Barking & Dagenham under-11 girls suffer defeat on return to action

Rihanna Zaman faces the camera (Pic: Barking & Dagenham district)

Rihanna Zaman faces the camera (Pic: Barking & Dagenham district) - Credit: Archant

Barking & Dagenham 1-3 West Kent

After six months without a game, Barking & Dagenham dusted off the cobwebs and got back on the pitch for one last outing as the district under-11 girls’ season came to a close with a 3-1 defeat to West Kent.

Although the rustiness showed in a ruthless opening 10 minutes by the visitors, Barking & Dagenham rallied in a second half-performance full of character and resolve.

The hosts had the first chance in the third minute as Tiana Dowuona-Hammond burst through midfield to slip winger Gracie Jones through on goal. A good first touch on the run and well-struck shot brought a fine save from the West Kent keeper.

Seconds later, though, and the ball was in the net at the other end as the hosts were hit by a devastating counter and within a minute, it was two.

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A late challenge inside the Barking & Dagenham penalty area drew a clear foul, before the resulting spot-kick was dispatched with aplomb.

Things quickly went from bad to worse on 10 minutes when a bif hole suddenly opened in the home backline, with West Kent adding the third of what looked like becoming double figures.

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Slowly though, Barking & Dagenham regrouped and a trio of half-chances were forged in the 10 minutes leading up to the interval as Jones and Lily-Mae Elsey had provisional sighters on goal.

The second half began with neither defence yielding and vice-captain Ruby Abela was in defiant form, rallying the backline into life after its sluggish start.

With Elsey and Dowuona-Hammond in the engine room, the momentum began to turn, resulting in Barking & Dagenham pegging one back.

The goal was crafted by the persistence of Alissa Dhillon whose dangerous corner was cleared straight back to her on the left touchline.

The Valence winger showed great awareness to cross for Dowuona-Hammond, whose deft lay-off to Rihanna Zaman was slammed in at close range.

Connie McChrystal showed her class in goal with nine minutes left, diving to parry a certain goal before Dhillon’s vital clearance, and an even better tip onto the bar from point-blank range two minutes later brought gasps of disbelief and a well-deserved ovation from the crowd.

Barking & Dagenham: C McChrystal (Grafton); A Santo (Henry Green); R Abela (Dorothy Barley); A Dhillon (Valence); L Elsey (Northbury); Y Moore (Henry Green); T Duouwana-Hammond (George Carey); V Sharpe (Gascoigne); G Jones (Grafton); R Zaman (Hunters Hall); E Young (Hunters Hall).

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