Saltdean United’s FA Cup run came to an abrupt end on Sunday, despite a heroic performance against a strong Actonians side at a sunny and windswept Hill Park.
A double from Rochelle Shakes and a clinical finish from Annemarie Pejcic cancelled out Georgia Bridges first half opener for the Tigers, who more than matched their opposition for large periods of the contest.
The home side came out all guns blazing in the opening exchanges, Paige Walder firing a speculative effort wide on nine minutes! Chloe Evans also went close for the hosts in the opening stages, as she just failed to connect with a precise pass from Kellie Larkin!
Joe Mctiffen’s side continue to press and give their visitors little time on the ball as the half progressed, and they were rewarded for their efforts on 25 minutes. After winning possession just inside her own half, Yasmin Poole played an excellent pass into Bridges, who burst clear on goal and curled a sumptuous effort into the far corner to give her side a deserved lead!
Fresh from opening the scoring, Bridges had a golden chance to make it 2-0 just moments later, however her snapshot from inside the penalty area flew narrowly wide, a big let off for the visitors who would capitalise on Saltdean’s narrow lead.
Having been under pressure for the first half hour,, the away side began to find their rhythm as half time approached, and they found an equaliser 10 minutes before the break! After winning a free kick in the Saltdean half, Maria Ledezma-Viso floated in a perfect delivery for Shakes, who beat her marker to head past Lauren Graves in the Saltdean goal to restore parity for the visitors!
With the score now level, the tempo of the contest became frantic as both sides looked to gain the upper hand going into the break, however it remained all square as the half time whistle sounded.
With time to regroup at the break, Saltdean once again came out invigorated for the second half and went close through Larkin, who flashed an effort wide of the upright on 47 minutes!
Having began positively after the restart, the home side were hit with a sucker punch on 50 minutes. After losing possession, the hosts failed to clear a low delivery into the box which fell perfectly for Shakes, who dispatched a precise first time effort into the bottom corner to give her side a somewhat fortunate lead.
To their credit, Saltdean continued to create chances as they now looked to level matters. Abbie Measures teasing ball into the box was somehow missed by everyone on 60 minutes, with no one able to provide a killer touch for a certain goal.
Despite fortunately taking the lead, Actonians were desperately unlucky not to extend their lead on 65 minutes. Ashleigh Ward was the first to go close when her attempted clearance looped up and smashed against the Saltdean crossbar, with Shakes’ follow up also clipping the outside of the post when it seemed easier to score.
Saltdean immediately created another chance after that double near miss for the visitors, this time it was Millie Carter who saw her effort cleared to safety on 70 minutes.
The away side were now beginning to exploit the growing number of gaps in the home sides defence as they looked for a crucial third goal, and they found it with 10 minutes remaining.
This time it was Pejcic’s turn to add her name to the scoresheet, her clinical run and slotted finish just had enough pace to beat the recovering Jess Mead, who was unable to prevent the ball from crossing the line!
Ultimately, Saltdean’s endeavour was matched by their opponents for the remainder of proceedings, and they were unable to build on a positive first half as Actonians progressed to the First Round of the FA Cup!
Joe Mctiffens side will take many positives away from this contest, having matched high quality opposition for the large spells of the game whilst playing some fluent attacking football! For Actonians, a trip to Herne Bay is their reward for progression as their cup journey continues!