Medway 1-0 Barking & Dagenham
CHATHAM TOWN’S BAUVILL STADIUM was the setting for Barking & Dagenham’s second round South East Girls’ Cup tie with Medway. Both defences remained on top for much of the game until a late long ball provided the break the hosts needed. Keeper Connie McChrystal earned well-deserved plaudits for the second match in a row but was powerless to stop the breakthrough goal which ultimately saw the Kent side go through.
Medway enjoyed the bulk of possession throughout the first half and frequently launched sorties into Barking & Dagenham territory. The visitors’ back three of Ruby Abela, Arlinda Santo and Tianna Dowuona-Hammond stood firm though with the latter outstanding throughout in her best game in a district shirt.
It took until the eleventh minute for the visitors to fashion their first opening when lively Violette Sharpe spread play wide to Alissa Dhillon on the left wing. She in turn cut inside before seeing her goal-bound shot blocked when just inside the area.
At the other end, it was McChrystal who caught the eye with two fine saves. The first saw the Grafton stopper position herself expertly to field the ball in her midriff before a spectacular second resulted in a reaction tip-over just as the ball looked set to burst the back of the net.
Barking & Dagenham lacked control in midfield however so a slight alteration in formation, with skipper Lily-Mae Elsey dropping deeper, meant that the defending was less fraught and the base for playing forward was strengthened.
The improvement in shape also bought Elsey the time and space needed to influence the game, first firing wide from twenty yards when sweeping up a clearance from her own earlier corner.
Then five minutes later, Elsey again picked up a loose ball inside the centre circle before striding into enemy territory and letting rip once more. This time, the home keeper fielded the attempt well but the tide seemed to be turning as Barking & Dagenham appeared to have weathered the tide.
Indeed, only a last-ditch tackle denied Sharpe as she sprinted clear from Gracie Jones’s through-ball, with the same player narrowly missing out on converting an Elsey corner with just four minutes to left on the clock.
Seconds later though, a long-ball over the top split the visitors’ backline, with the Medway forward first to the ball to sprint clear and rifle a firm effort into the bottom corner.
Ironically, the performance was Barking & Dagenham’s best of the season as the balance and organisation of the side took giant strides forward from the previous week’s win over Tower Hamlets. Next week, the district side take on the East London side once again, looking to defend their London Girls’ League title with an opening day win.
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); G Jones (Grafton); R Zaman (Hunters Hall); E Young (Hunters Hall); K Mason-Wisbey (William Bellamy)