chichester on Wednesday (kick off 7.45pm).

MATCH REPORT: Oxford United 0 Crawley Wasps 1

Crawley Wasps unveiled their new change strip at Oxford United (Picture: Liam Potter)

Captain Naomi Cole proved the hero as Crawley Wasps won 1-0 at Oxford United to book their place in the main draw of the FA Women’s National League Cup.

Cole struck five minutes from time, capitalising on a defensive error before beating U’s goalkeeper Paris Sercombe.

It was the second time in two seasons that Wasps had won away at Oxford in this competition – they beat them 3-1 after extra time en route to last season’s final.

Paul Walker’s side were without several key players for the trip. Midfielder Jenny Drury and winger Emma Plewa were both ruled out through illness and injury, playmaker Megan Stow through suspension and striker Rebecca Carter away.

GALLERY: For more of Liam Potter’s pictures, CLICK HERE.

They suffered a further blow when summer signing Sam Pittuck, who scored on her debut in the 2-0 win over Plymouth the previous week, limped off.

Chances were at a premium in the first half, as both teams battled hot conditions at Oxford City FC.

After the break, Wasps ‘keeper Frankie Gibbs fielded a shot from Immy Lancaster, while at the other end sub Hope Nash’s fine ball in could not be converted.

With extra-time once again looming, Cole – who had denied Oxford the win last season with an injury-time equaliser – nipped in to score.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson (Nash 48), James, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Owen; Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 63), Fleischman, Rabson; Pittuck (Young 22).

Wasps are back in FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division action this Sunday (September 1) with a home game against Hounslow, at East Grinstead Town’s East Court ground (kick off 2pm).

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.