Crawley Wasps LFC v AFC Phoenix MATCH REPORT

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Ariana Fleischman nets Crawley Wasps’ second goal (Picture: Michael Hulf)

Crawley Wasps 2 AFC Phoenix 3

Crawley Wasps got their hands on the London & South East Premier Division trophy on Sunday but could not add the League Cup to their haul after losing 3-2 to AFC Phoenix in the final.

The showpiece at Maidstone United’s 4,200-capacity Gallagher Stadium was heading for extra-time when Phoenix – the only side to take a point off Wasps this season – struck an injury-time winner.

It was harsh on Paul Walker’s side, who had dominated after the break but lacked a cutting edge.

A cagey opening exploded into life with two freak goals at either end.

Wasps went in front on 14 minutes as Suzanne Davies’ cross was spilled by the goalkeeper and rebounded in off Faye Rabson, but Phoenix levelled shortly afterwards direct from a corner.

However, Wasps went back in front almost immediately, Davies collecting Naomi Cole’s crossfield pass before crossing for Ariana Fleischman to convert.

Rabson was then denied twice by the keeper but the clinical Phoenix pegged Wasps back again six minutes before half time.

Despite having the better of the second half, Wasps were unable to break down the well-organised Dulwich outfit until the 73rd minute when Kemina Webber turned Rabson’s cross against the post.

Crawley Wasps, with mascots from their Under-11s, line up with the league trophy. (Picture: Michael Hulf)

Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs got behind a Phoenix effort while at the other end Cole sent a free-kick just over the bar.

Then in the first minute of stoppage time, Wasps lost possession in midfield and were made to pay.

“To concede a minute from the end of the game was heartbreaking,” said Walker.

“Obviously we’d have liked to have done the double this season but winning the league was the big prize for us.”

Promoted Wasps will next season play in the FA Women’s National League South East, alongside the likes of Ipswich, Luton, Stevenage and Leyton Orient.

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Drury, Ward; Elphick (T. Smith), Cole; Davies, Fleischman, Rabson; Webber. Subs not used: Hillman, Natalie Stephenson, N. Smith.

Crawley Wasps LFC – www.crawleywasps.com

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