Suzanne Davies hit the winner in the eighth minute of injury time as Crawley Wasps began the new season with a 2-1 victory over newly promoted AFC Phoenix on Sunday.
Midfielder Davies latched on to a glorious pass from new skipper Naomi Cole before drilling the ball over the keeper and in at the far post.
Cole had scored nine minutes into her first game as Wasps captain but south London-based Phoenix deservedly levelled in the second-half and could have gone in front but for a couple of fine saves by Frankie Gibbs, on her competitive debut.
However they were undone by substitute Davies, who scored her fifth goal in her last five games, which included the Sussex County Cup final against Women’s Super League side Brighton in March.
The visitors hit the post early on but Wasps took the lead when former Lewes and Millwall midfielder Cole bent in a shot from the edge of the box after being set up by Faye Rabson.
Phoenix looked dangerous on the break, with Gibbs making a save at her near post.
In the second half, Wasps had a stroke of fortune when a foul by Rosanne Fine was not penalised and Nicholle Smith’s cross found Cole, but she fired over.
Phoenix made the most of that let off and levelled on 63 minutes with a swift counter, working the ball into the box before finishing.
Gibbs then made a couple of saves to keep things level while at the other end Hayley Fowle bent a shot wide and Ariana Fleischman hit the bar.
Davies popped up to win all three points as her side’s bid for promotion to the Women’s Premier League got off to a winning start.
Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Walker, Ward; Rabson, Cole, Fleischman, Fowle; T. Smith; Fine. Subs: Boyd, Callaghan, Elphick, Davies, N. Smith.
New Crawley Wasps signing Hayley Fowle in action against AFC Phoenix.