Crawley Wasps manager Paul Walker said he was “immensely proud” of his side’s display in their Women’s FA Cup defeat by the giants of Arsenal.
The amateurs restricted the full-time professionals to just two goals in either half – quite a feat given the gulf in stature between the two clubs – and more than played their part in an entertaining game in front of a sell-out 1,550 crowd at Oakwood FC.
“We came up against a top side in Arsenal but I’d be very surprised if anybody thought there were three levels difference between the squads,” Walker said.
“There were times where we didn’t see a lot of the ball but the discipline we showed to keep the shape, close the space down and make it difficult for Arsenal in periods of the game was admirable.”
Goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs, who made several good saves in the second half, said: “It was one of those games where you always knew there was going to be a lot to do, but you hope that you’re able to do enough to keep it to a respectable scoreline.
“It was a proud moment to see all those people who had come to watch us give Arsenal a game.”
Midfielder Megan Stow, who was named Wasps’ player of the match by sponsors Metrobus, added: “Once we got into our stride, we played some good football. We need to take the confidence from this and believe we can play at a much higher level.”
Walker, who is also the club’s chairman, said the crowd – more than double that which watched Brighton play Manchester United – could act as a springboard for the club’s future.
“That’s a Women’s Super League-level crowd,” he said. “It shows the excitement we generated across the town with Arsenal’s visit and is another step towards putting Crawley Wasps on the map.”
Wasps also drew praise from Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro, who said: “All credit to Crawley, they’ve put on an amazing showcase. I take my hat off to them – there’s an amazing amount of volunteers at grassroots level. Crawley should be applauded.”