ROUND-UP: U16s beaten by Ringmer in League Cup final

Wasps’ Ellie Livingstone scraps for possession (Picture: Dave Burt – www.daveburtphotography.co.uk).

Crawley Wasps Under-16s lost their second showpiece final of the season as they were beaten 6-2 by Ringmer Rovers in the Sussex Girls League Cup on Sunday.

Chanelle Gainsford and Emily Flegg kept Wasps in touch at Worthing’s Woodside Road ground but they ended up wilting in the heat late on.

It comes seven weeks after they were edged out by Eastbourne in the Sussex Girls County Cup final at Lancing.

Ellie Livingstone twice fired over at the start of a fast-paced game with end-to-end action, before Ringmer broke the deadlock midway through the first half.

However, Wasps drew level shortly afterwards when skipper Gainsford struck a free-kick from fully 30 yards which flew over the wall and into the net.

Goalkeeper Lauren Graves was called into action early in the second half but she was unable to keep out a header from a corner resulting from one of her fine saves.

Following another corner, the ball rebounds off the post to find a Ringmer foot to give them a 3-1 lead.

Wasps refused to give in and Flegg reduced the deficit with a burst of pace and a fine finish, but Rovers reversed the tactic on Mark Graves’ team and used it to not only restore their two-goal lead, but then add a fifth.

Poppy Nicholls overcame a twisted ankle to dig in with Thales player of the match Olivia Mullan also outstanding, but Ringmer were to inflict further punishment late on.

Wasps Ladies’ reserves won one and lost one of their double header at Herne Bay in the South East Counties Premier Division, both games finishing 2-1.

However, the Ladies development picked up just a point from their double header with Horsham Sparrows, drawing 0-0 before losing 2-1.

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.

NEWS: Wasps promoted to Premier League

Wasps players celebrate with Rachel Palmer (left) after her goal against Eastbourne Town (Picture: Ben Davidson – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps have sealed a historic promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League – and will aim to complete an unbeaten league season on Sunday.

Paul Walker’s side beat Eastbourne Town 3-2 last weekend but weren’t confirmed as champions of the London & South East Premier Division until more than 24 hours later.

That was when Watford LFC Development pulled out of the rest of the campaign, handing Wasps the points they required.

It means next season they will host the likes of Cambridge United, Luton Town and Stevenage in the fourth tier of the women’s pyramid, which next season will be rebranded the FA Women’s National League.

Their final league game is this Sunday (April 22) against third-placed London Kent Football United, at The Haven, Crawley Down Gatwick FC (2pm kick-off).

Should they avoid defeat, they will become only the third club to be ‘invincible’ during a season in the league’s 13-year history, after Whitehawk and AFC Wimbledon.

“I’m delighted we’ve secured promotion, which was our main objective this season,” said Walker.

“The club has been in this division for eight years and, as the women’s game

Crawley Wasps boss Paul Walker (photo: Ben Walker)

restructures, it’s extremely important to make that step into the National League.

“We’ve achieved it in style and I’m hoping on Sunday we will achieve an unbeaten season.”

Walker is also Wasps’ chairman and says the first-team’s elevation will benefit the club as a whole.

“It creates excellent player pathways into a high standard of football at a time when the women’s game is professionalising.

“At Wasps, what we put around the players in terms of both the technical coaching and the strength and conditioning at Cottesmore, is increasingly professional.

“This has absolutely been a whole club effort. The committee have supported our ambitions and the support from our main club sponsor Thales has been game-changing.”

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: Bosher books Under-16s place in final

Chloe Bosher got the winner against Mile Oak (Picture: David Jeffery Photography)

Crawley Wasps’ Under-16s booked their place in another final as they beat Mile Oak Wanderers 3-2 in the last four of the Sussex Girls League Cup on Sunday.

Just three weeks after losing the Sussex Girls Challenge Cup final, Wasps responded with an excellent victory away at the league leaders.

Captain Chanelle Gainsford opened the scoring with a long-range effort that dipped over the keeper.

Wasps’ keeper Lauren Graves, the Thales player of the match, made a string of fine saves, before Ellie Livingstone released Emily Flegg to double the lead.

Mile Oak pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time, as Wasps tried to reorganise after an injury, and the hosts levelled in the second half with a strike from outside the box.

Chances came and went at both ends before Bosher struck to ensure a final against Ringmer Rovers.

Wasps’ reserves moved up to sixth in the South East Counties Premier Division with a 3-2 win at Hassocks.

Goals from Zoe Martin and Amy Clark had Simon Pavey’s side 2-1 up at the break, with Rosanne Fine netting in the second half.

Wasps’ first team beat a Jersey Representative XI 6-1 in a friendly at Steyning Town.

A report and picture slideshow can be found here.

 

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.

PREVIEW: Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final – Crawley Wasps v Lewes

CRAWLEY WASPS v LEWES FC WOMEN

Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final, Thursday 22 March 2018
Sussex FA County Ground, Culver Road, Lancing (7.15pm kick-off)

Crawley Wasps striker Faye Rabson says she will relish taking on her former club Lewes in Thursday’s Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final.

Rabson is one of several ex-Lewes players in the Wasps squad

Wasps meet the Rookettes – who play two divisions above them in the FA Women’s Premier League South – at Culver Road, Lancing.

It is the first competitive match between the teams since February 2013, when Lewes edged out Wasps 1-0 at the semi-final stage.

Naomi Cole scored Lewes’s winner that day – she is now the Wasps captain, while Rabson, Jenny Drury and Charlie Carter are also set to feature against their old side.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Rabson, who returned to Wasps in 2015 after a season and a bit with Lewes and has scored 22 goals in 15 games this season.

“It’s going to be fun playing a few ex-teammates. I do know quite a lot of them down there.

“We know it’ll be a tough test but our preparation has been brilliant this season.

“We’ll be going into it as the underdogs but hopefully our gameplan will work and we can get something out of it.”

Despite being 21 places below Lewes in the pyramid, Wasps come into the game full of confidence – they are unbeaten this season, 18 games in all competitions, and should next month seal promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League South East.

Crawley Wasps line up before last year’s final against Brighton

It is also their third successive appearance in the Sussex final, having lost 5-1 to Brighton & Hove Albion in both 2016 and 2017.

“We’ve done really well in the competition in the last couple of years and I’m delighted to have another crack at trying to win it,” Wasps manager Paul Walker said.

“We go into this game being the underdogs, but with a lot of belief and I hope that can be reflected on the night in terms of a performance.

“My desire for this game is that all of our players play to the potential they’ve got.

“If we can do that, it’s going to be a really good game for everybody who goes along and watches.”

Entry prices for the final are as follows:
Adult (17+) £5
Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card) £3
Child (16 and under) Free

NEWS: Wasps agree extended deal with Cottesmore

Crawley Wasps players are put through their paces during strength and conditioning at Cottesmore

Crawley Wasps LFC are delighted to announce an extension to our partnership with Cottesmore Hotel, Golf & Country Club.

The agreement will see Wasps players continue to use the outstanding studio and gym facilities at Cottesmore, near Pease Pottage, for weekly strength and conditioning (S&C) sessions.

Wasps’ first team have gone unbeaten since the extra fitness work was introduced last summer – they are now on the verge of promotion to the FA Women’s National League South East and have reached the finals of both the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup and the League Cup.

The sessions have been led by the club’s head of strength and conditioning Jordan Stannard, assisted by fitness coach Paul Walshe.

“The Cottesmore facilities are superb,” Stannard said. “They absolutely fit the bill for what we need to develop our players as we move further towards an increasingly professional set up at Wasps.”

First-team manager Paul Walker has also been delighted with the on-field impact.

Jordan Stannard leads a strength & conditioning at Cottesmore

He added: “The strength and conditioning work has been vital to our outstanding performances and results this season and will bring us on to a level playing field in the FA Women’s National League.

“As the top of the women’s game becomes even more professional, our aim is to continually develop the support around our players. Next season will see us taking further steps in this direction.

“Cottesmore have been tremendous partners and we’re thrilled to have their backing again. We are also delighted to be able to support their ventures, such as engaging more young women in golf.”

Johnny Porter, general manager of Cottesmore Hotel, Golf & Country Club, added: “We are delighted to partner with Crawley Wasps for another season.

“It has been a pleasure to see how the sessions we have hosted have aided the team’s performances on the pitch and we fully support Wasps’ ambitions for further progress up the football pyramid.

“Both the staff and myself have seen week-in, week-out how dedicated the players are to making both personal and team improvement, and the results this season are a testimony to this.”

For more information, visit www.crawleywasps.com or www.cottesmoregolf.co.uk.

NEWS: Defender Walker pencils in injury return

Holly Walker rises above the Oxford City attack in a Women’s FA Cup tie.

Crawley Wasps defender Holly Walker is set to be fit for the start of the 2018-19 pre-season campaign after receiving positive news on her knee injury.

The 23-year-old centre-back – who won both of the club’s player of the season awards last term –sustained the injury in a friendly with Crystal Palace in January.

Initial fears she had aggravated a previous ACL injury were allayed by scans which showed the previous repair remains fully intact.

A product of the club’s successful youth system, Walker scored five goals in 12 appearances this season prior to her injury as Wasps began an unbeaten run that has taken them to the verge of promotion to the FA Women’s National League and to two cup finals.

And manager Paul Walker believes the defender’s return to fitness – on what is likely to be the eve of their first-ever season in the fourth tier of women’s football – will be a timely one.

“I’m looking forward to having Holly back as part of a squad being assembled at Wasps that is capable of mounting a challenge in the division above,” manager Paul Walker said.

“She is a very accomplished central defender so it was a blow to both the squad and her personally for her to miss the rest of the season.

“Having said this, the diagnosis on the injury is very positive and our Head of Strength and Conditioning, Jordan Stannard, together with our Club Physio, are already overseeing a programme of rehabilitation for Holly that will see her return to full fitness in preparation for pre-season.

“I am also grateful to our first-team training partner, Cottesmore Hotel, Golf and Country Club, who will be providing all the facilities needed to support Holly’s rehabilitation.”

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.