Harlow Town progressed to the next round of the FA Women’s Cup after they beat Essex County League side Runwell Sports by 6-goals to nil. A brace each for Olivia Steele and Georgia Box and goals for Chloe Bassett and Daisy Jenkins gave Town a comfortable win in what was a tough game.
Right from the off, both sides battled well, trying to get off to the best possible start. Georgia Box was almost played through in the opening minute but a bobble on the pitch took it away from the forward before the hosts tried to break a couple of minutes later but Harlow’s keeper Lauren did well to collect the ball. Harlow began to try and get a foothold in the game. They tried to build up pressure, looking for an opening. Nicole Farmer had a shot from distance but he shot was fired over.
The deadlock was broken in the 10th-minute when Olivia Steele scored her first of the afternoon. She was played through and slotted the ball past the keeper into the bottom corner. The opening goal had given Harlow confidence as they continued to come forward. There was a penalty shout as Chloe Bassett was brought down but the referee was quick to wave away any shouts before Steele came close to scoring her second. She found herself in a similar position to her opening goal but this time, she dragged the shot inches wide of the post. Runwell tried to counter through Megan Marney and Amy Yelden but a combination of Lauren and Danni Jennings prevented the Hawks from conceding. Chloe Bassett came close after she took a touch and shot but her shot was dragged just wide.
Harlow were awarded a corner in the 25th-minute when a miskick from a Runwell defender sent the ball over her own goal. The resulting corner was whipped in to a dangerous area and Olivia Steele got onto the end of it, scoring her second of the afternoon. The hosts got into a good position and were almost played through but once again, Danni Jennings provided good cover, preventing a shooting opportunity before Daisy Jenkins added a third. Chloe Bassett had done well to give herself a chance but the ball was cleared as far as Jenkins on the edge of the box who finished well. Right on the verge of half-time, Jennings tried to direct a ball towards goal but it was well dealt with by the keeper.
Runwell made a better start to the second half but it was Harlow who had the better chances. Chloe Bassett had done well to get away from the defence and fed the ball to Georgia Box but her shot was well saved before a good break from Box saw her cross to Bassett who fired the ball over the bar after a first-time effort. Minutes later, Harlow increased their lead. Georgia Box did well to break before she slotted the bar into the far corner.
The hosts tried to come forward but they couldn’t find the space in behind. Olivia Steele had a chance for her hattrick but her shot was well blocked from the keeper. Amy Nash tried to get in on the scoring but sent a long-range effort just wide before the hosts had their best chance of the game. Michelle Baily had a shot but it was saved well by Lauren, with the Runwell bench thinking it had gone in. As the game reached the final 20 minutes, Harlow continued to push. Gerogia Box fired an effort across goal from an angle before Chloe Bassett scored. She finished well from distance to get Harlow’s fifth of the afternoon.
There was no let-off though and Harlow continued to push into the final 10-minutes. Runwell had made some defensive changes, hoping not to concede further. Georgia Raby cut inside but her shot was tipped onto the post by Runwell’s keeper before a shot from Box ran through to the keeper. There was a double-chance for Harlow with 5 minutes to play. Vicky Wotton fired a free-kick into the box but Olivia Steele could only direct a header straight at the keeper before Georgia Box had another shot saved comfortably by the keeper. The last goal saw Box get a brace after she was played through and lifted the ball over the keeper.
After her outstanding defensive performance, Danni Jennings was voted ‘player of the match’ by manager Dean Perrett.
Speaking after the game, Olivia Steele said “I think we played really well today, however, the grass was a bit bobbly and we’re not used to that. Considering the conditions, I felt we did well.”
“It was a tough game. Credit to Runwell who put a proper shift in. They battled to the end but we played well,” added Chloe Bassett.
[Did you expect it to be as tough as it was?] “I think it was a lot tougher than I had expected,” said Bassett, “We had heard that a few of their first team players were away so the girls they brought in, played very well. For us it was about getting the win.”
[How does it feel to have scored in the FA Cup?] ” I was buzzing to have scored but I had a fair few chances to score earlier in the match. There is a changing-room joke that I can only score from outside the box, so hopefully that isn’t a trend this season.”
“I’m buzzing to have scored in the first game of the season and the FA Cup, so hopefully we can carry on our winning ways,” added Steele.