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Chesham Utd 1 Denham Utd 2
Denham Utd created a Cup upset with a 2-1 victory away to South West Combination high fliers Chesham Utd in the First Round of the F.A.Women's Cup.
The runaway leaders of the London & South East League Premier Division opened up a two-goal lead before weathering a spirited comeback from the home team in the last half hour which brought a penalty and lots of close calls in a thrilling Cup tie in the best traditions of the competition.
Chesham had not played for several weeks and made a sluggish start. Denham's Danielle Maton went close from a corner and Lauren Cox hit a post as the visitors moved the ball around with calm confidence.
Chesham's Nat Adams set up Kate Bowers for a shot but it was Cox who gave Denham a deserved lead on 23 minutes, blocking an attempted clearance by the Chesham keeper in front of goal.
Chesham responded well with Adams and Bowers threatening on the wings but the main danger to Jess Devoti's goal were the corners of Shan Woodward. It was not until the 42nd minute that Chesham broke down the Denham defence, but Bowers shot straight at the Denham keeper.
Denham again started well after the break, Laura Gibson twice getting shots away from the edge of the area. Chesham's Bowers was stretchered off after unfortunately suffering a painful knee injury after 55 minutes.
The home side went close when Woodward's excellent pass released Adams whose cross from the left was volleyed by Anneka Nuttall, Devoti bringing off a fine block and Christine Gibson clearing.
Denham exploited a moment of hesitation in the home defence on 63 minutes, Joanna Torr winning the ball and Gibson lofting a superb 30-yard chip to double the lead. Gibson nearly scored again from an Alison Down free kick as Denham sought to wrap the game up.
Chesham needed to react quickly and this was done in the style which has seen them challenging for promotion to the Premier League. Denham were pushed back by waves of attacks from all angles forcing a series of corners and goalmouth scrambles. Nuttall had a header cleared off the line by Abbi Ellis, Amy Fisher beat Devoti to a loose ball but no-one could turn in her cross on 72 minutes, sub Amy Andrews shot straight at Devoti from ten yards two minutes later.
Finally Chesham got their reward when Woodward converted a penalty with about ten minutes left plus injury time. The home team continued to press, though Denham continued to play their way calmly out of defence and managed to relieve the pressure occasionally. Chances inevitably came, despite excellent covering from Laura Holbrook and colleagues in front of a very committed back four.
Another Woodward corner was flicked onto the bar by Adams and Deanne Tompkins had a close range shot held by Devoti, who also took responsibility for dealing with dangerous crosses far from her line on several occasions. A final corner was well cleared by Cox and nearly ten minutes of injury time was up, to the delight of the Denham players and their band of travelling supporters.
Every Denham player had risen to the occasion brilliantly to win the match. Chesham had created a host of chances to reverse the tie, but could not finish their best moves. They will have to concentrate on promotion automatically or through the play-offs and perhaps another County Cup final. Denham still have three competitions through which they can extend their lengthy unbeaten run, with promotion to the Combination the biggest goal.
Chesham Utd: Sian Williams, Emma Delves, Cath Andrews, Debs Young, Amy Fisher, Justine Haw, Shantelle Woodward, Anneka Nuttall, Kate Bowers, Nat Adams, Deanne Tomkins. Subs: Amy Andrews, Dawne Campbell, Lisa Welling.
Denham Utd: Jess Devoti, Emma Butler, Abbi Ellis, Danielle Maton, Joanne Torr, Christine Gibson, Laura Holbrook, Lauren Cox, Charlotte Stead, Laura Gibson, Alison Down. Subs: Sian McGrindle, Alisha Allen, Leigh Barlow.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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