Kelly-Jade Whelan strikes the winner
AFC Wimbledon Ladies earned reward for perseverance as they came from behind to earn a victory that made it seven matches unbeaten in the league.
A 2-1 win meant that Chris Lyons’ side consolidated top spot in the London & South East Regional Women’s Premier League, but they had to do it the hard way after stern resistance from opponents Crawley Wasps.
Despite early domination from the Dons, Crawley took the lead with goalkeeper Tash Salgado unable to do anything about a decent strike from the visitors.
It didn’t take long for Wimbledon to respond though and Zoe Clifford struck the crossbar, before Kelly-Jade Whelan (pictured) put the rebound wide.
Salgado then showed her quality between the sticks when she saved a free-kick to keep Wimbledon just a goal down. At the other end, Sian Wylie was denied by the Crawley goalkeeper and a combination of desperate last-ditch defending and deflections kept the visitors ahead by half-time.
Wimbledon showed plenty of fighting spirit in the second half to match Crawley’s physical approach and the home side’s quality eventually told. Emma Keady drew the Dons level 10 minutes after half-time when she finished clinically after a good pass from Wylie.
There was no let-up from Wimbledon after drawing level and just after the hour Clifford put Whelan through and she tucked the ball expertly past the Crawley goalkeeper.
Wylie almost put the game out of reach of the visitors and Whelan hit the post twice in the final stages, but two was enough to maintain Wimbledon’s impressive start to the season.
“Crawley’s physical nature got the better of us in the first half and we have Tash to thank for keeping the score within our grasp,” said manager Chris Lyons. “The players gave us the perfect response for the second half and we were more than a match for Crawley. We restricted them to only a couple of chances, and dominated the possession to get the three points. Our fighting spirit and footballing quality came through in the second half, and showed why we remain the top side in the league.”
Kelly-Jade Whelan earned the player of the match award, voted for by the opposition.
Trimnell (Clements 35), Hoesli-Atkins, Clifford, Wylie, Keady, Whelan.AFC Wimbledon: Salgado, Colliver (Mclaren 62), Houghton-North, Sargent, Clarke,