In what was Essex’s first Women’s representative fixture for three years, goals in each half from Ashley Cheatley and Jenny Banfield sealed the win for the host county.
An Essex side consisting of six debutants certainly matched Middlesex for much of the contest, even if the hosts enjoyed the majority of the chances. On more than one occasion, they found Essex ‘keeper Emily Mackler in inspired form.
The first real effort of the contest saw Mackler gather well from a Laura Huse effort before at the other end, Essex’s Lindsey Morgan threaded a ball through to Whitney Locke who was denied by Middlesex ‘keeper Sophie Shults.
The home side grabbed the lead on 22 minutes as a low ball was cut back for Cheatley to fire into the roof of the net.
A curling shot from Middlesex’s Caitlen Boodram-Star brought a fine save from Mackler before Schults made a good stop to hold on the Nicole Farmer’s shot after a strong run from the Essex midfielder.
On the stroke of half-time, Middlesex’s Alissa Down saw her long range free-kick rattle the crossbar.
Middlesex netted a crucial second goal just three minutes into the second half as Boodram-Star’s cross was turned home by Banfield.
Shortly after, Boodram-Star headed inches wide from a corner before Essex’s Daisy Canny then rifled an angled shot just past the post. Moments later another Essex opportunity saw Farmer bring a good stop from Schults.
A good opening for Middlesex saw Cheatley race through on goal but she screwed her shot wide.
In the final exchanges, Essex’s Canny brought a strong save from Schults before Essex’s late substitute ‘keeper Millie D’Ath made a fantastic save to deny Ami Martins, who’d been played through on goal.
Essex: Emily Mackler (London Seaward), Zoe Smith (Lawford), Olivia Bilson (Bowers & Pitsea), Nicole Farmer (Stevenage), Lisa Ward (East Bergholt United), Abigail Fry (Hutton), Kelsey Smith (Bowers & Pitsea), Lindsey Morgan (Lawford), Georgia Box (Lawford), Whitney Locke (Bowers & Pitsea), Daisy Canny (Lawford). Substitutes (repeated): Kelsey Lucus (Billericay Town), Mille D’Ath (Billericay Town), Hannah Warner (Billericay Town), Abigail Head (Lawford)
Middlesex: Sophie Shults (Ashford Town Middlesex), Sheryce Slater (Enfield Town, Lavana Neufville (Ashford Town Middlesex), Gabby Bishop (Queens Park Rangers), Sarah Coomson (Actonians), Katie Ackerman (Queens Park Rangers), Caitlen Boodram-Star (Haringey Borough), Alissa Down (Ashford Town Middlesex), Jenny Banfield (Denham United), Aimee Durn (Ashford Town Middlesex), Ami Martins (Queens Park Rangers). Substitutes (repeated): Laura Huse (Ashford Town Middlesex), Megan Peters-Weise (Haringey Borough), T’Yana Nee Chambers (Actonians), Ashley Cheatley (Ashford Town Middlesex)