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.
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.