Barking & Dagenham girls' progress in Southern Counties Cup
PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 November 2018
The heroics of Mei Wang in the Barking & Dagenham girls' district squad goal played a significant role in her team's progress to the next round of the Southern Counties Cup against Wokingham.
A sensational string of saves stretched across each half, extra-time and a decisive penalty shootout saw the Henry Green stopper steal the show in an end-to-end game.
The hosts signalled their intent from the opening whistle as Violette Sharpe twice fired wide, before Kaltrina Ibrahimi found the side netting with barely a minute on the clock.
Unity Clark and Frida Ferrer threatened for the visitors, but it was the arrival of Ruby Abela eight minutes before half-time that prompted a period of prolonged pressure from Barking & Dagenham.
Abela’s instant impact fashioned a chance for skipper Ellie Mai Morgan, only for a last-ditch block to deny the captain at the crucial moment.
Then a succession of Ibrahimi corners only needed a touch from a teammate to convert – but none came.
Just before the interval, Wang pulled off the first of her heroic saves, diving bravely to deny the onrushing Ferrer at point-blank range before a stunning double save moments later.
As with the first half, Barking & Dagenham resumed on the front foot as Pearl Osei-Yeboah’s powerful burst led to Morgan’s effort being saved in fine style.
It was the Berkshire side who had the clearest opportunity as Ferrer was once more denied by Wang when clean through on goal.
Despite their best efforts, neither side was able to find a winner so extra-time arrived, passed and that meant a penalty shoot-out.
McNaughton fired home before Grange slotted into the bottom corner and Ibrahimi thundered an unstoppable rocket past Hester.
Wokingham converted all three of their attempts, but Hester saved a kick from Abela, before the visitors fired wide to keep it level.
Morgan found the top corner to put her side one ahead again, but Wokingham pulled one back.
Lily-Mae Elsey showed nerves of steel to stride up and convert before Wang denied the next spot-kick.
Barking & Dagenham will now host Woking or Thurrock in the quarter-finals.