Essex Ladies chalked-up their first win of the season as they started 2019 in style with a 6-0 win over Hertfordshire at Aveley FC’s Parkside stadium.
First-half goals from Courtney Clarke, Zoe Rushen and Lindsey Morgan set Essex on their way to a comfortable win, with Georgia Holdaway, Paris Smith and Morgan’s second of the evening sealing the win in the second period.
With the Southern Counties Cup comprising of two groups, this was the second of three group games for Kim Coster’s Essex side. Although an opening game defeat in Middlesex means final qualification is agonisingly just out of reach, Essex can seal second place in the group with victory over the Army in a fortnight’s time.
Essex were on the front foot from the start and, after applying some early pressure, Zoe Rushen saw her shot parried away by visiting goalkeeper Yasmine Walford. Morgan then drilled a firm shot just off-target as the ball bounced around the penalty area and Hertfordshire stopper Walford made a fine save to tip the ball over the top form Rushen, who had turned her marker.
It was from the resulting corner, though, that saw Essex took the lead, as Clarke’s out-stretched left boot poked home Lucy Jones’ flag kick. Clarke then nodded Paris Smith’s cross just wide before Rushen, appearing in her 20th fixture for her county, made it 2-0, excellently controlling a ball from Clarke and finishing well from ten yards.
The third arrived just two minutes prior to the interval. A left-flank ball found Morgan, who created space for herself and fired into the far corner. Holdaway’s first representative football goal added the fourth on 57 minutes, firing a shot into the bottom right-hand corner via a slight deflection.
Further chances for Essex saw Rushen’s shot pushed over by Walford before Morgan’s corner saw Hannah Porter’s header nodded over by Herts defender Carla Breckenbridge. Essex’s Sophie Vale then got through on goal, but was denied by a good block from Walford. The frame of the goal soon saved the visitors twice when Rushen hit the post then Paris Smith struck the bar.
The hosts weren’t to be denied further, though and they added a fifth on 78 minutes. Rushen’s right-wing cross was chested home by Paris Smith at the far post. Finally, the scoring was completed a minute into added time as Vale’s low cross was converted by Morgan at the near post.
Essex: Alex Baker (Billericay Town), Kelsey Smith (Billericay Town), Hannah Porter (Leyton Orient), Laken Duchar-Clark (Ipswich Town), Lucy Jones (Billerica Town), Kerry Stimson (Ipswich Town), Lindsey Morgan (Billericay Town), Paris Smith (Billericay Town), Zoe Rushen (Billericay Town), Courtney Clarke (C & K Basildon), Abigail Fry (Hutton). Substitutes (repeated): Georgia Holdaway (Brentwood Town), Sophie Vale (Billericay Town).
Hertfordshire: Yasmine Walford (Royston Town), Becky Fisk (Royston Town), Louise Sollis (Stevenage), Katie Farrell (Harlow Town), Ellie Lovelock (St Albans City), Hayley Wood-Thompson (Stevenage), Erin Davis (Cambridge City), Gemma Biggadike (Stevenage), Danielle Maloney (Watford), Naomi Sleator (Stevenage), Carla Breckenbridge (Stevenage). Substitute (repeated): Eva Ramsey (Royston Town).
Referee: Lee Markwick.
Assistant Referees: Anthony Abbs and Neil Troubridge.