Crawley Wasps extended their unbeaten start to eight matches with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at second-placed AFC Phoenix on Sunday.
Lauren Callaghan put Wasps ahead on 39 minutes, only for the hosts to equalise immediately after the break.
Paul Walker’s side missed a number of chances in both halves but were also indebted to saves from keeper Frankie Gibbs, some excellent defending and wayward Phoenix shooting.
Wasps had won their first seven league matches, beating Phoenix at home on the opening day, but the Dulwich-based side had not dropped any points since.
After an early Gibbs save, Wasps created several opportunities as Callaghan headed wide, Kemina Webber hit the bar and was denied by the Phoenix keeper, who also kept out Faye Rabson.
The breakthrough came when a Michelle Ward ball from left back found its way through to Callaghan, who beat the keeper.
Gibbs had to make an excellent block with her leg to preserve Wasps lead going into half time, but less than 60 seconds after the restart, the home side did level, scrappily from a corner.
Wasps threatened again through Callaghan, who had a shot saved and fired another just past the far post, but Phoenix – buoyed by their goal – began to carve out chances.
Gibbs, though, remained largely untroubled and Hannah Duncan’s superb tackle shut the door on a striker through on goal, while centre-back Holly Walker was Thales player of the match.
A potential injury-time winner for Wasps was ruled out for a foul on the keeper but a draw at their primary rivals for promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League will suit them just fine.
Wasps: Gibbs; Carter, Niamh Stephenson, Walker, Ward; Drury, Cole; Rabson, Fleischman, Callaghan; Webber. Subs: Duncan, Worsfold, Boyd, Davies, Hannah.