West Kent 0-1 Barking & Dagenham
KAYLA GRAIN’S OPENING goal of the season was all that could separate Barking & Dagenham from hosts West Kent during a much-improved team performance in the Autumn sunshine. The visitors also had keeper Mei Wang to thank for two fine saves, ensuring a clean sheet and victory for her team over the current Kent Super League leaders.
The decisive moment came after just six minutes when the home side pushed forward in numbers, hoping to exploit Barking & Dagenham’s left flank. Elishah Mintah-Adarkwah had other ideas however, wrestling back possession in the danger zone and clearing the ball to Kaltrina Ibrahimi. The William Ford winger stayed composed under pressure, working space to pump a long ball in behind the opposition defence.
Ellie Mai Morgan’s appetite for a lost cause then saw the skipper burst through a West Kent defensive sandwich to emerge on the other side with the ball, bearing down on goal. With the home keeper advancing, Morgan looked certain to pull the trigger herself – until she intelligently cut the ball back to the unmarked Grain to sidefoot a calm finish into the open goal, despite a desperate last-gasp lunge from a West Kent defender.
Morgan had the opportunity to double the advantage two minutes later: however, her daisy-cutter lacked the necessary power to force its way home.
Returning veteran Miquellah Meade then saw two efforts saved in the tenth and seventeenth minutes, before a long ball over the top saw West Kent’s biggest chance of the game.
Running free from the shackles of the otherwise impeccable visiting rearguard, the home striker advanced on goal, only for Wang to charge off her line to narrow the angle and make the save.
For much of the rest of the game, the two respective defences were on top. For Barking & Dagenham, Mintah-Adarkwah and Kirsten McNaughton continued their defiant form at the back whilst Ruby Abela and Kezia Owusu-Abeiye slotted in seamlessly alongside them.
Despite heavy pressure, West Kent only managed one real opportunity, when a clear offside was missed by the officials to the amazement of both sets of benches. Wang once more tipped wide however, preserving the advantage going into the closing stages.
The game then opened up with Barking & Dagenham again on the front-foot.
First Grain tried her luck form thirty yards, with a well-struck effort that fell just wide of the left-hand post.
Then Morgan almost received due reward for her industriousness upfront, hitting the post from point-blank range at the end of a tensely-fought goalmouth scramble.
Ibrahimi found the side netting from the rebound, before firing a further effort goal-wards from Grain’s switched pass out wide.
Although they weren’t able to convert any more chances, Barking & Dagenham were delighted with a victory over a West Kent side whose least two league victories brought 7-0 and 12-0 wins.
The district side’s own competitive campaign gets underway on November 10th when they welcome fellow London Girls’ League champions Croydon for the opening round of the South East girls’ cup.
Barking & Dagenham: Mei Wang (Henry Green); Miquellah Meade (Henry Green); Kirsten McNaughton (George Carey); Ellie Mai Morgan (Henry Green); Violette Sharpe (Gascoigne); Jessie English (Roding); Kayla Grain (Richard Alibon); Lily-Mae Elsey (Northbury); Elishah-Oliviae Mintah Adarkwah (George Carey); Kaltrina Ibrahimi (William Ford); Kezia Owusu-Abeiye (Valence); Ruby Abela (Dorothy Barley)