Essex Women opened-up the new Southern Counties Cup campaign with a 5-0 win over the Royal Air Force in the counties’ first ever meeting at Aveley FC’s Parkside stadium.
Having led at half time through Zoe Rushen’s long-range effort, Essex chipped in with a dominant second-half display as Holly Turner, Kelly Weatherall, Poppy Binding and a second from Rushen sealed a 5-0 win and an early top spot in the North Group, with games against holders Middlesex and the Army to follow.
Kim Coster’s Essex side were on the front foot from the early exchanges and nearly took a fortuitous lead just 3 minutes in. Rushen closed down RAF goalkeeper Laura Parsons with the ball bouncing just wide of the post. Essex were soon close again when Turner got through on goal, but she pulled her shot inches wide.
The lead arrived on 38 minutes. Rushen’s lob from 25 yards proved to be inch perfect as it dropped just below the crossbar. Rushen then curled a shot into gloves of Parsons before the lead was doubled 18 minutes into the second period, Turner sprinting into the area and firing home an accurate finish.
Parsons later made a good stop to push Rushen’s 20-yard shot wide, but a great goal put Essex 3-0 ahead on 76 minutes. Rushen was again involved in the build-up, Weatherall completing the move with an excellent finish into the roof of the net.
Two chances for Rushen saw her first fire just wide before watching a shot cleared off the line by the RAF’s Sam Wylie. Essex’s fourth, on 88 minutes, arrived as Rushen’s blocked shot fell to Binding, who tucked away the rebound.
The fifth arrived late, but it was worth waiting for. A fine, chipped through ball from Lindsey Morgan picked out the run of Rushen, who lobbed home.
Essex: Alex Baker (Billericay Town), Laken Duchar-Clark (Billericay Town), Nicole Farmer (Harlow Town), Abigail Fry (Hutton), Evie Anderson (Billericay Town), Courtney Lumley (Billericay Town), Jay Blackie (Billericay Town), Lindsey Morgan (Billericay Town), Holly Turner (AFC Basildon), Courtney Clarke (AFC Basildon), Zoe Rushen (Billericay Town). Substitutes (repeated): Kelly Weatherall (AFC Basildon), Emily Mackler (Leigh Ramblers), Poppy Binding (AFC Basildon), Kerris Adams (AFC Basildon), Grace Gillard (AFC Basildon).
Royal Air Force: SAC Laura Parsons, Cpl Sam Wylie, SAC Nichola Symons, SAC Emma Connington, SAC Rach Rutherford, Cpl Ash Housley-Scott, Sgt Zara McIntosh, Sgt Cat Beaver, LAC Lauren Roberts, SAC Rebecca Wadelin, AC Charlotte Arrowsmith. Substitutes (repeated): SAC Lou Daymono, Cpl Katherine Ratcliffe, SAC Jodie Smith, SAC Lucy Tancock, Sgt Michelle Harvey-Perkins.
Referee: Emma Gregory.
Assistant Referees: Robert Slater and Jack DeSchoolmeester.
Fourth Official: Sgt Lee Suggett.
: Nicky Hayes.