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Post by TonyDart »

Match report: Dartford 3 Abingdon Utd 1
Women’s FA Cup 1st round proper played on Sunday 12th November 2023
at Princes Park Community 3G pitch. Kick-off 1pm
Team: Jade Charlton, Charlie Torry, Jo Woodgates, Georgie Davis, Meghan McKeag,
Shannon Wason, Paris Smith, Lizzie Adams, Shauni Griffiths, Nicha Dyett, Emily Vaughan
Subs: (used) – Emily Read, Bethany Powell, Chana Hinds
Bench not used: Hannah Cleary, Talisha Hickson (GK), Gabby Howell and Emily Woodhouse.
Scorers: Emily Vaughan, Jo Woodgates, Lizzie Adams
Attendance 262

Playing in the 1st round proper for the second successive season Darts produced a wonderful performance and any ‘floating’ supporter would have reckoned on the team in yellow and blue being the underdogs. In the first half Darts really dominated their higher league opponents and went into the break with a two-goal lead, which could so easily have been four on another day, such was their dominance in this game.

The first shot of the day was Dartford’s and was in the very first minute of the game. A throw-in to Paris Smith was returned to Meghan McKeag who produced a great cross into the penalty area and was partially cleared but only as far as Shauni Griffiths. Her high shot from the right diagonal of the box beat the goalie but just cleared the crossbar by inches.

It should have been a wake-up call for Abingdon but over the next ten minutes or so it was clear that their defence did not like Darts’ harrowing tactics of chasing down the ball, and the defenders very nearly fell victim of losing the ball close to goal when, in turn, Paris, Nicha Dyett, Emily Vaughan and Shauni, hurried them into mistakes and bad passing out of defence.

In the second minute the Abingdon keeper had to be alert to the threat of Emily Vaughan’s shot on target and two minutes later a throw-in from Meghan to Emily Vaughan set up Paris whose shot on target took a wild deflection and went out for a corner.

On six minutes the pressing paid off. Nicha’s powerful and determined running almost scared the life out of the defender who attempted to play it across the goal. The pass was too weak and was intercepted by Emily Vaughan whose first touch diverted the ball into the goal, just inside the right-hand post. A dream start for the Darts, and a dreadful defensive display by the visitors. 1-0

Abingdon played a couple of searching balls down the right-wing but Meghan and Georgie Davis were equal to them.

On nine minutes, Shannon Wason received the ball in the centre-circle and played a great ball out to Shauni on the right-wing who took on the Abingdon defender who conceded a corner.

Meghan played it short to Nicha who got over a great cross into the box and the ball landed near Shannon, who turned and got a touch on the ball to Jo Woodgates who had joined in the fray. The ball ran loose, just a yard or so from the goal-line but the keeper made a brave save, but still the ball was in front of goal but Paris, off balance and falling to the ground just couldn’t get her leg around the ball enough to touch it over the line and Abingdon scrambled it away for another corner.

Abingdon survived the corner and tried to get their midfield into play but so often Darts were quicker to the ball
and able to feed good passes out to both wings.

Inside the first twenty minutes the visitors just didn’t have any idea of how to crack the Darts’ defence and any attacks, which were few, were thwarted by the efficient back four of Charlie Torry, Jo, Georgie and Meghan.

On 24 minutes Shauni blasted another shot at goal but the ball was rising as it closely passed over the bar. Then a delicate flick-on by Emily Vaughan to Paris almost put her through on goal but a defender just got a touch on the ball to divert it away to safety.

A minute later a cross from Lizzie Adams was headed goalwards by Paris but the keeper was alert to it and the save was made to look easier than it really was.

Then on the half-hour Darts’ secured their second goal – and what a goal it was!
Nicha, who was no end of trouble for the Abingdon defence, was pulled back and a free-kick awarded, 25-yards out and central to the goal. Everyone lined up along the 18-yards line – and waited.

Jo Woodgates lined herself up, and her right-footed shot simply flew. A real cannonball shot that literally rocketed into the top-tight hand corner of Abingdon’s goal, giving the keeper no chance.

It wasn’t until the 37th minute that Abingdon played a decent long pass along the deck in the direction of their right winger, but even so this was like many others that were over-hit going out for a Darts’ goal-kick.

In the 42nd minute Darts almost increased their lead. A free kick on the left from Meghan was placed nicely into the area and a weak header out only reached Emily Vaughan who managed to hit the ball goalwards and if it wasn’t for striking a defender’s leg on the goal-line it would surely have been a goal.

In the dying minutes of the half another chance came Dartford’s way. This time an accurate cross from Paris delivered to the back post found Emily Vaughan, a couple of yards out who got in her header, but close defending did enough to make Emily’s effort go wide.

HT 2-0

As the second half progressed Abingdon began to press Dartford, really for the first time in the match, but it meant that the visitor’s back-four played higher to the centre-line, which although risky, they did play a very good, tight and well-drilled offside trap.

Dartford managed some good breaks but Abingdon had their first real sniff at goal when a dangerous ball was sent across Dart’ goal area but there was no player there to take advantage, and the chance was gone.

It was by no means a ‘back-to-the-wall’ defensive half for the Darts because for all of Abingdon’s newly-found possessional qualities, they didn’t really make great strides at getting anywhere near Darts’ goal.

Dartford still seemed to have lots of ideas up their sleeves and increasingly as Abingdon pushed forward, they left gaps and the ‘Homesters’ exploited this. Darts’ creativity even in close-quarters near the bi-lines were often rewarded by the winning of corners and Georgie craftily won at least two of these with little nicks and rebounds off the defenders in tight situations.

Just under thirty minutes into the second half, Jo’s corner right into the six-yard box was initially cleared but picked up by Charlie Torry and supplied a super pass inside to Paris who got off a great shot that for a moment looked destined for the net but with the goalie diving full-length to her left the ball just curled away from the post. A close call for Abingdon that would have surely broken their hearts with no way back.

Darts substitutions were made at different intervals in the second half, with Chana making a welcome return after injury, Emily Read giving Darts more width on the right and Bethany Powell brought into the action to replace tired limbs and helped in shoring up the defence and midfield.

Just on the half-hour there was a nasty collision of heads involving Emily Vaughan and happily both players resumed after attention.

Into the last five minutes of normal time Darts’ continued to harass Abingdon’s back line and it was certainly not one-way traffic to Darts’ goal, although Jade did have a bit of work to do, efficiently dealing with a couple of efforts that were driven at her.

A long kick from Jade was flicked on to Emily Vaughan who was then pushed unceremoniously to the floor on the edge of the area.
Charlie played a neat header forward to Nicha and her excellent cross was met by Emily Vaughan on the volley but went over the top – that would have been some spectacle if it had hit the back of the net.

Dartford although content to sit back a little, now had the power of Emily Read bursting forward and she was willing to take the ball into the thick of it and her trickery won another free-kick for a foul.

Now into added time (and there was a lot of it), Georgie put a lovely ball down for Nicha, who pressurised the defender into losing possession. Shauni managed to keep the ball in play then cut inside and got off a brilliant shot. It had a deftly swerve to it and the goalie could only parry it into the path of captain Lizzie Adams who reeled away, arms triumphantly in the air, after slotting it home for 3-0.

Still there was time for Abingdon to pull a goal back in the dying minutes. It came from a rather speculative high shot which evaded Jade’s high leap and it fell into the goal just inches under the bar.

Then in the last seconds of the match Jade pulled off a good save, from a shot which was low and directly in front of her, the type of shot that many an experienced goalie might have spilled. Jade clung on tight.

The whistle blew for time and Darts’ were thoroughly worthy winners of a keenly contested cup-tie.

Summing up:

All of Darts’ forwards were a real handful for Abingdon with good passing, quick one-two’s, accurate feints and flicks, especially from Emily Vaughan and Paris, and that hard ‘in-your-face’ pressing from Nicha that all served to give the Abingdon defence the runaround in the first half.

Darts’ wing-play from Shauni, throughout the whole game had Abingdon’s defence wondering where she was going to appear next and great credit also to Nicha who together with Meghan kept the aerial assault going from the left. Emily Read made a great impact on Darts’ right in the second half.

Backing up wing play also from Charlie and Georgie was first rate and in the second half especially were able to take the pressure off the defence and keep the ‘Don’s’ defence on their toes, never knowing where the next attacking thrust would come from. Jo Woodgates in the centre of defence was everywhere and many of Darts’ attacks were built from her. …………… and oh yes ……… that GOAL!

Chana Hinds came into the game in the second half and her calmness on the ball was a joy to watch. Bethany Powell was brought on later in the game but still played a crucial part in keeping tight reins on the ‘Don’s forwards and also bolstering Darts’ midfield. The Darts’ midfield won so much during that first-half dominance and this was attributed to Shannon, Lizzie and Paris who distributed the ball well and also held the ball up when it was needed. Behind them the back four of Charlie, Jo, Georgie and Meghan would produce another impeccable display.

Jade had another great performance, doing what she had to deal with well and certainly on a couple of occasions in the second-half when Abingdon were pressing to claw back a goal, she brought off a couple of remarkable saves which she made look so effortless.

If the ‘Dons’ had pulled it back to 2-1 then who knows where the game might have gone, but crucially they didn’t and Darts’ kept playing the good football that we have all become accustomed to watching.

Collectively Darts’ produced another brilliant solid performance. Well done Darts!

Report by Tony Brown

Photos by Taur Everard, Carol White-Griffiths and Alex Barber, with additional videography from Alex. (ABc Video)

Ajaxman DFC
Posts: 287
Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:16 pm


Post by Ajaxman DFC »

It was a thoroughly enjoyable cup tie with the proceeds donated by the fans going to a worthy cause.
I felt it was worth paying the cost of the admission fee several times over.
I understand £216 was collected but don't recall any mention of the supporters' contributions on Gemma's crowd funding page.
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