A LATE, LATE PENALTY from captain Lily-Mae Elsey rescued a draw for Barking & Dagenham in their opening match of the season against Jo Richardson. Coming back twice from behind, the girls’ district U11s had to battle hard against a much older side, with some players up against girls three years their senior.
Indeed, the game proved a baptism of fire for Barking & Dagenham with Jo Richardson going 1-0 up in the first minute with a fast and dangerous break that stunned the visitors.
Slowly but surely though, confidence grew, with Yasmine Moore going close in the fifth minute, firing narrowly wide from mid-range.
Moore made no mistake two minutes later however when she levelled things up inside the six-yard box. Leighana Moore’s long throw-in landed in a dangerous position, causing chaos in the home backline which Tiana Duowana-Hammond exploited by teeing up Moore for her first district goal.
The goal gave Barking & Dagenham the confidence they needed as Moore, then Violette Sharpe went close again.
Alissa Dhillon’s industry on the left brought Sharpe a second opportunity; this time her curling effort landed just the wrong side of the far post.
The chance of the half fell to Elsey however shortly before the break. Excellent hold-up play from Sharpe saw her centre for the onrushing skipper, only to see the Northbury midfielder sky an effort from five yards over the bar.
Barking & Dagenham ended the half on top, pleased with their battling display, but frustrated at a lack of fluency on the ball.
In response, Eva Young’s composure on the left flank following Elsey’s through-ball saw her centre for Moore to once again go close.
In fact, several players saw half-chances spurned in the second period as Barking & Dagenham dominated territory and possession without ever really looking like scoring.
That profligacy in front of goal looked as if it been punished for good, when a long ball over the top wasn’t dealt with and Jo Richardson nipped in to regain the lead.
And with more chances going begging at the other end, time was almost up for the visitors.
As Sharpe burst through for one last huzzah with just two minutes to go, a clear push inside the box saw her tumble to the turf and the penalty was duly awarded. Elsey made no mistake from the spot to square things up and earn the share of the spoils that Barking & Dagenham deserved.
Barking & Dagenham: C McChrystal (Grafton); A Santo (Henry Green); L Maine (Northbury); R Abela (Dorothy Barley); A Dhillon (Valence); L Elsey (Northbury); Y Moore (Henry Green); T Duouwana-Hammond (George Carey); V Sharpe (Gascoigne); G Jones (Grafton); R Zaman (Hunters Hall); E Young (Hunters Hall)