Leyton Ladies FC started their FA Cup campaign strongly on the last weekend of summer, with proactive and positive football displayed in the thirty degree October heat to clinch a win against league-below team Haringey Borough.
The opening ten minutes saw three solid attempts on goal, assisted by strong work on the right wing by Eleonora Vriend. Good crossover play between forwards Lizzie Tucker and Isabelle Tomkins led to a powerful shot by Tucker heading straight into the keepers’ hands. Haringey quickly responded and were soon in the Leyton box, where central defender Janice Healy stood up to the physical Haringey forwards with the first of many clean slide tackles. Newly positioned defender Morag Mitchel-Carvalho successfully navigated the ball away from the danger zone, passing the ball through to holding midfielder Yasemin Cakli. Good one-two work and build-up play between Cakli and left winger Marta Choruzy was cut short by a heavy-footed Haringey tackle.
Gaining possession, Haringey launched an attack on the Leyton goal, but right back Alba Dalmonego chased down the ball and cleared to holding midfielder Lydia Cooper. Cooper took the ball down the wing and put in an accurate cross to Tucker, who controlled the ball well but just placed it wide of the goal. Haringey fought back with a relentless attack, as a free kick in their favour led to quick build-up play and a shot in the Leyton goal, which just skimmed wide. Minutes later, another Haringey shot was chipped way over the crossbar. A short goal kick by Leyton keeper Natasha Lavery was picked up by the Leyton defence, but a mix-up and lack of communication led to Haringey fumbling the ball in to the back of the net and taking the lead after thirty minutes.
Finding themselves 1-0 down, the fired-up Leyton side fought back immediately. A Leyton corner was taken well by Mitchel-Carvalho, but was cleared by the defence. Play quickly switched to the opposite end of the field, with two quick successive Haringey corners. Cooper dispossessed a Haringey midfielder in the centre circle, took it around a second player and then played a perfect through ball to Tucker. Finding herself one-on-one with the keeper, Tucker slotted the ball easily into the back of the net to draw level. Leyton kept up their attacking play for the remainder of the first half, with good interplay between Cooper and Vriend leading to a few promising opportunities for Leyton. Pressure from Tomkins forced a corner, which was taken well by Tucker but just edged wide of the goal. Minutes later, Tucker again found herself one-on-one with the keeper, with all spectators expecting a repeat of Leyton’s first goal. However, Tucker played the ball a little too early, knocking it wide of the goal.
Haringey started the second half strongly, and a miskick by Kirsty Berry led to a Haringey shot grazing the side netting. Leyton counter-attacked with more good interplay between Cooper and Vriend, who set up Tucker for another great attempt on goal – an ambitious chip on the keeper which just lifted a little bit too high, dipping over the crossbar for a goal kick. Leyton continued to attack, with Cooper switching play from left to right then playing a through ball to Vriend. Vriend held off the defence well, taking the ball around two players before slotting the ball past the keeper to make it 2-1. Minutes after this, captain Healy gave away a free kick on the edge of the box, a contentious decision as Healy successfully and cleanly got the ball. The free kick was well taken by Haringey, but well gathered by Lavery, who cleared to ball quickly with a powerful kick that took the ball deep in to the Haringey defence. A lovely flick on by Tomkins set up Tucker, who took it around the last defender and chipped the ball just over the keeper’s reach and into the back of the net, bringing the score up to 3-1.
Leyton opportunities were being created left right and centre. Great midfield work between Cakli and Vriend was passed on to Tomkins, who faced an open goal as the keeper tried to scramble back to her position. However, the official’s flag was up and offside was given. Undeterred, Tomkins had another great attempt on goal a few minutes later, blasting a powerful high shot that just edged above the crossbar. Haringey fought back, and had several attempts on goal. Keeper Lavery pulled off a string of good saves, blocking Haringey and preventing them from scoring several times. Lavery found herself one-on-one with the tall Haringey forward, and timed her approach perfectly, blocking the shot and keeping Haringey out. As the game edged to a close, defender Dalmonego collided with a Haringey player during a tackle, and fell to the ground injured. Dalmonego played on for a minute until she was forced to come off with a suspected broken collarbone. Substitute Hannlot van Bruggen replaced Dalmonego, and got stuck in immeditately with some strong tackles and clearances. The heat and exhaustion were taking their toll on both teams, and the tempo slowed down a lot in the remaining ten minutes, with a few chanced for both Haringey and Leyton coming to nothing.
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