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.
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.