Barking & Dagenham 0-0 Woking
THE IRRESISTABLE FORCE MET the immovable object as unbeaten Woking found Barking & Dagenham in resilient mood in defence of their London Girls’ League title. A belligerent whole-team performance, epitomised by the tackling of Yasmine Moore and Arlinda Santo at the back, thwarted the visitors’ prolific strike-force during an entertaining and battling encounter at Robert Clack.
Woking started brightly, pinning the hosts into their own half. Waves of early pressure, and a succession of dangerous set pieces, didn’t result in any clear chances though and Barking & Dagenham eventually worked their way to some openings of their own.
A third of the way through the first half, Violette Sharpe had Barking & Dagenham’s first chance, latching on to a loose ball on the edge of the area to drive into the box and lash an initial sighter across goal.
But just a minute later, Woking spurned a golden opportunity to gain the lead when a piercing attack down the right resulted in a dangerous centre that cut-out the entire Barking & Dagenham rear-guard. The onrushing player, under pressure from winger Ruby Abela, somehow contrived to hit the bar from three yards out with the goal gaping, the ball thundering back off the woodwork and into play.
It was a let off. And one which Barking & Dagenham sought to capitalise on.
First Kara Mason-Wisbey saw a fiercely hit effort from twenty yards fizz wide after good forward play from Sharpe resulted in a blast from the edge of the box.
And shortly after half-time, Mason-Wisbey showed great athleticism down the left flank to win back possession in her own half before ramping up the afterburners to tear past her marker and advance deep into Woking territory. When set to shoot, she intelligently opted instead to cross: but the outstretched boot of Alissa Dhillon just couldn’t connect with enough to force the ball home.
The remainder of the game saw the two sides cancel each other out for the large part. The work-rate of skipper Lily-Mae Elsey typified the game, with a series of tackles, clearances and headers all over the pitch. And Tianna Dowuona-Hammond made a vital cameo on the right flank, tying up Woking’s attacking options down one side.
Neither midfield was able to get a foothold as the rest of the game continued like a vein-pumping arm-wrestle. Woking hit the upright twice, but keeper Connie McChrystal was well positioned had either attempt fallen inside the post.
In the end, Woking continued their undefeated season and Barking & Dagenham’s proud run in the London Girls’ League stretched to twenty-one games without a loss.
Next week, it’s a local derby with fellow Essex side Thurrock. Both teams will look for local bragging rights and the three points that could go a long way towards qualification to the final stage of the competition.
Barking & Dagenham: C McChrystal (Grafton); A Santo (Henry Green); R Abela (Dorothy Barley); A Dhillon (Valence); L Elsey (Northbury); Y Moore (Henry Green); T Duouwana-Hammond (George Carey); V Sharpe (Gascoigne); K Mason-Wisbey (William Bellamy)