St Albans 1-8 Barking & Dagenham
IT’S TWENTY-ONE GOALS now in four London Girls’ League games (including a 0-0 draw with Woking) for rampant Barking & Dagenham as they secured qualification for the Super Six with an impressive win over St Albans. A third league hat-trick of the season for Kara Mason-Wisbey – who netted five times in total – plus a brace from Violette Sharpe and a third of the season for Tianna Dowuona-Hammond, eased the visitors to victory despite the tie remaining in the balance for much of the first half.
Barely sixty seconds were on the clock when Mason-Wisbey opened her account for the day. Barking & Dagenham’s high-press caused uncertainty in the St Albans’ defence, with Ruby Abela, Lily-Mae Elsey and Sharpe charging down the space to create a first opening. Mason-Wisbey’s left-foot effort from five yards lacked power but squirmed in anyway to get the scoring under way.
St Albans weren’t about to lie down though and sprung back into life straight from the kick-off. Connie McChrystal had to be at her brilliant best to get down low to her right for a diving stop.
Encouraged by the opening, the home side levelled the score shortly afterwards as Barking & Dagenham conceded possession in midfield and failed to clear their lines.
At 1-1, Barking & Dagenham pressed to regain their advantage but spurned several clear chances.
Sharpe and Abela regularly found themselves in great goal-scoring positions but it took until midway through the half for the visitors to register their second.
Mason-Wisbey was involved once again as her initial effort was blocked inside the box. The ball fell kindly to Sharpe however who gobbled up the chance for her fifteenth district goal.
Five minutes later, it was three. Skipper Elsey combined well with Abela on the right before slipping through Sharpe inside the box. The Gascoigne hit-woman slipped in Mason-Wisbey who had ghosted in from the left – and her second of the morning was assured.
Abela then had an effort from twelve yards spectacularly tipped around the post and Sharpe found the woodwork with a thunderous effort shortly before the interval.
There was still time though for a fourth prior to the break. The menacing Sharpe bullied back possession from a St Albans goal-kick before playing in Mason-Wisbey once again to complete her hat-trick.
Half-time saw the introduction of Dowuona-Hammond and she introduced herself to the game in perfect style, stealing in within a minute of the restart for a well-placed effort from inside the box.
The home side were now on the ropes and Barking & Dagenham took full advantage with three goals in quick succession.
A third assist for Sharpe saw Mason-Wisbey get her fourth of the match before Elsey played the ball through to Sharpe inside the box once again. Barking & Dagenham’s leading scorer showed great strength and balance to adjust her feet and rifle home to make it seven, netting her twelfth of the season in the process.
By now, midfield general Elsey was running the show. Her endless industry and nagging distribution were causing problems all over the pitch, putting her team in complete control.
And it was an Elsey set-piece that finished the scoring as she floated across a corner from the right for Mason-Wisbey to volley home from yards out.
It was a performance of authority from Barking & Dagenham who sent a clear message to the rest of their league of their intent. The two-time champions are determined to go for the title once again, racking up a twenty-third game in succession without defeat in the competition.
Hillingdon remain in the final group match on March 14th.
Barking & Dagenham: C McChrystal (Grafton); A Santo (Henry Green); R Abela (Dorothy Barley); L Elsey (Northbury); Y Moore (Henry Green); T Duouwana-Hammond (George Carey); V Sharpe (Gascoigne); K Mason-Wisbey (William Bellamy); A Dhillon (Valence)