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Chatham Town Women 5-4 AFC Wimbledon Women
Chatham Town Women 5-4 AFC Wimbledon Women

The ice cool nerves of Ellie Jeffkins sent Chatham Town Women’s side into the Third Round of the Women’s FA Cup after what was a titanic battle with AFC Wimbledon which had literally everything including an “inconvenienced” official which forced the kick-off to be delayed… 

Even for new Chats boss Keith Boanas, this game left him bewildered as even in all his years of coaching and watching the game – he led Charlton Athletic to Finals in the competition and has coached as well in the international arena and thought he’d seen everything – until that is this November Sunday in Chatham in 2023.  

After seeing his side go behind early on, goals from Breon Grant, Tish Nicholls and Jas Auguste put the home side 3-1 ahead at the break and when skipper Lenny Priest superbly glanced home the fourth from a deep free kick, the home side looked set to progress.

But the visitors found the net three times in the last fifteen minutes, with the equaliser in the first minute of stoppage time sparking wild scenes of celebration on and off the AFC bench.

With extra time looming, a brilliant driving run into the box in minute ninety-four by Nat Taylor was unceremoniously ended and the spotlight fell on “Ell” who despite numerous attempts at games-person-ship by the opposition, hammered the penalty beyond the diving keeper to send the Chats through at the end of a truly remarkable afternoon. 

It was an afternoon that began in bizarre and extremely embarrassing fashion for referee Bancur as she found herself locked in the toilet which resulted in a delay of thirty minutes to the kick-off and a trip to the official’s room of three locksmiths to rescue the referee. 

When the game eventually started, it was as though the home team had stayed in their dressing room as the visitors scored with the first attack of the game when Goddard swept home after a good ball in from the right. 

When Porter somehow hooked a corner off the Chats bar from a corner shortly after you feared that the writing was on the wall for the home side who have struggled for goals this season.

But in true FA Cup fashion, they rallied brilliantly – somehow the Wimbledon defence denied Nicholls levelling with a clever chip shot from a corner, Nicole Perkins could get her foot round the rebound and Jeffkins’ follow-up was blocked before Grant levelled the scores brilliantly. 

The Chats striker outpaced her marker and as the keeper came out, she kept her nerve before sliding the ball into the bottom corner.

Nicholls then put the home side ahead with a fine finish after an amazing charging run from Amy Haynes before just ahead of the half time break, keeper Allen was distracted by players around her and allowed Auguste’s corner to go straight in. 

Not that it was all one-way traffic as Cara Davies pulled off a couple of fine stops at the other end as the Chats keeper first got a big hand from an effort from Porter to snub out danger before producing an incredible save to deny former Gillingham Ladies striker Hincks and needed a brilliant goal-line clearance from Priest to back up the keeper’s fine work. 

Hincks will have been disappointed not to have done better with two goes from a free kick at the start of the second half as the initial shot went straight into the wall and the follow-up blocked by a defender. 

The home side made the visitors pay when Priest rose brilliantly to flick a free kick into the box wide of the despairing keeper and with a three-goal lead, the home side looked through, although red flags were raised when Billingham headed the visitors’ second. 

Suddenly though we saw the pre Boanas Chats as they backed off and the visitors saw their chance as Hincks got on the end of a swift move down the right to prod past the advancing Davies. 

The visitors were now on top, and it became a question of if the Chats could hold on. They did until the first minute of stoppage time as sub-McLachlan got on the end of a hopeful centre to head beyond Davies to spark scenes that the description “bench clearance” was made for. 

However, this remarkable afternoon had one further twist as on ninety-four minutes, Taylor’s lung bursting charge into the box was unfairly halted and referee Bancur who had been the centre of attention before the game again came to the fore at its finale.  

After an inconsistent afternoon at best, the official blew her whistle before after what seemed an age, pointed to the spot, and despite a long delay, Jeffkins held her nerve magnificently, drilling the ball beyond Allen despairing dive into the bottom corner to send the Chats into Monday’s Third Round draw and keeps the dream of possibly facing a WASL side in Round Four very much alive.  

An utterly amazing afternoon at the Bauvill… 

CHATHAM TOWN WOMEN – Davies, Auguste, Coombs, Priest, Haynes, Jeffkins, Taylor, Grant (Jackson), Perkins, Nicholls (Madamombe), Sharp 

Subs – Leitch, Hynes, Pearch, Poole, Harney 

AFC WIMBLEDON WOMEN – Allen, Brooks, Mann (Soares), Highman, Hincks, Childerhouse (McLachlan), Gibson, Billingham, Dorey, Goddard, Porter (Donovan) 

Subs – Baker, Russell, McKenzie, Whelan 

REFEREE – Ms Bancur 

Pictures supplied by Allen Hollands.