Wokingham 3-1 Barking & Dagenham
LILY-MAE ELSEY’S LATE PENALTY salvaged partial consolation for Barking & Dagenham as they fell short of reaching their third Southern Counties Cup final in as many years after defeat to Wokingham. The Berkshire outfit were good value for their win, taking advantage of a leggy first half performance from the visitors to establish a comfortable lead at the break – one which they never looked like relinquishing.
The home side took the lead in the fourth minute after Barking & Dagenham had seemingly dealt with a routine Wokingham corner by clearing the crossed ball well clear of goal. The visitors were slow to regain their shape though, allowing the opposition to play the loose ball back into the danger area where a host of unmarked attackers lay in wait, grateful for the chance to beat the offside trap and fire their team ahead.
For the next twenty minutes, Wokingham looked more than likely to extend their lead. However, Ruby Abela took charge at the back, restricting the home team to efforts from the edge of the box, or from forced-wide angles, all of which keeper Connie McChrystal swept up with her usual calm handling.
Bit by bit, Barking & Dagenham began to piece together one or two attempts of their own. First, the hard-working Tiana Dowuona-Hammond forged a chance for Violette Sharpe, who saw her attempt charged down by a desperate challenge.
A few minutes later, it was Dowuona-Hammond again who picked out Alissa Dhillon on the left. The Valence winger was one of Barking & Dagenham’s brighter sparks in the first half and would have deserved reward for her industry and attitude; however, the resulting left foot strike lacked the power necessary to trouble the home keeper.
Instead, Wokingham doubled their lead. Once again, Barking & Dagenham’s backline failed to push out as a unit, allowing a single home striker to break through unmarked to pick her spot for 2-0.
Livewire forward Rihanna Zahman was brought on in response and immediately had an impact, holding the ball up well and almost creating a chance for herself when bursting through and evading a series of challenges, only for the home keeper to charge out and smother her attempt on goal from point-blank range.
As the half wore to a close, the reintroduction of Sharpe almost paid immediate dividends when she picked out Kara Mason-Wisbey on right for a clear chance ten minutes from time. Then Sharpe herself fired wide after strong wing-play from Eva Young carved a chance four minutes later.
Whoever scored next would be crucial. Unfortunately, for Barking & Dagenham, it wasn’t them. With bodies pushed forward, they were stung by a Wokingham counter-attack which put the tie beyond doubt three minutes from time.
There was still opportunity for Zaman and Mason-Wisbey to be denied by the home keeper once again before Elsey’s dangerous ball into the box saw Sharpe felled three yards out with seconds remaining.
Elsey converted confidently with the last kick of the game, blasting into the top corner for her seventh goal of the season.
The result sees the hosts take on Woking at Oxford City on the May bank holiday Monday. Meanwhile, Barking & Dagenham must turn their attention to the remaining 7-a-side competitions if they are to pick up silverware this season.
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)