Women’s FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round played on Sunday 22nd October 2023
at Princes Park Stadium. k/off 4pm
Team: Jade Charlton, Charlie Torry, Jo Woodgates, Georgie Davis, Meghan McKeag,
Shannon Wason, Paris Smith, Emily Read, Shauni Griffiths, Nicha Dyett, Emily Vaughan
Subs: (used) – Gabby Howell, Emily Woodhouse, Bethany Powell (not used: Hannah Thomas)
Scorers: Shaun Griffiths(3), Charlie Torry(2), Emily Vaughan, Gabby Howell, Paris Smith
Only five days had passed since the epic draw with neighbours Ebbsfleet and with their third game in 8 days fitness might have been an issue – But it never was!
Wycombe Wanderers – (official nickname “The Chairboys” but we’ll call them The Wands) – came into this match on a six-match unbeaten run, but they didn’t realise what was going to hit them.
Inside two minutes Charlie Torry and Paris Smith had set up Emily Read who put over a great cross but which eluded everyone inside the six-yard box and the ball continued to run almost out to the far side line but Shauni Griffiths managed to keep it in play. She then set about beating one, then two, literally waltzing into the penalty area and put a cross in from the left this time, but this too eluded everyone before being kicked away to safety by a ‘Wands’ defender.
At the other end, ‘Wands’ had a long free-kick going for goal, in the hope that the sun would play its part but thankfully Jade was able to track it and see it just clear the crossbar.
Inside the first ten minutes, without being unkind to the ‘Wands’ their defence looked decidedly shaky and were either rattled by Darts’ attacking force or had just not ‘turned-up’ on the day.
Emily Woodhouse, who played her part in the Darts’ control of the midfield
On seven minutes Jo Woodgates hit a long kick which found Nicha Dyett who sent it on to Emily Read then inside to Emily Vaughan who had her back to the goal but swivelled and struck the ball towards the left of the goal. The goalie may have been unsighted and in the end couldn’t quite get her right hand to the ball and it nestled nicely in the bottom left hand corner 1-0.
It was a very open game and this suited Darts just fine and two minutes later from a throw-in from Meghan she received the ball back from Paris Smith who played a delightful pass through to Emily Vaughan who quickly pushed it on for Nicha and as she was surrounded by defenders, managed to feed the ball to Emily Read who shot on the volley but just missed the target. That would have been some goal!
Another chance, on 10 minutes fell to Jo Woodgates whose free-kick cannoned off a defender. It could have gone anywhere but it went out for a corner.
Wands goalie then pulled off a good save from Shauni’s snap shot after she had beaten two defenders.
Only minutes went by before Darts next chance. Shauni fed a good pass out to Meghan who found herself in acres of space and placed an accurate cross right by the crossbar but fell inches over the top, nestling in the goal’s top netting.
Dartford needed to make all this possession and goal chances pay. On 27 minutes Shannon played a nice one-two with Shauni who delivered a shot on target but straight at the goalie, who then spilt it and another shot rained in but hit a defender and was cleared.
At times the Wands were playing a very dangerous game at the back, slow to clear and being easily dispossessed along with some poor decision making in the passing department.
A short corner taken by Meghan to Paris and duly returned enabled Meghan to get a good cross into the area where Emily Vaughan’s header was cleared off the line, Georgie Davis then took a pot-shot before setting up Charlie Torry for another strike at goal but this hit a defender and went out for another corner.
On 35 minutes Shauni took an in-swinging corner and this was delivered “right on the button” in the 6-yard box but Charlie’s shot was charged down but ran out for Nicha who got pushed to the floor – a rather silly foul and unnecessary giveaway. Meghan took the free-kick. Another well-produced cross into the danger area but this time, probably for the first time, Wands’ defenders got a clean header to clear away.
Emily Vaughan could easily have won the award for “flick-of-the-day” if only Darts had scored at the end of it. On 39 minutes Shannon & Meghan between them had won the ball back just inside Darts’ half and played in Jo Woodgates who started to build another forward thrust. She played a ball up to Emily Vaughan and she played the most delightful flick-on that fell nicely in front of the on-rushing Nicha but the keeper was fast out to avert the danger, the ball just running too fast for Nicha to capitalise on.
On 41 minutes it was Emily Vaughan again, on the end of a lovely move that saw her header hit the underside of the bar. Charlie Torry and Emily Read were involved in the build-up to this one with Paris putting over a beautiful cross which Emily Vaughan met with an accurate header that had the goalie beaten all ends up – the keeper going to her right and the header going to her left, but it just wouldn’t go in, and it struck the underside of the bar and was quickly booted clear.
Darts’ still had time for one more charge at the Wands goal when a defender miscued the ball and put in on a plate for Nicha but her shot brought out a great save from the keeper.
With that, the whistle for half-time sounded and would have brought some relief for the Wycombe players and bench
The second half began very much the same way as the first half had ended – with Darts trying hard to obtain the second goal. But now Darts looked hungrier for that goal and they weren’t to disappoint.
Within three minutes Shauni Griffiths had bagged Darts second goal. Shannon Wason played the ball forward to Shauni on the halfway line who played a neat one-two with Nicha before taking it towards the penalty box before unleashing a great shot.
In the next minute Wands goalie was called into action in a last-ditch save when the slightest of touches from Nicha, close-in would have surely deceived the keeper and scored.
Six minutes into the second half and a move involving Charlie Torry set up Paris Smith who let rip from almost 35 yards to score an incredible goal. The ball had sat up nicely for Paris, who, head down, powered the shot goalwards, and it flew and flew some more until it sailed over the desperately leaping goalie.
Then there was more! Both Emily Read and Paris left the ball and fanned out to leave Charlie Torry with the ball at her feet. She looked up and took a leaf out of Paris’ book and thundered a long-range shot out of the reach of the keeper for Darts’ fourth goal
Eleven minutes into the half, and a defensive error had given the ball to Shauni where she made strides into the penalty area and delivered the ball on a plate for Emily Vaughan six or seven yards out and an open goal in her sights. However … Em must have just taken her eye off the ball or simply got the angles wrong, but somehow smashed it over the bar. A real let-off for the Wands.
Two minutes later, Wands had a break-out and brought Jade into action. The shot was powerful, on target for a goal, but also straight at Jade. Jade must have said, “Thank you very much – no problem.”
Then, immediately the ball was up the other end with a forward header by Paris that set Shauni on target for goal, but this time the keeper was equal to it.
A 15th minute corner from Meghan was played to Paris and duly returned and Meghan took it past a defender and shot hard for goal, which may well have crept in at the near post but the keeper made absolutely sure by pushing it round for another corner.
In the 19th minute, Wands had their best shot to date when from a corner kick a strike on Jade’s goal was hit beautifully and Jade made a miraculous save – diving full-length to her left to palm it away to safety.
Not long after, Meghan cut out a menacing cross-field ball and set up Shauni for one of her characteristic runs before putting in an excellent low cross to Nicha, in front of goal, whose attempt was blocked by the keeper but followed up by Gabby Howell, who had great pleasure in smashing into the net for 5-0
Gabby Howell, who scored her first goal for the Darts, and Darts’ fifth
30 minutes into the second half Meghan received an injury but thankfully ran it off. Then Bethany Powell played a fine ball up to Emily Read, who pushed it on to Charlie who played a great ball through the defence down the wing which Nicha just chased and chased never giving up, and then won the corner! From the corner Emily Read sent over another of her accurate crosses and delivered it ‘right on the money’ into the 6-yard box and Charlie Torry managed to get on the end of it to score her second, and Darts 6th goal.
Even now, the goalie was still bringing off some good saves and after Meghan played a little one-two with Shauni, the ball reached Nicha who then worked her way into the penalty box and unleashed a ground shot, but the keeper was down early to this one and denied Nicha a goal.
And still Wands made great efforts to get a goal back but on 33 minutes once again Jade saved well.
With 86 minutes gone, Meghan sent Emily Read on a run to collect her pass which was slightly overhit. The ball was looking to go out of play but Em chased it down and got in another of her great crosses. The ball fell nicely for Shauni whose shot was low and hard and the goalie was beaten by its ferocity plus an awkward bounce just in front of her. 7-0.
In the 87th minute, Wands made a spirited raid on Dartford’s goal and a good cross from the right was whipped in, and from just inside the 18-yard box the shot was delivered into the bottom right hand corner giving Jade no chance. A consolation goal at 7-1
In time added on (92nd minute), Charlie Torry took a throw to Beth who played the ball to the feet of Nicha, she turned on the spot but had the ball nicked off her at a crucial moment for another Darts’ corner. Meghan delivered it with another of her great crosses into the 6-yard box and Shauni rose to glance a header for her hat-trick and Darts’ 8th goal and before the game could be resumed the referee blew for time.
Darts’ fitness levels looked extraordinarily high in this match and the Wands, for much of the game couldn’t handle Darts’ speed and their accuracy of passing and skill at carrying the ball.
Nearing half-time it was a case of Wycombe trying to survive and being happy that the score was only 1-0 against them. But they didn’t reckon on Darts stepping up a gear right from the second half kick-off. Darts had so many chances and the Wands didn’t really have much idea of how to hold the Darts’ forwards. Against this, Wands only produced a couple of break-away affairs either side of half-time plus the consolation goal. Neither did they do much ‘pressing’ of the Darts’ back four.
I doubt if the Darts’ forwards will have too many games this season where they will have so much room and freedom to attack almost at will. – But as they say, all you can do is play against the opposition provided. One nice feature, especially from a spectators’ point of view, was the absence of offsides in the game. I counted only a couple.
Darts played some delightful passing football, and kept growing and growing in confidence and in the end the goals came. So well done Darts – onwards and upwards!
Report by Tony Brown