Wantage Held By Laurel Park
The day dawned cool, overcast and raining which, following the glorious summer, was a very rude introduction to the winter ahead. Despite the incessant rain, Wantage began brightly enough but tended to panic when challenged; this resulted in possession being conceded through wayward passing. Although the slower starters, Starz were disciplined in defence and easily contained the Town attack, with a sharp backline which moved as a unit and effectively utilised the off-side.
Seventeen minutes in and with their first foray into the Wantage box, Starz won a penalty following a clumsy tackle. The resultant spot-kick was placed too close to the Wantage keeper, Sophie Jones, who kept the score even with a dive to her right. Five minutes later, a long ball from Edel Nicholson opened Laurel Park’s back-line allowing Ellie Mitchell to go one-on-one with the advancing keeper. Taking to ball around her, Mitchell laid the ball back to Mya Hickmott (POTM) whose shot from the edge of the area resulted in her first goal for the club and Wantage taking the lead.
Still the rain fell, but this didn’t dampen the spirits of Laurel Park who increased the pressure on Town’s goal. Their efforts were rewarded in the fifty-seventh minute. Another clumsy challenge, this time on the edge of the Wantage penalty area, resulted in a free-kick which was converted by a wonderful executed strike. Parity was resumed.
Wantage then suffered a major blow with the loss of their skipper, Izzy Ottley. Falling awkwardly, Ottley injured her ankle resulting in a trip to A&E. Either side could have won this game, but I suspect that both teams were relieved to hear the final whistle and get in the dry. Special mention goes to two Wantage players making their debuts, Nicole Bowers and Jo Ilott who settled into the team well and gave two very solid performances.