Crawley Wasps 0 Billericay Town 1: First half penalty deals Wasps promotion blow

Crawley Wasps players celebrate the third-round win at Coventry United. SUS-190701-181340002
Crawley Wasps players celebrate the third-round win at Coventry United. SUS-190701-181340002

Crawley Wasps had to put their title celebrations on hold after losing their top of the table clash against Billericay Town Ladies.

They suffered their first league defeat in two years during their first ever game at Crawley Town’s The People’s Pension Stadium.

Wasps dominated much of the game which was decided by a 39th minute penalty scored by Billericay’s Danica Dougal.

Needing a win to become FA Women’s National League Division One South East champions, Wasps must now win two of their remaining five matches to seal promotion.

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Wasps made one change to the side which beat Luton Town with Niamh Stephenson replacing Ellie Russell who was on the bench.

It was the Crawley side which created the main chances in the first half hour with Amy Green denied by ‘keeper Nikita Runnacles with a shot from the edge of the area.

Billericay were slower out of the blocks and saw their first chance of the game go wide struck from 25 yards by Lindsey Morgan.

Wasps nearly opened the scoring in the 28th minute when a long ball by Darcey James came to Megan Stow whose attempted lob over ‘keeper Runnacles flew over the bar.

Crawley’s good spell continued when a move involving Jenny Drury and Kemina Webber ended with the visitors’ custodian holding a double-shot attempt by Webber.

Billericay took the lead in the 39th minute from the penalty spot calmly put away into the top corner after a cross by Karisa Rodney was handballed by James.

The visitors went close again moments before half-time when Jay Blackie’s cross to Esme Lancaster was headed wide.

The second half started slowly but after 64 minutes Megan Stow had a shot blocked from just outside the areea by the advancing ‘keeper in a move in which Stow was fouled.

From the ensuing free-kick, Rachel Palmer struck narrowly over the bar.

As Wasps pressed for an equaliser, Charlotte Young’s looping header from a corner kick flew narrowly over and Palmer blasted a free-kick from 25 yards was caught by Runnacles.

In the closing stages Naomi Cole forced the Billericay ‘keeper to make a fine save to push her powerful low shot around the post for a corner.

Finally Webber was denied an equaliser with another great save by Runnacles in the 89th minute.

Crawley Wasps: Gibbs, Palmer, Stephenson, James, Young, Drury, Stow, Webber, Green, Fleischman, Cole (capt) (Davies 71)

Unused subs: Graves, Measures, Russell, Ward

Billericay Town: Runnacles, Morgan (capt), Lancaster, Jones, Lumley, Duchar-Clark, Rushen, Dougal, Rodney, Stimson, Blackie (Pittuck 56)

Unused subs: Farmer, Smith, Rains, Stephanou,

Referee: Fabien Le Houezec