Pagham Ladies vs BSLFC (FA Cup 2nd Qualifying round)
It was off to West Sussex for the firsts in our opening game of the FA Cup. After a superb run last year that saw us narrowly beaten by a team 2 tiers above us in the First Round Proper we were hungry for another good run this year.
It was our first competitive visit to a team from the Sussex league and because of this, and despite our 2 tier advantage over our opposition, we took no chances in our preparation. The squad met early, the team was announced the day before and even Ricky was early. We had the added advantage that the reserves opposition had progressed from the previous round so everyone fit was available.
Despite the good prep, the opening 5 minutes were nervy. We struggled to get any rhythm and most of passes only succeeded in finding Pagham players. They were clearly not just going to roll over and had a lot of energy about them in the early exchanges.
It didn’t take long for us to find the lead, with a goal of equal fortune and quality after 8 minutes, Brewer a clever flick, gave Shaw something to throw herself at and despite the GK making a superbly brave save the ball fell to Hawkins. She made no mistake on her weaker foot firing past the two defenders in her way.
This seemed to settle us a little but we were far from our best, a free header for Shaw from a Miles corner a few minutes after the goal almost doubled our lead but flew past the far post.
20 minutes in and the initial energy of Pagham had levelled out and it was clear they would look to release their striker over the top but Yeo and Vernon were on hand to sweep up and despite some unorthodox passing/clearances all was safe for Chrippes’ goal.
Miles fired a free kick off the bar after 22 minutes which would be a warning for a few minutes later. Eden released Brewer who cut inside and squared for Hawkins to put away her 2nd of the day.
Miles was at it again on 28, this time testing the cross bar with her left foot after a clever short corner. The ball rebounded to Plummer who couldn’t generate the power in her header to put it over the line.
We looked comfortable but we’re still no where near our best and the problem with a narrow lead is the home team only need a something to spark them and the game can turn on its head.
Brewer was up top being her energetic self and was unlucky not to add her name to the scoresheet just after the half hour mark. Following up a dropped shot she forced it over the line but the ref saw a handball and it was disallowed.
She had more decision making for the ref 6 minutes later, turning inside the box she looked to be clearly brought down with no reason to hit the deck but the ref ruled against her again.
Brewer is persistent though and 2 minutes later she was through one on one, she knocked it past the GK but before she could even attempt to get to the ball she was clattered by the out rushing GK. Ref had a quick think and likely with his previous decision fresh in his mind awarded the penalty. Eden up to show us her dead ball exploits of preseason were no fluke and confidently put it away for 3-0.
Plummer found a way through just before half time but was denied by the toe of the GK who pulled off a great save.
Just as the half time whistle was about to go Pagham found a way through for what was to be their best chance. With a clear run at goal, Chrippes was quick off her line a made a good save with her legs outside her area to keep her clean sheet in tact.
The scare of the final few seconds was enough to refocus us, and the message was to keep our discipline and concentration and not let Pagham back in to the game.
With management planning the second half subs there was 2 goals in the first 6 minutes.
Eden was released down the left by Plummer, she beat a defender and crossed for Brewer to hit a first time finish. Despite being denied by the gk the first time she got to the follow up to make it 4.
2 minutes later and after testing the cross bar at the other end a couple of times in the first half, Miles was on hand to make sure the other goal was structurally sound. Hitting a great first time effort from a Plummer cut back. However, this time she used the underside of the bar and the linesman flagged to say it had crossed the line before bouncing out.
Plummer and Vernon were replaced on the hour with Norman and Tilly.
The fresh legs intensified the pressure and 2 minutes later, Miles put summer signing Davis in down the right, she cut inside and took aim to make it 6-0 and open her Sports account.
Miles got even better as Pagham tired and another effort off the woodwork (post) this time found it’s way Hawkins who, although on a hat trick, unselfishly laid off for Brewer to have a simple tap in. 64 minutes 7-0.
That was Hawkins last involvement as she came off for Fowell on 67.
The sub made an instant impact, a cross by Miles found Fowell who placed a neat side foot in to the far side of the goal with her first touch.
A Miles corner was met by a powerful Norman header a minute later giving Miles 3 assists in 7 minutes and Norman her first of the season.
2 minutes later, with 71 minutes on the clock, Captain Shaw thought she’d get in on the scoring for a bit. Miles putting a great ball through to be finished well across the keeper. 3 assists in 7 minutes was good but she now had 4 in 9 minutes. Evidently last years silver boot winner wants to keep it.
With a frantic 11 minutes, involving 3 subs and 5 goals, the game calmed down. Credit to Pagham they kept working and despite seeing little of the ball in the second half their attackers worked relentlessly to try to force a mistake from us.
83 minutes on the clock, Fowell put Shaw in for her second with a well-timed run and finish to make it 11-0.
We lost Miles for the last part of the game with a niggle and although she wanted to carry on despite us telling her to come off it was only that she couldn’t face listening to Yeo moaning at her about the risk (her words not mine ;-)) that forced her off.
Just enough time left for Brewer to be a thorn in the Pagham side one last time, running into the box she appeared to be tripped, with the whistle not going she was quickly up to pass the ball to Shaw who duly completed her hat trick and made it 12-0 with a minute to go.
The Pagham pressure almost got them the goal they’d been searching for, a timely intervention had to happen from Chrippes to preserve her first clean sheet for Sports. It gave Pagham a rare corner but it was well defended to give us a good win and clean sheet against a spirited opposition.
Player of the match went to Hollie Shaw, it was a smart move scoring the last 3 three goals so it was fresh in the players minds.
Managers player went to Becky Miles who was a threat all game from open play and dead balls.
Rory went to Kitty Norman, after a slip in the box as Pagham attacked led to some unorthodox defending. We also later found out her bag got peed on by a supporting dog.