Goals in each half from Sophie Brown and Amy Russ saw Kent overcome Essex at Aveley’s Parkside stadium to seal the Southern Counties Women’s Cup.
Brown squeezed home an early free kick before Russ’ stunning, long-range effort doubled the visitors lead as a fourth successive win gave Kent an unassailable lead at the top of the table. Kim Coster’s Essex side can hold their heads high from a positive performance, though, and will feel they could have grabbed something from the match themselves.
It was a first defeat of the season for Coster’s side in their first season in the Southern Counties competition. Having drawn with the Royal Navy and Sussex, a victory over Hertfordshire in their previous fixture left Essex with a pleasing haul of five points from their fixtures.
It was with only 2 minutes on the clock that Kent edged themselves ahead. A Brown free kick from an acute angle snuck inside the near post after catching out Essex goalkeeper Robyn Strauss. Strauss will’ve been disappointed with the manner of the goal, but she has been in fine form for her county this season. Soon afterwards Strauss was quick off her line as Charlie Myhill burst through, but the subsequent angled shot was just wide.
Essex hit the crossbar when Miagh Downey’s dipping strike bounced over the top and, seconds later, the hosts were close again. Courtney Clarke teed-up Georgia Box, who side-footed just wide. Strauss later made a good stop to deny Russ, with the Kent skipper having burst into the area just before the break.
After the restart, Essex hit the crossbar for a second time when debutant Chloe Bassett’s corner bounced to safety before Kent scored their second on 63 minutes, Russ finding the roof of the net with a superb 40-yard effort. Another fine long-range attempt from Essex’s Downey then brought an excellent save from Cara Davies, who tipped the ball over the top.
Essex substitute ‘keeper Hayley Johnson then did well to deny Jess Oldfield while, at the other end, the ball broke kindly for Essex’s Clarke in the box and she turned and fired just over the top with what proved to be the last opening of the game.
Essex: Robyn Strauss (Billericay Town), Lucy Jones (Writtle), Charlotte Bryant (Writtle), Courtney Lumley (Billericay Town), Miagh Downey (Ipswich Town), Nicole Farmer (Billericay Town), Paris Smith (Billericay Town), Lindsay Morgan (Billericay Town), Georgia Box (Billericay Town), Hayley Piggott (Billericay Town), Courtney Clarke (Writtle). Substitutes (repeated): Hayley Johnson (Runwell Sports), Georgia Holdaway (Brentwood Town), Sophie Vale (Writtle), Niamh Gamble (Writtle), Chloe Bassett (Harlow Town).
Kent: Cara Davies (Gillingham), Faith Cullen-Cooper (Aylesford), Millie Waud (Gillingham), Olivia Jestin (Aylesford), Natasha Moloney (Meridian), Skye McNally (Parkwood), Niamh Jestin (Aylesford), Sophie Brown (Aylesford), Amy Russ (Meridian), Charlie Myhill (Parkwood), Aileen Williams (Gillingham). Substitutes (repeated): Jess Oldfield (Phoenix Sports), Fiona Constable (Aylesford).
Referee: Joseph Gray (Dagenham)
Assistant Referees: Sam Wigington (Stanford-le-Hope) and Adekola Adeyemi (South Woodham Ferrers).