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Women's Football News
Southern Region League Division One side Andover New Street gave Watford the fright of their lives before exiting the F A Women's Cup with a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at Foxcotte Park.
Leading 2-1 in the 89th minute, Street were sunk by two goals by the Premier League's leading scorer Sarah Wiltshire after having bridged the four tiers which separated the two clubs with an outstanding display.
Despite gifting Watford a goal early on, Andover New Street scored two beauties to take the lead with fifteen minutes left. It took a stunning 30-yard strike to level the scores with a minute left to rescue the Golden Girls and then Wiltshire prevented extra time with a cool finish three minutes into added time. The large and vocal Green Army gave the local heroes a prolonged ovation at the final whistle, fully deserved for their efforts, but the players may well feel that it was a wonderful opportunity missed to extend a Cup run which had already taken two Combination scalps.
In the early stages the pace of Wiltshire and Kate Natkiel always needed watching. Steph Cole, who had an excellent match in the home goal, saved well from Wiltshire, who then had a goal disallowed in the fifth minute.
Natkiel was clean through in the 16th minute but could not beat Cole. However, Watford took the lead on 21 minutes when Natkiel was given an easy finish by a defensive error but Street held firm despite not really testing Chloe Crook in the Watford goal.
Brave and decisive handling from Cole from dangerous crosses and fine defensive work from Sammy Howarth and her back four colleagues kept Watford at bay. Reaching the break with only a single goal deficit, New Street would be hoping to profit from playing with the slope and wind in their favour to mount pressure on the National Division team's defence.
The early chance fell to Watford with Natkiel firing just wide, but Street soon fashioned their best move of the match so far, ending with Catherine Browning shooting over from ten yards after being set free on the right. Even better was to come on 59 minutes when Krissy Wright launched a stunning 25-yard right footed effort into the top corner for the equaliser, giving a leaping Crook no chance.
Wiltshire had a free kick well held by Cole and Street's Kirsty Bell nearly set up Alex Cottier with a well flighted free kick as play was now evenly balanced. Watford's Natkiel had a goal disallowed and brilliant last ditch defending denied the same player on 68 minutes but with quarter of an hour left, it was Browning who sent the home crowd wild as she again got free on the right and slotted coolly past Crook.
Jess Frampton nearly extended New Street's lead from close in and there was no doubt that Watford were rattled by the skill and spirit of the home players. But the visitors dug deep and poured forwards with attacking substitutions, forcing more fine saves from Cole and more excellent defending.
Just when it seemed that a huge upset was about to happen, Wiltshire showed the class which had always been evident in her Arsenal days and now turned the tie on its head. Taking the ball on the left wing, she cut infield before measuring a perfect 30-yard shot over Cole on 89 minutes. She then set up a great chance for Megan Wynne who shot over and it seemed certain that extra time would be needed. But no...breaking clear again, Wiltshire outpaced the defence, slotted the ball past Cole and the tie was won in the third minute of added time, cruelly for the home team.
Andover New Street are an unusual club for their current level, packed with players of experience and quality backed up with young local talent, managed with passion by Trevor Knight. They gave a fine Watford team a real scare and have marked this seasons FA Women's Cup with their exploits. But it is Watford who have the place in the Fourth Round, largely due to the exploits of Wiltshire, who broke the Hampshire heroes' hearts with her late double.
Andover New Street: Steph Cole, Victoria Summerfield, Sammy Howarth, Jenna Patterson, Emma Small, Kristina Wright, Alex Cottier, Jess Frampton, Catherine Browning, Kirsty Bell, Chantelle Clark. Subs: Erin Davies, Laura Gilbank, Laura Humphreys, Sarah Kingswell, Charlotte Hall.
Watford: Chloe Crook, Viki Wotton, Cori Daniels, Charlie Nicholson, Chloe Gunn, Laura Cooper, Kate Owen, Holly Miles, Megan Wynne, Sarah Wiltshire, Kate Natkiel. Subs: Layla Prior, Megan Jones, Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Charlotte Young, Paige Logie.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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