Crawley Wasps pulled off a huge 2-0 win away at second-placed Billericay on Sunday to move five points clear at the top of the FA Women’s National League Division One South East.
An often tense game at the AGP Arena was settled by second-half goals from former Wales international Emma Plewa and ex-England Under-23 Naomi Cole.
The victory was their 13th straight win in all competitions and also extended Wasps’ unbeaten run in league matches to 24, dating back to March 2017.
Given the importance of the game to both sides, it was perhaps no surprise that the first half was tight with few clear-cut opportunities. Cole shot just over, while Billericay twice fired just wide after Wasps failed to properly deal with free-kicks.
But Paul Walker’s side took a grip on midfield after the break and were the dominant side for much of the second half. Plewa fired into the side netting and Megan Stow tested keeper Nikita Runnacles, before the crucial breakthrough.
It came on 64 minutes as Plewa beat the offside trap to latch on to Cole’s threaded pass and the winger pulled the trigger.
Cole sealed the victory herself with 10 to play as she took advantage of hesitant defending to slam into an empty net.
Manager Paul Walker said: “It’s an important win, against our title rivals, that keeps us firmly in control of our own destiny in our pursuit of back-to-back promotions.
“There were some outstanding individual performances but topping those was the overall team display – a superb work ethic and desire to get the job done.”
Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young, Palmer; Drury, Cole; Rabson, Stow, Plewa; Heather (Webber 87). Subs not used: Graves, Measures, C. Carter, Fleischman.