Albion overcame Crawley Wasps in the Sussex Women's Challenge Cup Final.
Russo 8, 53
CRAWLEY WASPS 1
- Albion win the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup
- Alessia Russo (2), Kate Natkiel, Lucy Somes and Hollie Olding all score
- Suzanna Davies hits back for the Wasps
- The Seagulls win the trophy for a third successive year
Brighton & Hove Albion lifted the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup after recording a convincing 5-1 victory over Crawley Wasps at Culver Road this evening.
Early goals from Alessia Russo, Kate Natkiel and Lucy Somes gave Albion a 3-0 lead before Suzanne Davies pulled one back for Crawley, but Russo secured her brace and Hollie Olding added late on to seal victory.
George Parris made four changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Millwall Lionesses, with development squad players Leah Samain and Natalie Taylor coming into the side, as well as Olding and Russo.
The Seagulls took the lead after just eight minutes when Russo raced onto Somes’ defence-splitting pass, and the striker calmly rounded Wasps goalkeeper Marie Gillstroem before firing the ball into an empty net.
Natkiel added to the scoreline three minutes later after being sent through on goal, and with Gillstroem charging off her line again, the midfielder found the bottom corner from inside the box.
The Wasps couldn’t handle Albion’s early dominance and Somes found the top corner with a delightful effort from just inside the penalty area, after Taylor fed the winger with a brilliant through-ball in the 12th minute.
Somes could have secured a brace moments later when Russo squared the ball inside the box, but Albion’s number 11 shot wide of the target from just a few yards out.
Naomi Cole had Crawley’s first opportunity after 25 minutes when she beat the offside trap, but the midfielder could only find the side-netting after surging into Albion’s penalty area.
Taylor was inches away from adding a fourth for the Seagulls, but her low-driven effort rolled narrowly wide of the target, before Holly Turbill fired straight at Samain up the other end.
Crawley found a breakthrough of their own in the 42nd minute when Davies picked up the ball inside the box, and the winger found the top corner with an unstoppable effort to make it 3-1 at the break.
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Cole fired towards goal with a speculative free-kick from 25 yards but Samain pulled off a brilliant save to deny the midfielder, before Albion restored their three-goal lead shortly afterwards.
Olding’s shot from long range was deflected upwards inside the box, and Russo was on hand to volley the ball into the bottom corner after 53 minutes.
Rosanne Fine went close with a ferocious effort that was heading for the top corner, but Samain denied the striker with a superb one-handed save, before Natkiel fired against the crossbar from just inside the box.
Turbill headed narrowly wide of the target after connecting with Nicholle Smith’s shot at the back post, moments before Natkiel raced through on goal and side-footed inches wide of Gillstroem’s left-hand upright.
Amy Taylor had an effort ruled out for offside after latching onto Jenna Legg’s clever lofted pass, and the same two players combined again with Taylor lifting her shot over the crossbar second time around.
Olding rounded off the scoring in the 89th minute as she cooly slotted the ball home from Taylor’s pass, as the Seagulls beat the Wasps by the same scoreline as they did in the final last season.
ALBION: Samain; Ritchie; Young (A.Taylor 46), Ashton-Jones (Young 77), Perry; Legg, N Taylor (Barton 58), Olding (A.Taylor 61), Somes (Tubby 46); Russo (N.Taylor 90), Natkiel (Olding 85).
SUBS NOT USED: Wilson (GK).
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