Weymouth Women 5

Johnson 11’ Howard 66’ 81’ Sibley 72’ Beasley 87’

Alton Ladies 1

Kotoula 80’

Women’s FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round (03/10/21)

Crowd 203

Report: James Spring

Five Star Terras Make History

A bumper crowd of over 200 were on hand to roar on the Terras as they made their long-awaited debut at the Bob Lucas Stadium, and they watched the home side make history in their first FA Cup venture since reforming just last summer.

It was set to be a tight affair with Alton playing at the same level as Weymouth in the Hampshire Premier division, and it was a cagey opening ten minutes with both sides trying to settle into the contest.

The first chance would fall for Weymouth after ten minutes when Lily Beasley played a brilliant cross-field ball to Shakira Howard who took a touch to control the ball before forcing a good save from Alton goalkeeper Sophie Bulpitt.

The initial corner wasn’t fully dealt with and Weymouth won another corner on the opposite side, and this time they took advantage.

Howard’s delivery was met by the captain Charlie Wilson at the back post. She did well to control the ball before squaring it to Naomi Johnson who had a simple tap in from close range to give Weymouth an 11th-minute lead.

The next 10 minutes would develop into a midfield battle, although Weymouth had a couple of half-chances to double their lead.

On 22 minutes Howard laid the ball back for player-manager Tasha Sibley who hit a shot wide of the mark from the edge of the D. And a minute later Charlie Wilson let fly from around 25 yards but her stinging effort was well held by Bulpitt in the Alton goal.

Before the half-hour mark, Alton would come close to an equaliser when a free-kick out on the touchline was whipped into the box. It fell for a striker in the six-yard box but her first-time effort was over the crossbar.

A couple of minutes later there was a bit of controversy as Weymouth had a second goal dubiously ruled out.

It all came from another excellent crossfield ball from Beasley which Howard ran onto. She was forced wide but cut back infield. Beasley made a run but Howard went for goal herself and the goalkeeper spilt it through her gloves and could only watch the ball drop into the net behind her. Weymouth celebrated,

but then the referee spoke to his linesman before disallowing the goal because Beasley had strayed offside, despite her having no involvement with the goal itself.

Alton would end the first half strongly with a number of promising attacks which the Weymouth defence did well to snuff out. Emma Potter in particular showed fantastic energy to get back and make a stunning last-ditch sliding challenge to put the ball behind for a corner just as the striker was about the pull the trigger, as the Terras took their lead into half-time.

Alton continued to apply the pressure at the start of the second half. On 51 minutes another free-kick into the Weymouth box resulted in an almighty scramble in the six-yard box. Two or three shots were blocked before Weymouth managed to get the ball up the pitch to safety.

Alton then appeared to be in for an equaliser again just the after the hour mark, but the superb Emma Potter was again there to sprint back and mop up the danger, and it proved a crucial intervention, as 5 minutes later Weymouth would double their lead.

Shakira Howard latched onto a brilliant ball over the top of the defence. She brought the ball down, saw the goalkeeper off her line, and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper from some 25 yards. The ball seemed to take an eternity to drop, but it fell into the back of the net to the delight of the home crowd.

There was a delay of a few minutes before play got back underway as an Alton player received treatment, but when play did restart Weymouth were on the score sheet again almost immediately.

Howard’s corner from the left-wing bounced off a defender in the middle of the box. Beasley was able to get a touch to get it into the path of Sibley who lashed the ball into the top corner of the net to have Weymouth in dreamland at 3-0 up.

Alton almost pulled one back shortly afterwards but goalkeeper Kate Osment was on hand to make a brilliant reaction save to tip the ball behind for a corner which Weymouth cleared, and they raced up the other end and should have had another goal. Beasley skipped past the full-back and squared it for substitute Sophie Webber-Green, but she hit it straight at the goalkeeper who made a good save.

On 80 minutes Alton got on the score sheet in truly audacious fashion as Zoe Kotoula struck one from around 35 yards which looped over Osment for 3-1.

But any hopes of an Alton comeback were extinguished barely a minute later as Weymouth restored their three-goal cushion.

Sophie Webber-Green showed great tenacity to win the ball from a defender on the corner of the box before pulling the ball back into the path of Charlie Wilson. She shaped to shoot, but Shakira Howard got to the ball first and hit it first time over the goalkeeper into the net.

Credit to Alton, who even at 4-1 down continued to throw bodies forwards, but credit also to the Terras who continued to put their bodies on the line to block shots and clear the danger.

The cherry on the cake for Weymouth would arrive 3 minutes from time as Webber-Green played a brilliant ball through the Alton defence to Lily Beasley who still had half the Alton half to run. The keeper came out to narrow the angle but Beasley calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner to round off a special afternoon for the Terras.

The heavens opened at full time but it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the home side or their supporters who stayed behind to show their appreciation at the end of the game.

It really turned into a dream afternoon for Weymouth. A lot of hard work from too many people to mention went into making sure this showpiece game could be played at the Bob Lucas Stadium, so to see a bumper crowd enjoy a scintillating performance on the pitch made it all worthwhile.

Weymouth will find out their next opponent’s in Monday’s draw, where they’ll be just one win away from the first round proper.

TERRAS: Osment, Potter, C.Barnard-Irons, Johnson (So.Webber-Green 58′), De-Havilland (Taylor 78′), B.Barnard-Irons, Beasley, Whiting, Wilson, Sibley, Howard (Wootton 85′).

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