Argyle women pre crawley

Report | Argyle Women 3 Crawley Wasps 4

Plymouth Argyle Women 3

Knapman 3’, Cunningham 49’, 71’

Crawley Wasps 4

Cole 12’, Swaby 31’, Stephens 58’, Palmer 74’

Argyle Women came out on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller in their home defeat against Crawley this weekend.

It was a lighting start from The Pilgrims, who took the lead after just three minutes. England U16 international Mari Ward found space on the right-hand side and slotted top goal scorer Natasha Knapman in one on one against Goldsmid in the Crawley goal. Knapman took a touch before coolly slotting the ball into the bottom corner to give Argyle the lead.

Despite the opening goal, it was an even start to the match, with neither side managing to take complete control of the game. In the 12th minute, Swaby burst in behind the Argyle defence and towards goal, where Panagiota Papaioannou was adjudged to have fouled her as she attempted to win the ball with a sliding tackle. Up stepped Naomi Cole who confidently fired the ball into the bottom corner to restore parity between the two sides.

Argyle looked to respond, and Ward did well again to beat a few Crawley players and find Cunningham on the edge of the box, but her effort went narrowly wide of Goldsmid's far post.

Ward was then involved again down the right-hand side and whipped a cross in towards Knapman, who at full stretch couldn't make a strong enough contact and saw her header drift wide of the post.

In the 20th minute, Argyle nearly took a fortuitous lead when Lucy Hack's cross was slightly overhit and flew only inches over the bar, much to the relief of the Wasps' defence.

Argyle had grown into the game and were seeing the majority of the ball, with Ward and Train operating well as wingbacks to find space out wide and craft chances for The Pilgrims' attackers.

It nearly worked perfectly in the 30th minute when Rosie Train found space in behind the Crawley left and whipped a cross into Knapman, whose clever flick clipped the Wasps' bar before going behind for a goal kick.

It felt like Argyle were getting closer to restoring their lead, but only a minute after hitting the bar, they found themselves behind for the first time in the game.

Swaby was played in behind the Argyle back three and placed her shot under goalkeeper Jasmine Read. The Greens' 'keeper did well to get a touch on the ball and to take much of the pace off the shot, but as covering defender, Panagiota Papaioannou, rushed back to try and clear the danger she couldn't quite reach it in time and only managed to clear the ball into her own goal.

Argyle offered an almost instant response through Knapman, who showed good feet to turn her marker at the edge of the box, but her snapshot went agonisingly wide of Goldsmid's far post.

The Greens continued to push for a first-half equaliser, but despite a succession of corners, they found themselves trailing 2-1 at half-time.

Argyle started the second half much like the first and crafted an excellent chance after just four minutes.

Rose played a superb pass into Knapman just inside the box, who then drew an excellent save from Goldsmid. Fortunately, the rebound fell to Cunningham at the edge of the box, but she uncharacteristically rushed her shot and fired over the Wasps' bar.

Cunningham would make amends only a minute later when she did pop up with the equaliser for Argyle.

It was almost Déjà vu as Knapman again found herself in space inside the Crawley box; this time, her shot struck the upright before falling to Cunningham, who headed the ball over Goldsmid and into the back of the net for the equaliser.

It was a deserved equaliser for Argyle, who continued in search of more goals. Four minutes later, Knapman drew another excellent save from Goldsmid, who did well to palm away Knapman's instinctive snapshot after Train's cross fell to her just inside the Wasps' box.

In the 57th minute, Lane did superbly to slip Knapman in behind again, and much like her opening goal, her shot beat Goldsmid, but this time it went agonisingly wide of the far post and behind for a goal kick.

Just a minute later, Crawley punished Argyle for their missed chances and again took the lead. Argyle were dispossessed at the back, and Stephens chipped the ball over Read for the Wasps' third goal.

Argyle responded with an attacking substitution with winger Amber Pollock replacing defensive midfielder Imy Crawford.

Pollock nearly had an immediate impact when she burst in behind the Wasps' defence and cut the ball back to Knapman, but Crawley got numbers around the ball, and Knapman's shot was deflected narrowly wide.

Crawley came into the game more following their third goal, but it was still The Pilgrims who were creating the best chances.

Pollock was again involved, this time getting free down the left, but her excellent cross into the six-yard box was narrowly out of reach of any Argyle player, and Crawley eventually cleared the loose ball.

In the 67th minute, Argyle had another chance to equalise. Cunningham's corner went beyond everyone and had to be cleared off the line by a Crawley defender, the loose ball fell to Ireland at the edge of the box, but she could only fire high over Goldsmid's bar.

Three minutes later, Argyle did finally equalise through a penalty of their own. Pollock was pushed down inside the box, and captain Zoe Cunningham stepped up and fired the ball into the bottom corner for her second goal of the afternoon.

With the chances they had already created, it looked like Argyle could take the momentum and go on to win the game, but it was Crawley who had the last laugh.

Argyle gave away a cheap freekick on their right-hand side, and Rachel Palmer fired the ball across to the far post and into the back of the net to restore Crawley's lead.

Argyle continued to push for another equaliser and did threaten through a series of corners and set pieces; but to their credit, Crawley managed the final few minutes well to see out their lead.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Argyle, who were undone by their more clinical opponents. The Pilgrims will have the perfect chance to respond next weekend when they travel away to Crawley to play the Wasps again.

Plymouth Argyle Women:

Read, Ward, Hack, Papaioannou, Rose, Train, Cunningham, Crawford, Lane, Ireland, Knapman

Subs: Murphy, Alphous, Pollock, Campbell, Thomas

Photo Credit: Dan Newton

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