Tower Hamlets 1-7 Barking & Dagenham
HAT-TRICKS FOR VIOLETTE Sharpe and Kara Mason-Wisbey, alongside a fifth of the season for skipper Lily-Mae Elsey, made it twenty games without defeat for Barking & Dagenham in the London Girls’ League. The remarkable run stretches back to February 2017 and was never in doubt as the visitors controlled the game from first minute to last.
Barking & Dagenham have been guilty of slow starts in almost all their matches this season. Not this time though, as they opened the scoring with just thirteen seconds on the clock.
Tower Hamlets took kick-off but Mason-Wisbey immediately applied pressure to prompt a loose clearance which Elsey seized upon. Driving into enemy territory, she drew the attention of several defenders before slipping a through ball into the path of the onrushing Sharpe – who finished with aplomb.
It was two inside as many minutes when Mason-Wisbey showed great composure under pressure to affect a neat one-two with Sharpe in a crowded box before delivering with equal calm into the bottom corner.
At this point, it looked like Barking & Dagenham would score with every attack, especially when Ruby Abela played coolly out from the back, finding Mason-Wisbey with a ball from the half-way line which resulted in the William Bellamy forward making it three.
However, less than five minutes were on the clock when an injury to Sharpe meant a reshuffling of the Barking & Dagenham midfield and the early impetus began to wane.
On eight minutes, Tower Hamlets were gifted what proved to be just a consolation goal: but a period of frustration followed where the visitors struggled to add to their tally.
First, Mason-Wisbey’s free-kick was met on the volley by Elsey, with her cushioned effort falling wide.
Then Gracie Jones’s considered through-ball also led to the same outcome, with Yasmine Moore narrowly missing whilst off balance.
And, on the stroke of half-time, Elsey’s low drive from twenty-five yards cannoned back off the upright to deny Barking & Dagenham a more convincing lead.
The woodwork was found for a second time five minutes after the restart when Elsey’s corner eventually fell to Mason-Wisbey, whose hooked effort struck the stanchion.
Shortly after though, the scoring resumed. Mason-Wisbey was instrumental again, intercepting a loose clearance to play in Moore in front of goal. Her first-time scuffed effort looked to be drifting wide until Elsey swooped to convert from inches out.
The re-introduction of a recovered Sharpe increased Barking & Dagenham’s attacking options and now the chances started to come at will.
The pressure finally told when Mason-Wisbey’s lay-off on the edge of the area tee-ed up Elsey for a shot from distance. Her well-struck effort was parried but Sharpe pounced on the rebound to make it five.
And Sharpe then grabbed her eighth of the season with the goal of the game. A rare Tower Hamlets attack saw keeper Connie McCarthy gain possession and boom an early long ball through to the alert Mason-Wisbey. A deft touch under pressure two-thirds of the way up the pitch laid the ball off to Jones on the right. She then drove to the by-line before centring to opposite winger Sharpe to claim her second hat-trick of the season.
To round off the scoring, Mason-Wisbey also took her match-tally to three act when finishing expertly from Sharpe’s through-ball to make it 7-1.
Tough games against Thurrock, Woking, St Albans and Hillingdon remain after the festive break. However, Barking & Dagenham will enter the New Year full of confidence after sending the perfect message to their rivals through the dominance of both the score-line and the performance.
Barking & Dagenham: C McChrystal (Grafton); A Santo (Henry Green); R Abela (Dorothy Barley); L Elsey (Northbury); Y Moore (Henry Green); V Sharpe (Gascoigne); G Jones (Grafton); K Mason-Wisbey (William Bellamy)