Mixed fortunes for Wasps against Old Actonians

Holly Walker’s second-half goal could not inspire a comeback in Wasps’ latest friendly, which ended in a 3-1 defeat to Old Actonians at Ewhurst.

However, in the reserve-team encounter between the two sides , we ran out 6-2 victors, helped by Natalie Stephenson’s brace.

After defeats to Gillingham and Brighton in the last seven days, Wasps faced yet more higher-level opposition as part of a testing start to our pre-season schedule.

Old Actonians were promoted from the London and South East Premier Division in 2014-15 and last season finished 10th in the Women’s Premier League, beating Wasps in the FA Cup.

But it was the hosts who started the brightest in the first 20 minutes and had the best early chances, Walker hitting the underside of the bar with a header from Stephenson’s corner, and Rosanne Fine forcing a save from Rachel Hillman – the Wasps keeper guesting for Old Actonians in the first period. The visitors also had a goal ruled out late in the half for offside.

Old Actonians did break through in the second half, though, a cross eluding the Wasps defence before being swept in and when they doubled their lead the game appeared to be safe.

But Wasps kept plugging away, Kelly Barton striking the bar with a free-kick, and Walker’s effort from the edge of the box gave hope of a comeback.

That was not to be though as, virtually straight from kick-off, a long ball dissected the Wasps defence and left the Old Actonians forward with a simple finish.

The reserves, however, enjoyed better fortunes after two emphatic strikes from Stephenson.

Charlotte Barnham, Rebecca Dunt, Faye Charles – on her debut after signing from Shoreham & Adur – and Zoe Martin were also on target as the reserves followed up last weekend’s 1-0 loss to a youthful Gillingham.

Ladies 1st team Sussex FA Challenge Cup Final

There was no trophy for Crawley Wasps but they won numerous admirers after a fine performance against Brighton and Hove Albion in the Sussex FA Challenge Cup final.

While the 5-1 scoreline may seem emphatic on paper, Wasps had been 4-0 down at half-time and yet more than held their own after the break against a side destined for the Women’s Super League next season.

In front of 282 fans at Culver Road, Lancing, Wasps were also responsible for the best goal of the night – a 30-yard strike from Rebecca Carter – and the best save, as Colleen Donovan palmed away a shot headed for the top corner.

With containment in mind initially, Wasps boss Paul Walker opted for a 4-5-1 formation. Catherine Poleykett started in goal, with Natalie Stephenson, skipper Hannah Duncan, Gemma Villette and Michelle Ward in front of her.

Former Lewes striker Faye Rabson played out wide, with Sarah Roberts, Jade Simmons, Suzanne Davies and Aston Worsfold making up a combative five across the midfield and Carter working hard on her own up front.

Albion fielded five of the first-team squad that currently sit top of the FA Women’s Premier League. But it was 16-year-old Bronwen Thomas who did the most damage with a well-taken hat-trick, breaking Wasps’ resistance after 16 minutes.

Brighton had already had the ball in the net a couple of times, denied by the linesman’s flag on both occasions, and had struck the woodwork, before Premier League regular Kate Natkiel slipped in Thomas for the opener.

Another first-teamer, Lucy Somes, then crossed for Ellie Dorey to net Albion’s second before Natkiel again set up Thomas for the third goal. The teenager completed her treble five minutes before half-time.

With two quality goalkeepers on their books, Wasps opted to replace Poleykett at the break and give Donovan a chance, while a tactical tweak saw Rabson join Carter up front to pose Brighton more problems.

The change worked, as Wasps won the ball higher up the park and made Brighton work harder for every opportunity – and when they had efforts on goal, Donovan dealt with them.

Eight minutes from time came the reward. Carter picked up a loose ball and, spotting keeper Nina Wilson off her line, clipped a fine effort over her head, to rapturous cheers.

Albion may have had the last word, when Kim Stenning added a fifth goal late on, but to draw the half was just reward for 45 minutes of hard graft.

Afterwards, Walker said: “I think we did ourselves proud. In the second half we were tactically a lot sharper.

“At 4-0, the game was gone from us so we had to refocus at half-time and try and get back to some of the tactical play we’d worked on before the game.

“We’ve got an excellent squad at Wasps and our challenge in the league is to bring that performance out consistently.”

Walker added he hoped reaching the final would raise the profile of the club, whose reserves and under-14s have also reached their County Cup finals.

He said: “What I hope it has done is showcase our footballing ability, which should help us attract new players, and make us more attractive to sponsors as we go into our 25-year anniversary.

“I hope it also gives the current squad a real confidence in their ability to perform at that level.”

Crawley Wasps: Poleykett (Donovan 46); Stephenson (Tibble 54), Duncan, Villette, Ward; Rabson, Worsfold (Dunt 78), Davies, Simmons, Roberts; Carter. Subs not used: Walker, Tubb.

Ladies 1st Team Hit 5 before the Christmas Break

Crawley Wasps returned to winning ways with a fine 5-1 victory over last season’s league runners-up Carshalton Athletic.

Wasps recovered from conceding an early deflected goal to dominate proceedings at Ewhurst, and got their reward before the break, when a Natalie Stephenson penalty and a thundering header from Jade Simmons put them 2-1 in front.
And they didn’t look back as the second half got underway, scoring early through Rebecca Carter to extend their lead, as the striker’s wide effort snuck in the far post with the Carshalton goalkeeper stranded.
Wasps made it 4-1 shortly after through Faye Rabson and then survived a spell of Carshalton pressure, in which the visitors hit the post, before Carter put the result beyond any doubt with a deft chip over the Carshalton goalkeeper.
Lauren Callaghan was inches away from making it six with a fine first-time strike from distance, but Wasps will be happy with their performance and go into the Christmas break on a high.
Man of the Match: Gemma Villette


Poor display sees Wasps drop first home points of the season

Crawley Wasps battled back from a goal down at half-time to share the points with Fulham, in a match the hosts will be looking to put behind them as quickly as possible.

Following last week’s impressive 5-0 win over Bexhill United, Wasps were looking for another top display as Fulham came to Three Bridges.

But the visitors started much the brighter and Wasps failed to get their passing game going in the first half, as they struggled to contain Fulham’s pace.

A mistake at the back allowed Fulham to take a deserved lead midway through the first half, but despite the poor display, Wasps were still in contention at the break.

And the hosts came out much stronger in the second half, with Michelle Ward and Beks Dunt introduced to the action.

They took the game to Fulham from the restart and eventually got their reward when Dunt bundled home a cross from Lauren Callaghan after an hour.

It still won’t go down as one of their better performances of the season, and a Ward clearance off the line denied Fulham a second goal, but another goal-line clearance at the other end prevented Rebecca Carter snatching all three points for Wasps at the death.

Wasps travel to high-flying London Corinthians next weekend.

Five Goal Thriller for Ladies 1st Team

After the disappointment of their 2-1 defeat at league leaders AFC Wimbledon in their last outing, Crawley Wasps returned to winning ways in style, seeing off Bexhill United 5-0 thanks to a dominant display.

Wasps came racing out of the blocks at Ewhurst on Sunday, taking control from the first whistle and never relenting. Their early possession and pressure paid off after 10 minutes, when Rebecca Carter fired the home side in front.

And it wasn’t long before a great long-range strike from Jade Simmons doubled their lead.

A brilliant display of passing and moving meant Wasps created chance after chance and summer signing Gemma Villette made it three midway through the half, firing in a left-footed effort from a corner.

Not long after, the hosts were out of sight when a drilled cross from Carter was tapped home by Toni Smith, before substitute Beks Dunt hit Wasps’ fifth before the break.

Bexhill upped their game in the second half but Wasps could have extended their lead further, with efforts from Carter and Faye Rabson cleared off the line, and the visitors’ goalkeeper denying both Carter and Smith in one-on-ones.

Lisa Richards fired a shot narrowly over the bar late on but a lack of a second-half goal takes nothing away from Wasps’ excellent performance, which allowed stand-in goalkeeper Natalie Stephenson an easy afternoon.

Wasps host Fulham next Sunday at Three Bridges, 2pm kick-off.

Opposition Player of the Match: Toni Smith

Match Report – AFC Wimbledon

Crawley Wasps were left frustrated after suffering a 2-1 defeat at league-leaders AFC Wimbledon, despite a dominant first-half display.

A trip to AFC Wimbledon, who are unbeaten in the league so far this campaign, was always going to prove a tough test for Wasps, but they started the brighter of the two sides at Sutton United’s Gander Green Lane ground.

Despite an early warning as The Dons hit the bar, Wasps quickly settled into their passing game on the 3G surface and took the game to the hosts, who were clearly rattled by not having things all their own way.

And the visitors made the most of their good start when Lauren Callaghan forced a defensive mistake and coolly slotted the ball past the hosts’ goalkeeper to give Wasps the early advantage.

Wasps were keen to maintain the pressure and continued to win the ball in midfield through Aston Worsfold and Jade Simmons.

Callaghan was causing the Wimbledon defence so many problems it left strike partners Toni Smith and Rebecca Carter with plenty of space and the latter had the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be ruled offside. Carter could have extended Wasps’ lead again, but fired her shot narrowly wide with the keeper beaten.

Wasps had another chance to extend their lead but couldn’t get the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble. And at the other end, Hannah Duncan and Gemma Villette kept Wimbledon at bay following the hosts’ own scrappy set-piece.

Despite possession and chances however, Wasps failed to add to their one-goal lead going into the break and were made to pay in the second half. Wimbledon came out of the blocks much faster and never really let up, equalising after 56 minutes before finding what proved to be the winning goal mid-way through the half. A point-blank save from Catherine Poleykett kept Wasps in contention but despite throwing everything at the hosts, they couldn’t find the equaliser.

Oppositions Player of Match : Rebecca Carter

Crawley now have a week off before facing Bexhill United at Three Bridges on November 8.

Ladies 1st Team Through to Sussex County Cup Semi Final

Crawley Wasps progressed to the semi-finals of the Sussex County Cup with a comfortable 6-0 victory over a depleted Eastbourne Town. With the opposition only able to field nine players, Wasps were in cruise control for the majority of the game and went into half-time 3-0 up, thanks to a Rebecca Carter hat-trick.

The second-half was much the same despite Wasps making three changes after the break, and they put another three past the Eastbourne goalkeeper, through a Suzie Davies brace and a strike from Toni Smith.

Wasps will now travel to Burgess Hill Town, of the South East Counties Women’s Premier Division, in the semi-final in February.

Managers Player of the match : Rebecca Carter

Opposition’s player of the match: Rebecca Carter