MATCH REPORT: Norwich City 0 Crawley Wasps 6

Megan Stow gets stuck in at Norwich, before a half-time kit change to solve the colour clash (Picture: Brian Coombes)

Crawley Wasps manager Paul Walker says his team’s goal-laden start to the FA Women’s National League season will have made their rivals sit up and take notice.

Having beaten Ipswich Town 5-1 on the opening day of the season, and then edging out Enfield 1-0, Wasps made it three wins from three since promotion by winning 6-0 at Norwich City on Sunday.

Together with their 8-0 win over Ipswich in the League Cup last weekend, it means Wasps have now scored 20 goals in four games and conceded just once.

“People in this league will be keeping an eye on our results,” Walker said. “Most of the sides will view us as one of the contenders but all of the teams at the top will take points off each other.

“The new players have all settled in well. To go to a team established at this level and go away with a 6-0 result is very pleasing.”

Kemina Webber battles with her marker at Plantation Park (Picture: Brian Coombes)

Summer signing Sian Heather put Wasps in front at Plantation Park before Kemina Webber doubled the lead following a Rachel Palmer cross.

Former Wales international Emma Plewa scored on her debut early in the second half after Webber capitalised on a defensive error, with Heather grabbing her second to make it 4-0.

Captain Naomi Cole fired in from distance before substitute Suzanne Davies got on to the scoresheet after great work from Megan Stow.

Wasps top the FA Women’s National League Division 1 South East, ahead of Billericay on goal difference.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young, Palmer; Carter, Cole; Heather (O’Hagan 76), Stow, Plewa (Measures 57); Webber (Davies 57). Sub not used: Graves.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 8 Ipswich Town 0

Megan Stow receives the player of the match award from sponsors Crawley Carpet Warehouse.

Kemina Webber and Megan Stow both scored twice as Crawley Wasps demolished Ipswich Town 8-0 on Sunday to reach the main draw of the FA Women’s National League Cup.

Facing the same opponents they beat 5-1 in their opening league game two weeks ago, Wasps raced into a 5-0 lead by half time.

Sian Heather rifled the hosts in front on 14 minutes from a wide angle, with Faye Rabson close to a second as she drilled just over.

Heather was also involved in the second when her cross was turned in by Webber, on her first appearance of the season.

Stow, who was named player of the match by sponsors Crawley Carpet Warehouse, then drew gasps from the Tinsley Lane crowd with a rocket which flew in from 35 yards.

Two quick goals before the break further underlined Wasps’ control, with Rabson scoring from the edge of the box and Webber then adding her second after a neat turn.

Kemina Webber all smiles after scoring twice (Picture: Ben Walker)

Ipswich switched goalkeepers at the break with former Spurs stopper Toni-Anne Wayne making fine saves to deny Stow, Charlie Carter and Rabson.

But she was beaten in the 73rd minute by Carter’s left-footed shot into the far corner, with Naomi Cole and Stow adding two further goals late on.

Wasps make their longest journey of the season on Sunday when they travel to Norwich City (2pm kick-off).

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young, Palmer (Measures 68); Carter, Cole; Heather, Stow, Rabson (Woollard 71); Webber (Davies 60). Sub not used: Graves.

Rosanne Fine scored all four goals as Crawley Wasps reserves beat newly promoted Lewes Foundation on the opening day of the South East Counties Premier Division season.

Striker Fine completed her hat-trick before the break, with Nicholle Smith setting up all three.

Lauren Callaghan later missed a penalty before Fine added a fourth, for the reserves’ biggest win since April 2017.

Wasps reserves: Samain; Richards, Duncan, Rippin, Ward; N. Smith, Natalie Stephenson, Tibble, Callaghan; Martin, Fine. Subs: Bolton, Svaikevic, Barnham, French, Clark.

MATCH REPORT & GALLERY: Enfield Town 0 Crawley Wasps 1

Stand-in Crawley Wasps skipper Rachel Palmer and goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs were both in fine form at Enfield (Picture: MikeyTheTowner on Flickr)

A much-changed Crawley Wasps side made it two wins from two in the FA Women’s National League as Rachel Palmer’s late free-kick earned them a 1-0 win at Enfield Town.

A hard-fought contest appeared to be heading for a stalemate until the 84th minute, when Megan Stow was fouled and stand-in captain Palmer curled in the set piece.

Wasps were also indebted to goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs for keeping the game goalless to that point with a string of excellent saves.

The victory was made all the more impressive by the fact Wasps were forced into five changes from the team that beat Ipswich 5-1 on the opening weekend, including captain Naomi Cole and last season’s top scorer Faye Rabson.

The changes allowed first starts for summer signings Abbie Measures and Amy Woollard, while longest-serving player Michelle Ward made her FA Women’s National League bow after more than 20 years at the club.

GALLERY: For more photos from the Enfield Town game, CLICK HERE

Gibbs made a superb double save early on as Enfield – who themselves had won 5-1 on the first day – started strongly.

However, Wasps also went close as a free-kick caused chaos in the Enfield box, with Darcey James’ header saved and follow-ups from Woollard and Charlotte Young blocked in a melee.

Gibbs made another crucial save later in the first half and after the break denied both Molly Peters and Sasha Kelly.

Wasps were always a threat on the counter and Enfield keeper Grace Brooks got a crucial touch as Toni Smith stabbed towards goal, before Palmer won it.

Wasps host Ipswich again on Sunday, this time in the League Cup, at Tinsley Lane, Oakwood (2pm kick-off).

Wasps: Gibbs; Measures, James, Palmer, Ward; Young, Carter; Woollard (T. Smith), Stow, Davies; Heather. Subs not used: Samain, Duncan.

MATCH REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 5 Ipswich Town 1

Two-goal Faye Rabson (left) and Sian Heather celebrate (Picture: www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps made a sensational start to life in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday with a 5-1 victory over an Ipswich Town side who finished third in the division last season.

Sian Heather, one of four debutants in the Wasps squad, made an instant impact with two goals and an assist while last season’s top scorer Faye Rabson also grabbed a brace.

It was American midfielder Ariana Fleischman, though, who had the honour of scoring Wasps’ first goal in the fourth tier of women’s football – and it came after just six minutes. Rabson burst past her marker in the left channel and although her shot was blocked, Fleischman finished from close range.

Ipswich keeper Toni-Anne Wayne denied Megan Stow and Rabson as Wasps dominated, and when she was sold short by a team-mate’s backpass on 29 minutes, Rabson nipped in to make it 2-0.

The visitors pulled one back as captain Amanda Crump curled in a fine shot from distance but Wasps restored their two-goal cushion before the break when Heather stabbed in after Wayne saved from Rabson.

GALLERY: For more photos from the Ipswich Town game, CLICK HERE

In the second half, Jenny Drury brought an outstanding save from Wayne but Wasps were not to be thwarted for long – as former Lewes striker Heather took centre stage around the hour mark.

First, she slid in Rabson, who finished coolly, and then produced an exceptional dipping shot from 25 yards which flew over a helpless Wayne.

Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs was alert on the rare occasions she was called upon, while Heather could have had a hat-trick, but was denied by a combination of the keeper and the post.

Manager Paul Walker said: “We executed our gameplan well. We wanted to put them under pressure early on. It’s a long season with some tough games but it’s great to get off to a good start.”

Wasps are on the road this Sunday as they face Enfield Town (2pm kick-off).

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson (Measures 69), James, Young, Palmer; Stow, Cole; Fleischman, Drury (Carter 62), Rabson (Davies 69); Heather. Subs not used: Samain, Webber.

REPORT & PICTURES: Crawley Wasps 5 London Kent Football Utd 1

Captain Naomi Cole gets the title party started at The Haven (Photo: Ben Davidson, www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps popped the champagne corks and completed an unbeaten league season as they beat London Kent Football United 5-1 on Sunday to set the seal on promotion.

Wasps had already secured their place in the FA Women’s Premier League for next season but finished with a flourish at The Haven.

Faye Rabson hit a hat-trick in the space of 24 first-half minutes, the first two coming from spectacular individual runs as her pace caused the visitors no end of problems.

Rachel Palmer drilled in the third after Rabson and Ariana Fleischman had combined well just inside the box, and Rabson completed her treble from Fleischman’s through ball.

Cole then guided a lob beyond the keeper to make it 5-0, before London KFU pulled one back from a penalty harshly awarded against goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs.

As celebration ensued, boss Paul Walker said: “To finish the season undefeated and champions is a fantastic feeling.

“I can’t say enough about the squad and the coaching staff. They’ve been absolutely superb with application, effort and focus.”

Hat-trick hero Faye Rabson celebrates with (from left) Ariana Fleischman, Naomi Cole and Suzanne Davies (photo: Ben Davidson, www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Skipper Cole admitted that while Wasps had dominated the league, dropping points only once in 16 games, they had never underestimated any opponent.

She said: “You have to work hard in every game to make sure you get results and we’ve built the squad this year that has been capable of doing that.

“I’ve got the belief that this team can go very far. Hopefully we can go in to the Premier League as underdogs, see what we can do next season.”

Left-back Michelle Ward, the club’s longest-serving played having joined as an eight-year-old in 1997, added: “We’ve been trying to push on for eight seasons and I think we’ve deserved it this season. Fingers crossed we can compete really well in the league above.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Davies, Fleischman, Palmer; Rabson. Subs: James, Drury, Webber.

• PHOTOS: A gallery of images from the game can be found at Ben Davidson Photography.

REPORT AND PICTURES: Crawley Wasps 6 Jersey FA 1

Crawley Wasps and Jersey FA Women’s Representative XI line-up for the cameras (Picture: bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps hosted a Jersey FA Representative XI in a friendly at Steyning Town on Sunday, running out of 6-1 victors.

Charlie Carter’s precise effort from the edge of the box put Wasps ahead on 10 minutes, but only a smart save from Frankie Gibbs and Niamh Stephenson’s goalline clearance prevented an equaliser.

However, Wasps were largely in control in the first half with Naomi Cole scoring a penalty and a free kick, before goals from Suzanne Davies and Kemina Webber made it 5-0 at the break.

Jersey upped their game in the second half, pressing well and pulling one back after breaking free in the box, but an own goal late in the game rounded off the scoring.

For a full photo gallery from the game, click here. Pictures: Ben Davidson (www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Kemina Webber takes on the Jersey defence (Picture: www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 0 Lewes FC Women 4

Niamh Stephenson challenges ex-Wasps striker Rebecca Carter (Picture: Simon Roe – www.simonroephotography.co.uk)

Crawley Wasps were beaten in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final for the third year in a row, losing 4-0 to Lewes on Thursday.

Georgia Bridges netted twice and former Wasps striker Rebecca Carter scored a stunning strike from distance for the FA Women’s Premier League side, who have applied to join the WSL Championship for next season.

It marked Wasps’ first defeat since May 2017 but amounted to more heartache in this competition after 5-1 losses to Brighton in the last two seasons.

They were indebted to several good saves from goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs to keep them in touch at the break, although she was beaten by Bridges’ firm strike from the edge of the box on 25 minutes.

At the other end, Naomi Cole’s free-kick was gathered by Lewes keeper Faye Baker.

Carter had scored a spectacular goal in the 2016 final for Wasps and repeated her magic at the same end of the ground within 40 seconds of the restart.

That was to prove a turning point as Lewes visibly relaxed and started to pin Wasps back for periods of the second half.

Paul Walker’s side did not surrender and only smart defending from Natasha Wells prevented Wasps’ Faye Rabson getting a free shot away against her old club.

But Gibbs remained busy as she saved from Vicky Carleton before Bridges got her second, latching on to a through ball from the excellent Avilla Bergin.

Danielle Lane finished from six yards after being found by Carter’s cross, while all Wasps could muster was a Kemina Webber effort fielded by Baker.

“It was a very competitive game, one I’m sure our players will learn from,” said Wasps boss Paul Walker.

“It would have been lovely to have been lifting that trophy but this will not define our season.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Fleischman, Drury, Rabson; Webber.
Subs: Hillman, Callaghan, N.Smith, Davies, T. Smith.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 21 Watford Development 0

Six players scored hat-tricks as Crawley Wasps beat a short-handed Watford Development 21-0 on Sunday to edge closer to promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League.

Skipper Naomi Cole (pictured) led the way with four goals, while Rachel Palmer, Toni Smith, Ariana Fleischman, Faye Rabson and Kemina Webber also hit trebles.

Webber started the rout against her old club, Cole rifled in from 25 yards before Fleischman and Jenny Drury set up Rabson for the third, with 12 minutes on the clock.

Midway through the first half, a fizzing shot from Palmer made it 4-0 before Fleischman scored the fifth and sixth goals, created by Rabson and Smith.

Experienced ex-Brighton and Lewes striker Catherine O’Hagan got her first goal for Wasps, finishing smartly over the keeper, Cole nodded in Palmer’s corner and Rabson netted in the final seconds of the half to leave Wasps 9-0 up at the break.

Cole was the first to complete her hat-trick, driving in from distance three minutes into the second half, before Smith’s persistence in the box got her on the scoresheet.

Palmer scored twice more – profiting after Charlie Carter’s rocket from 40 yards cannoned back off the woodwork, and then finishing from Smith’s ball – before Webber, Drury and Smith netted to take the score to 16-0.

Wasps scored five times in the last 12 minutes as a battling Watford, who had just 10 players throughout, tired.

Smith got her hat-trick, Cole’s corner drifted straight in, Fleischman curled home, Rabson made it 20-0 and Webber fired in from the edge of the box to complete Wasps’ biggest win since defeating Henfield 25-0 in the Sussex Women’s Cup in October 2013.

It could have been more, with Hannah Duncan, Palmer and Smith all hitting the woodwork, but it was not all one-way traffic, with Gibbs making a couple of second-half stops.

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Carter, Palmer, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Fleischman, Drury, Rabson; Webber. Subs: James, Callaghan, T. Smith, O’Hagan.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 3 Parkwood Rangers 0

Naomi Cole (l) and Faye Rabson were both on target

Crawley Wasps’ outstanding season continued on Sunday as they reached the final of the London & South East Regional League Cup for the second year in a row.

Their 3-0 win over a resilient Parkwood Rangers earned them a place in the showpiece against AFC Phoenix, at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium, on May 20.

Paul Walker’s side are unbeaten this season – 17 matches in all competitions – and have a Sussex Challenge Cup final against Lewes and possible promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League to look forward to.

Against Parkwood – fourth in the division – they dominated large spells but lacked a killer touch in front of goal, despite Ariana Fleischman, Faye Rabson and Naomi Cole all testing the keeper.

They almost paid for their profligacy as a defensive slip allowed Parkwood a chance, but keeper Frankie Gibbs made an excellent block.

Wasps broke through in first-half injury-time when Toni Smith got nudged over in the box and Cole despatched the penalty.

Kemina Webber hit the woodwork with a header after the break but made amends by nodding home Cole’s expert delivery to double the lead on 70 minutes.

And Wasps put the game beyond the visitors’ reach as Webber laid the ball off for Rabson to drill home.

They return to league action this weekend, as Watford LFC Development visit Tinsley Lane, Oakwood (2pm kick-off). A win would put them closer to achieving their title ambitions.

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Drury, Cole; Rabson, Fleischman, Callaghan; T. Smith. Subs: Elphick, N. Smith, C. O’Hagan, Webber.

Wasps’ reserves were beaten 3-2 by Worthing in the semi-finals of the South East Counties League Cup. Amy Clark and Natalie Stephenson scored.

MATCH REPORT: Eastbourne Ladies 0 Crawley Wasps 2

Wasps’ Toni Smith evades an Eastbourne challenge (Picture: Andrew Hazelden)

Crawley Wasps booked their place in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final for the third year in a row – but were made to work hard for a 2-0 victory over Eastbourne Ladies on Sunday.

The two sides are a division-and-a-half apart but for three quarters of this tie, only an outstanding lob by Wasps skipper Naomi Cole could split them.

Suzanne Davies’ goal midway through the second half settled the visitors’ nerves and ensured they will face Lewes on March 22 at Lancing.

It completes the first of three season objectives, with promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League and a place in the League Cup final still on.

Wasps were well short of their usual performance levels but will have been satisfied to have overcome tenacious and tireless Eastbourne.

There had been very little action in the first 25 minutes until Cole spectacularly capitalised on an error.

Suzanne Davies slots in Wasps’ second goal (Picture: Andrew Hazelden)

A poor clearance from the Eastbourne keeper went straight to the former Millwall and Lewes player, who showed tremendous technique to send it into the net from the edge of the centre circle.

That did not dishearten the hosts nor inspire the visitors and the two sides too often cancelled each other out in a sometimes attritional battle.

Wasps did have the odd chance to settle it before Davies’ goal, with Nicholle Smith putting an effort over the bar from close range after good work from Kemina Webber, while Catherine O’Hagan got clear but shot at the keeper.

Davies doubled the lead after a fine pass from Charlie Carter, while Webber and Ariana Fleischman had chances late on, but a third would have been harsh on Eastbourne.

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Elphick, Cole; N.Smith, T. Smith, Davies; C. O’Hagan. Subs: Fleischman, Webber.

PHOTO GALLERY: For more of Andrew Hazelden’s pictures from the game, click here.